Garden Show – Guidance

Thanks for your interest in exhibiting at our next Garden Show Our next show will be held August 10-11, 2019. Here is some guidance to help you get started.  For a complete show schedule, click here: Show schedule 2018

If you know of any children who would like to enter, here is an easier schedule written just for them: Children’s show schedule


1.  Any amateur gardener is eligible to exhibit. An amateur is a person who grows for pleasure and not for profit. There are no other qualifications, such as age, sex, place of residence, or membership (except as noted in this schedule).

2.  All entries in the Specimen Classes (flowers, plants, vegetables and fruits) must have been grown by the Exhibitor. House plants must have been in the Exhibitor’s possession for at least three months.

3. Vegetables, fruits, potted plants and arrangements may be entered on Friday evening between 3:00 and 7:00 PM. In addition, any exhibits may be entered between 7:00 and 10:00 AM on Saturday. Those who come earlier will, of course, have more time to prepare their exhibits, and to get help from the Advisers.

4.  To obtain a valid entry tag, each Exhibitor must register with the Entry Clerk and obtain a registration number which must be written on the tag for each exhibit. Entry tags must be filled out completely, top and bottom. See page 5 for more complete instructions regarding tags.

5.  Junior Exhibitors: In order to encourage participation by youngsters, there will be a separate competition available for Junior Exhibitors  under the age of 18. They should mark entry tags “Junior Exhibitor”. The Exhibitor’s age should be written on the upper right hand corner of the tag, and again on the bottom half so that it will show when the tag is folded for judging. (See the example on page 5.) Exhibits so marked will be shown separately and judged separately.

Juniors may, if they choose, enter the adult competition on the same basis as other Exhibitors, but the exhibit cannot be entered in both competitions.

6.  Containers for specimen flowers and plates for vegetables and fruits will be provided by the Club. Containers for arrangements must be supplied by the Exhibitor.

7.  The Placement Committee will make the final placement of all exhibits except for arrangements, which should be placed by the Exhibitor in the designated area.

8.  Exhibitors are requested to label all entries with correct type and variety, if known. Mislabeled entries or entries with the wrong class will be disqualified. If the Exhibitor is in doubt about the proper name or class of an entry, or about anything else connected with the show, advisors are readily available for help. Please ask. That is why they are there.

9.  The Placement Committee may subdivide a section when, in their opinion, the entries in that section are sufficiently numerous or varied in character. The Judges will then make separate awards if the entries merit them. A distinct color, form, size or variety may constitute a sub-section.

10. During the judging, only the Judges, Clerks and Show Committee personnel will be permitted in the area.

11. First, second and third place ribbons will be awarded in each section where the quality of exhibits warrants them. The decision of the Judges is final. Trophies to be awarded for outstanding exhibits are described on pages 21-22.

12. Exhibitors of arrangements should replace all wilted flowers before 10:00 AM on Sunday, if possible.

13. No exhibits may be removed, nor may any part of them be given away by an Exhibitor prior to the end of the Awards Ceremony late Sunday afternoon.

14. The Awards Ceremony will be held at 4:30 PM Sunday. Please attend and bring your friends.

15. Immediately after the awards are made on Sunday, we will begin to dismantle the show, and only the Exhibitors and Show Committee personnel will be permitted to remain in the hall. Disposition of any exhibits not claimed by that time will be at the discretion of the Show Committee.

16. While due care will be taken on the personal property of all Exhibitor, no responsibility will be assumed by the Show Committee, the Club, or the Chicago Botanic Garden for any loss or damage.



Do not insist on perfection.  Bring as many good specimens as you have, otherwise you may find that the Blue Ribbon is awarded to a specimen less perfect than the one you left at home.

Everyone, including the Judges, likes the “good lookers”.  Nice upstanding specimens with good balance among the size of the bloom, length of the stem, and amount of foliage have more appeal than short, droopy ones.

Don’t bring any specimens past their prime.  On the other hand, flowers that are not quite mature when cut may be at their best at judging time.  To be at their best, flowers should be cut the afternoon or evening before the show.

Avoid wetting the blooms.  For most flowers “hardening” overnight in a cool, dark, draft-free room with their stems deeply immersed in cold water will enable them to remain in good condition.

Groom your entries carefully for the show.  Clean the blooms as well as the foliage.  Remove any blemished petals, but don’t leave a trace of tissue at the flower base.  Remove all insects and residue of spray or dust.  Don’t oil or wax the leaves.  Clean them with a damp cloth, then rub them gently with your fingers to bring out the natural gloss of the leaves.

All entries must be carefully handled and transported.  Keep the flowers separated to avoid breaking, tearing and bruising the blooms or the foliage.  This takes a little effort, but it makes the difference between the winners and the “also-rans”.


All vegetables for exhibition must be mature and edible!  Choose specimens that are pleasing to you.  If they are not, you should probably skip entering them.

By all means clean, trim, prune and otherwise improve appearance and symmetry by natural means.  Wash, but don’t scrub.  Remove torn, loose, brown, spotted or otherwise unpleasant material.  Be sure to remove any insects or traces of insects.

Read and follow the rules for your class of exhibit.  If they specify three tomatoes, don’t exhibit two.  If onion tops are to be trimmed, don’t leave them on.  Rules vary from one type of plant to another, so be sure to check the Show Schedule carefully.

Uniformity is important.  If twelve string beans are to be exhibited, try to have twelve pods which are similar in size, color and shape.

As in exhibits of flowers, the largest vegetable specimens seldom are prize winners solely because of their size.  Moderate to good size is your best bet and will rate highest with Gardeners of America Accredited Judges.

Even the finest specimens may be damaged in harvesting, storing and transporting.  Great care should be taken.

One thought on “Garden Show – Guidance

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