Horticulture judges explain what to look for during fair days
MUNCY – When it comes to gardening, a good community resource is the Muncy Garden Club. On Thursday April 16, Dave Damaska and Marcia Campbell from the Lycoming County Master Gardeners came to discuss what they look for when judging display entries of plants and flowers at the Lycoming County Fair. For the past 7 years the duo have beed judges for hundreds of classes, categories and species. There are perennials and annuals, vegetables and herbs, ornamental plants and flowers. There are houseplants and hanging baskets, flowering and non-flowering. And then there are the different colors, with some variegated as well. There are also floor exhibits, arrangements, mantel tops and shadow boxes to be judged.
One of the first things they look for is to make sure each item matches the correct category or class. Plants and cut flowers each have separate titles and significant guidelines. Campbell said she often has to check the booklet because there are so many different types. “There are 214 plant categories that can be placed.”
“No dust, dirt, cobwebs, cracked pots, earwigs (small insects). These primarily catch our attention the most,” said Damaska. “Dirty potted containers will keep from winning. Foliage also plays an important role.”
Both agreed that they would like to see more entries this year into the Horticulture building. The Muncy Garden Club will be taking on the task of setting up the displays, accepting the entries for 2015 and will also be responsible for placing them with the marked category. “We really would like to see more entries in the cut flowers and potted plants division,” said Campbell. “Houseplants are good to enter too.” They said odds are good to win because there are so many classes to enter.
“There is a lot of leeway for particular plants like mums and violets,” she added. Nice potted houseplants that have been in the exhibitor’s possession for awhile have a fair chance of winning according to the Master Gardeners.
The judges also related that sometimes they have to use their smart phones to cross check the plants. “For example it might be an Easter cactus and not really a Christmas cactus,” Damaska said.
Now is a good time to start planning your fair entries and displays they said. The Muncy Garden Club will start accepting the entries around July 15 this year. They suggest using strong plants and cut flowers that can survive the heat. Place them in a clear container that is not dirty or cracked. Make sure it has a flower! Follow the rules. The fair booklet really helps. “If it lists 3 or 5 stems for a hydrangea and you have a different number, then it will be disqualified,” they said. Quality and quantity are very important.
“We really do need entries,” emphasized Campbell. “For just $2 you can enter up to 24 entries,” she added. Perhaps the numbers are low because people think they won’t get their plants back or they will perish. However, Damaska assured that good potted plants seldom die. When judging the table and mantle exhibits, they look for creativity and uniformity with complementary pieces. The Fair will open July 16 and will run until July 25.
The Muncy Garden Club will have their next meeting on May 21 with a program on rain gardens. Clean up day will be May 13 with a rain date on May 14. On May 16 members will be planting flowers throughout the Muncy community, and on May 22 they will be making flower arrangements for the Muncy Alumni Association banquet held on May 23. New members are always welcome. For more information call 570-971-5387. The club meets the third Thursday of every month at the St. James Episcopal Church parish hall in Muncy.