Saturday’s Newbie Run for the Roses

I enjoyed a run for the roses on Saturday. I know, the Kentucky Derby was earlier in the month. I ran up to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and entered my first rose show.

Entering a rose show was way out of my comfort zone. A month ago I could barely read the show schedule (list of entry categories, rules and regulations). But I was assured this show would be small and beginner-friendly and the folks in charge really wanted a lot of entries.

For two weeks I read and reread the show schedule, over-thought, and asked my consulting rosarian friends a million questions. A few days prior to the show, I began cutting roses and storing them in the fridge. People who exhibit roses regularly have refrigerators specifically for roses, often kept in the garage. I have no such dedicated appliance. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, my storage method.

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Hubs didn’t respond favorably when I told him I needed to remove shelves and most of our food to accommodate my blooms. So I improvised.

I arrived in Bowling Green with a bucket containing a few possibilities. I wanted to enter the “artist’s palette” category. That meant having five floribunda blooms displayed on a palette, provided by the show, to look like paint. Thankfully, I grow quite a few floribundas so I was able to participate. I also wanted to enter the Rose in a Bowl (exhibition stage). I brought a Chrysler Imperial and a Mother of Pearl for this.

When I got to the show, people were already there prepping their entries. There were friends I knew from Nashville and they couldn’t have been more helpful. They encouraged me to enter some of my leftover blooms in the Novice category.

When all was said and done, I had five entries. Here they are, still in the prep area.


Notice the three Q-tips in the red rose. I was trying to open the bloom a bit, and didn’t really know what I was doing. Here’s how experienced exhibitors use Q-tips to open a rose.

Big difference. I was really clueless. There were people in the prep area with boxes full of grooming tools. I brought four Q-tips, cotton balls, and hub’s beard scissors in a zip lock bag. My fellow competitors kindly loaned me tweezers and anything else I needed as I fumbled through grooming.

After placing my entries in the appropriate sections, I hung around to clerk for the judges. Clerking is a great way to pick up information, particularly if the clerk is paired with kind and chatty judges. I hit the motherlode. My judges were happy to explain the reasoning behind their decisions. They even quizzed me to see if I was learning.

I received one red ribbon (Mother of Pearl in a bowl, which had gotten smushed in the fridge) and four blue ribbons. Two of my blue ribbon entries were declared “best” in category and were placed on the awards table: Best Novice and Best Artist’s Palette. I was thrilled!


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The Novice category is for rosarians who’ve never won a blue ribbon in a show. Since I won a few blues at this show, I’ll never again be able to enter this category, so I’m glad I did it.

When I joined the Nashville Rose Society, I was intimidated at the thought of entering a rose show. I had so much to learn about growing roses, much less how to grow show-quality blooms. If I had stayed in my comfort zone, I would not have learned how approachable rose shows can be.

I’m glad I allowed myself to be uncomfortable. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to shop for a refrigerator.



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1 Response to Saturday’s Newbie Run for the Roses

  1. Denise Owens says:


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