Look the Judge in the Eye
A simple guide to growing and showing for beginners by Ian Penney

The Next Steps - Making a Choice

To prepare for the next show, which I am sure you will be very keen to do, go back to the schedule. Look at all the classes that are available and decide what you want to grow. I would advise you, initially, to specialise. Because if you learn to grow and exhibit one thing well the expertise that you gain will help you in growing and showing many other things. In my experience this approach is more likely to achieve consistent results than the ad hoc method of picking whatever is blooming in your garden. However whatever you choose be sure that it is something you enjoy growing. I have never grown chrysanthemums because, basically, I don't like those huge blooms, but I admire the skill and patience that goes into producing them.


All things are not equal in the garden and it is a fact that some varieties make better exhibits than others. It would be a waste if you lavished time and effort on a variety that would never produce a worthwhile specimen. There are several ways of finding out the good varieties. The easiest is to ask successful exhibitors. If you show interest they are usually very willing to help. The names of varieties often help, a pea called 'Show Perfection' is still a winner and a runner bean 'Enorma' wins regular prizes. Flowers are not so easy though there is a Pelargonium called ‘Something Special’ that has all the qualities of a good plant. The most reliable method is to join a specialist society or obtain the year book from a member. These will usually present a list of the winning varieties at their shows.

If you see a pot plant for sale that looks different and attractive, buy it if you want to because the chances are that a judge may also find it attractive; but remember it must have been in your possession for 2 months before the show.