Ten Steps to Benching a Champion Bloom

  1. Protect remaining developing buds after the debudding process has taken place. As the bud develops, protect it from damage by pegging back nearby leaves which could mark petals as they open, and from adverse weather if possible.
  2. Selection of blooms:
    In the days preceding the Show, select blooms that demonstrate:

    1. Good condition—which is indicated by the turgidity of the petals; firmness of stamens and anthers; freedom from markings by insects and weather damage.
    2. Distinctiveness—which causes the bloom/s to stand out from the rest.
    3. Texture—which is smooth or crepey and characteristic of the variety.
    4. Substance of petal (thickness or thinness as well as firmness and crispness)—again characteristics of the variety.
    5. Form—true for the variety. It may or may not be symmetrical.
    6. Colour of bloom which should be as required or better, for the variety. Climatic or soil conditions can cause variation
    7. Size—which should be the best that can be expected of the variety.
    8. Foliage—without evidence of disease and disfigurement, if possible.
  3. Cut the blooms—preferably with two leaves—taking care not to brush against foliage as the blooms are removed from the bush.
  4. Place each bloom in a padded (dampened shredded newspaper, sphagnum moss, etc.) container.  Foam boxes from the supermarket are ideal.
  5. From the blooms picked, select those to be exhibited. Have a few spares.
  6. Make any improvements to blooms, for example:
    1. Replace disfigured leaves with others from the same bush; Blooms should generally have no more than two leaves.
    2. Remove all other flower buds, and any foreign bodies on or with the blooms with a fine brush.
  7. Place blooms in either:
    1. Jars containing water to give blooms a drink prior to packing or
    2. Foam boxes ready to transport to the Show. Blooms should be supported and not touching. (Note: It is much easier at the show if you pack the blooms in Show Schedule order. The blooms packed in sealed boxes can last for a couple of days. Of course this will depend upon the state of the blooms at time of picking.
  8. Great care should be taken with the packing of the boxes into your car and in travelling to the Show venue. Sudden stops or hard cornering and/or speed humps can cause even the best of packed blooms to shift and mark.
  9. In placing blooms on the Show bench, great care should be taken in:
    1. Removing blooms from box—lift from underneath.
    2. Arranging a bloom so that it:
      1. looks directly at the judge and says, “PICK ME!”
      2. has its leaves arranged correctly—both with the correct side uppermost;
      3. is in the correct class as per the Show Schedule.
    3. Seeing that you do not disturb other exhibitors’ blooms. If more space is required, call for the assistance of a Show Steward.
      (Note: it is a good idea to get to the show early so that you can have plenty of time to display your blooms to their best advantage.  Allow 15 minutes per box.)10)    When your benching is completed, remove your boxes and yourself from the area.  Now that you have done all you can, you must await the judge’s verdict. We hope you are successful.
  10. Don’t forget to be gracious in both victory and defeat. You may have, in your opinion, a very good bloom, but someone else may have one that is just a little better—in the Judge’s opinion, of course.
    The Judge’s decision is final, but don’t worry, there’s always the next Show. Of course if your bloom is judged the best, then stick your chest out, but don’t rest on your laurels.It is realised that all of the above has been the subject of many discussions and papers. Some of the suggestions may be of help to new exhibitors and perhaps even some older members.By Kim & Pat Bowyer, Camellias Illawarra – printed in Camellia News No. 145 June 1998 p 13.