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Re: Judges' training, competition, etc.

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Re: Judges' training, competition, etc.
  • From: Curt Marble <cmarble@tiac.net>
  • Date: Sat, 18 Oct 1997 08:58:00 -0600 (MDT)

Claire wrote:

>One of the reasons I do not belong to a general garden club is that most them
>were for years part of Federated Garden Clubs or something close to that.
> This judging thing fostered a depressing competition.  
>Their judging was mostly, I think, arrangements.  A judges handbook stunned
>me.  There are all sorts of points, take aways, put backs, etc. Like
>The system of training and approving judges was complicated and contained a
>status element. It seemed when you produced an entry and were subjected to
> this judging system you were as far from gardening as a gardener could get.
>They still have a "show" as part of the New England Flower Show in March each
>year.  I stroll through dragging the droll Ed who refers to it as the comedy
>section.  Other parts of this show are also judged, the professional
>displays, garden club efforts, etc.  Reading the commentary here finds me
>dissenting constantly, who is to judge, who is the absolutely fair arbiter?
>While everyone who loves a show can jump all over me now, I agree with Ian.
> Irises are a garden joy, gardening is my passion but shows and judging seem
>to detract from that pleasure.  I am ducking now!

Claire, don't duck...this is just an explanation of my experiences.

First of all, I am not a judge (not AIS, not Garden Club Federation), and I
have not yet entered an official Standard Flower Show (ie. run by
Federation).  However I am a member of a Federated Garden Club (Harvard, MA)
and attend many events and  classes sponsored by the Federation (in addition
to those run by my club).  I also have entered many Iris shows in the design
division and have chaired a number of these. I defend the Federation to you
as an organization which has helped me a lot.

I have learned so much about arranging from Federation sponsored lectures
and classes...I was a math major/science focus person who never took an
"art" course in college.  Some of the design types are not my favorite, and
I must admit to occasional chuckles when attending the Boston Flower Show,
however I still don't understand much of modern painting either.

I have found the rule book to be a helpful structure in thinking about
flower arrangements:  there are principles and elements of design that are
handy tools.  I have used the handbook when writing classes for our shows,
and have asked Federation judges to judge the design division.  They have
always been most helpful, and frequently willing to spend time afterward
with the exhibitors to teach them ways to improve their arrangements.  The
"system of points" that you object to is like a guiding structure to me.
Maybe it's my math background, but I find the show schedule (class name,
description, requirements) like a wonderful logic puzzle to be solved..."how
can I make an arrangement that interprets and fits the criteria?". 

As for your comment that judging "fosters a depressing competition"...I
guess it might in some people, but I find it fun, at least this is my
experience in the iris shows.  I am thinking of Andy and Debby Wheeler and
of Linda R? and Evelyn White in Maine.  We certainly all compete, but there
is an underlying affection:  Andy called me before the '97 Japanese Show to
make sure I still had irises in bloom, or "could he cut and bring me some";
Debby and I share ideas at the show; Evelyn loaned containers to Andy when
he forgot to pack his.  Maybe I'm just blessed in the people I've competed
with.  And Yes, showing is "far from gardening", but that's OK, even God
rested on the seventh day.

If you are interested in design, but hate the competition, you might explore
Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) which has no judging.

Time to get back to the gardening.  We still have not had a killing frost,
and the weeds are calling.

Kathy Marble <cmarble@tiac.net>
Harvard, MA
zone 5

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