Summer is for growing. It's for showing and judging. It's also for learning and enjoying.
Growing this summer has been challenging at best. Weeds have been growing at record speeds and heights. Plants grew early and rapidly during the spring. Then came the heat with little or no rain. Growth all but stopped with leaves scorched, insects and Japanese Beetles with voracious appetites reproducing at record rates. Many vegetables had an unusual early start then slumped into a holding pattern.
When some rain came, temperatures dropped a few degrees. Plants, yards and gardens began o revive just as we thought everything was dead. This happened more than once. Unfortunately in some areas this yo-yo of beating rain, heat, drought was too much for the vegetation to survive.
I'm a hopeful grower who enjoys showing my blossoms and produce. Showing the results of my labors means I enter local, state and national flower show competitions. This can be a particularly rewarding activity. It is a great learning experience for me, but also it provides an educational tool for others.
Have you been at HarMar Mall when the Minnesota Rose Society has their show? Did you stop in the Roseville Library to look at the Lake Owasso Garden Club's Flower Show? Did you look at an arrangement and say to yourself, "I could do that". Or, maybe you said, "Hey, Honey your herbs and tomatoes are better than those. Why don't you enter them in a show"? Yes, why don't you?
Have you been watching the Olympics and felt the rush of competition? Entering a flower show, putting your efforts up against a standard and the work of others is rather frightening, but very exhilarating. Getting a blue ribbon, a red or any ribbon is rewarding. It gives a warm tingling feeling of confidence and pride. For some of us the competition is all that's necessary.
There are small money rewards at the State Fair. Rose shows have trophies that may stay with the club but they are engraved with the winner's name. Some societies give winning entries a small gift, a certificate for a rose bush or a product. Plant societies', such as lily, dahlia or hosta shows, have differing ways of rewarding the top show winners. Regardless of the way, it isn't the money or the gift that keeps us continuing to exhibit - it is the education we have gained and the personal pride for a job well done.
Along with growing and showing, I decided I wanted to know about the criterion used in determining a blue ribbon specimen or a top winning arrangement. That took more classes, more study, more learning. After numerous years I became a National Garden Club, Inc. Master Judge. During that time I also became an American Rose Society Judge. I've judged many shows in the last ten years. Since mid June this year I've had the privilege of judging six shows, including the Miniature National Rose Show in Columbus, Ohio.
Judges seldom get paid. Some groups give their judges an honorarium, some provide a breakfast or a luncheon. Judges don't get travel epenses, registration fees or free hotel accommodations.
Why, oh why would a person do this? I guess we are just gluttons for knowledge about the subjects we enjoy. Yes, we are a bit goofy, but generally fairly normal people!