The main event of the day was an interesting look at judging for members. It is true that not all members wish to progress towards judging, however an understanding of how the system works is of benefit. It should be noted however that thinking in advance that your own plant may not be a class winner shouldn’t prevent members from taking plants to shows etc. Judging isn’t rocket science, but there are a few different methods of undertaking it. Different Societies use various methods such as points, or appreciation (e.g. which one you would like to take home etc.). The BOC judging scheme is a standard method (covered in last month’s newsletter), and would be used today. The theme for today’s session was Paphiopedilum, and 8 plants were numbered ready for evaluation. These were a mixture of species, primary hybrids, multiflorals and complex types of different colours etc.Ted and Silvia gave guidelines on how to tackle the group. First up would be a process of elimination to try and get a shortlist of 4 plants to then try and get the top 3. This would involve consideration of poor plant growth, poor flower size, shape and colour (breaks). An unusually short spike would also count against it. Removal of old foliage that is dying back is a moot point with judges – generally to be removed. Evidence of bugs would be an automatic exclusion, and poor presentation (sloppy tying, canes too long etc.) is also a negative. Once down to 4 plants, look at the growth for health – old growths as well as new starts is positive. Is the flower shape good, is the colour strong (texture). How floriferous is the plant? Generally the points should be split 50/50 between the flower and the growth. After everyone had a good look at the plants and scored their own top 3 the officials (Ted, Silvia & Brian) gave their verdicts. 3 plants had evidence of bugs, so were immediately discarded (this was known by the owner). The final shortlist was a species, a primary, and 2 complex plants, with the eventual winner being Paph. Skip the Buss ‘Almond’ as it had very good foliage with an old growth as well as a new start. The flower was a decent size and of an open shape with strong colouration – of mainly white with a pink pouch and pink speckles elsewhere. This is shown on the back cover. Many present got 3 or 4 and/or picked the winner. Well done everyone.


In the hope of encouraging more members to enter their plants for judging at our regular meetings, here is a re-print of the article from the Newsletter of October 2006 about the scheme for the benefit of those members who didn’t have the thrill of reading it then.

We currently have 21 classes available, including one class specifically for novices (i.e. anyone who has not won one of our classes before). The points in these classes are cumulative but there is also a 22nd ‘class’ for the single best plant shown in the course of the whole year’s judging.

To be eligible for judging, a novice must have grown the plant for at least 6 months prior to entry and anyone else must have grown theirs for at least a year. A novice has the privilege of deciding whether to enter a plant in the novices’ class or in the appropriate class for that plant.

Each plant entered gets one point for being entered. If it is judged to be the best in its class that day, it then receives up to 15 more points for the flower quality plus up to 15 more points for the quality of its culture, giving a maximum of 31 points. The second in that class can get up to 10 + 10 points and the third up to 6 + 6 points.

At the end of the year (after the September meeting) all the points for individual owners in each class are totalled and the trophies awarded to the owners with the most points. Only in the 22nd class is the trophy deliberately awarded for one individual plant.

It’s quite painless really (except for filling in the cards – and for the judges who award the points during their coffee break). The judges incidentally, are all qualified judges under the British Orchid Council’s internationally recognised scheme.

Have a go if you haven’t entered anything before but even if you’re not interested in the competitive side of orchid growing, please bring your plants to the table show for others to enjoy. You don’t necessarily have to enter them for judging and we would all like to see them.

The complete list of classes is given in the December Newsletter when the results of that year’s judging and the awards of trophies at the AGM are printed in full.


Ted gave an overview on what to look for in the judging process. On BOC guidelines 50% is given to the growth and 50% to the flowers based on count, shape, colour and overall aesthetics.

Judging today isn’t a competition, and the preferred order will be based on the thoughts of Ted and Silvia who are both qualified BOC judges. Based on the plants on show 2 groups of plants were selected. The first was the Cattleyas, and the other was Phragmipediums. Both groups had 6 plants and members were invited to select the first 4 in order. Ted then gave his order and members were able to compare their choices against this. At the end of the process there were a number of happy members who had got the order correct for 1 or the other group and perhaps a couple the wrong way around in the other. Everyone seemed to enjoy the experience.

In BOC judging the plants are judged out of 100%. The 50% for cultivation is split down to the following areas-

Plant size & condition 25%

Floriferousness of the plant 20%

Presentation 5%

The 50% for Flower Quality is split down to the following areas –

Flower form 10%

Flower colour 10%

Flower size 10%

Substance & texture 5%

Spike habit 5%

Floriferousness of spike 10%

Notes on Cultivation

  • Size and quality of psuedobulbs and leaves if present, progressive improvement in size, overall number of growths, number of new leads etc.
  • Condition includes damage marks, substance of leaves or psuedobulbs, leaf or psuedobulb wrinkling, number and quality of aerial roots, conditions of leaf surface, trimming of leaf tips or growths etc.
  • Stability and anchorage of plant on mount or in container.
  • Floriferousness of plant relates to the flower spikes expected from the number of potential flower leads.
  • Presentation includes other items under the grower’s control such as staking, minor manipulation, labelling, removal of weeds, removal of fading flowers, tying and cleanliness.

Notes on Flower Quality

  • Form includes shape, balance, overlap of segments, edge shape, etc.
  • Colour includes clarity, contrast, harmony, markings, fading, etc.
  • Size includes overall and individual segments, reducing size along the spike etc.
  • Substance should be self-evident.
  • Texture applies to the surface and includes hairs, warts, gloss, sparkle, creases, etc.
  • Spike habit includes supporting ability, straightness (curving can be normal, but kinking is not), arrangements, separation, bracts, etc…
  • Floriferousness of spike includes branching, total number of flowers on spikes, buds, etc.
  • The use of products to enhance leaf shine is discouraged, excessive use will be considered as a negative point in judging.

Other Considerations

  • Judging is strictly on what is to be seen “on the day” i.e. unopened buds and dead or dying flowers may represent great past or future spectacle but make little contribution in their present state.
  • Linked to the last point is the percentage of flowers open. For most plants the optimum display is when all flowers are properly open, but some plants have a natural successional habit. In the latter case the plant should not be penalised if all flowers are not open.