Taking the First Steps to Exhibiting Roses

by Dr. Tommy Cairns

To borrow a quote from both the musical and movie, ‘Auntie Mame’, …. “Open a new window, open a new door …”, our wonderful hobby constantly challenges us to explore every avenue of growing roses. There is no other hobby that presents so many different ways of reinventing our interest with the passage of time. Roses shows offer an exciting new way to showcase our skills in growing by sharing the blooms with the general public. Shows are the main avenue from which ARS gains new members.

Consider taking some blooms to the next show and beware the addictive nature of winning first prizes ribbons – the pride and exhilaration of victory! All too often, however, the fear of competing with seasoned exhibitors is a deterrent to taking the first steps. Perhaps best to start with a single Hybrid Tea bloom or a Floribunda spray or a Miniflora. But not knowing how to put that entry into a show can be an awkward moment.

Problem solved – this stem of ‘Moonstone’ clearly shows the dimensions of the challenge. Make sure you have a stem of proper portions, clean healthy foliage and a bloom with good form.

The bloom of ‘Marilyn Monroe’ amplifies what exactly is meant by form.

Sometimes the member wishing to take up the challenge to enter is confused by the advice of first consulting the “ARS Guidelines for Judging Roses”. While an encyclopedic work outlining many years of cautious development, it is a daunting task to consume the contents and their immediate relevance.

Thankfully, there is a new approach to help educate members on their way to success. Recently Luis Desamero, an ARS Gold Medallist now the current Chairman of the World Federation of Rose Societies (WFRS) International Judges Committee, has published an illustrated approach to both exhibiting and judging roses. With clear images of various entries the concepts of exhibiting roses are explained in simple detail. These concepts were derived in keeping with ARS principles. Copies are available in the USA from the Beverly Hills Rose Society via the website judgingroses.com. Crammed full of spectacular images of entries and how they are constructed, it is worthwhile to obtain a copy and be charmed with the beauty of rose exhibiting.

So consider taking the first step to a new adventure and expand your knowledge, pride, and circle of friends. And you too will someday be ready to enter a bowl of roses just like ‘Bonsoir’ … a beautiful Hybrid Tea!


About Dr. Tommy Cairns

Dr. Tommy Cairns is an internationally renowned rose expert and exhibitor. He has judged international rose shows in South America, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Europe. Tommy served as the 50th President of the American Rose Society in 2000-2003. He was editor of both Modern Roses 10 and Modern Roses XI  – The World Encyclopedia of Roses and was Editor of World Rose News for 12 years.

His literary efforts have been chronicled in Botanica’s Roses and the a series of popular books, namely All About Roses, All About The Easiest Roses to Grow, and The Complete Guide to Roses, published by Ortho/Meredith Books, and The Ultimate Rose Book, published by Abrams, New York. Tommy pioneered the publication of World Rose News as a full color hardcopy mailed to all Member countries. Dr. Cairns has been awarded five gold medals from four different countries for his volunteer efforts including the prestigious Dean Hole Medal from the Royal National Rose Society. At his home in Studio City, California Tommy enjoys almost 1,000 award-winning rose bushes, which he has competitively exhibited on an international level in several continents. Scottish born Tommy holds a PhD in Chemistry and Doctor of Science degree (DSc) in Toxicology, Art Conservation and Archaeology from the University of Glasgow, Scotland.