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Journal American Rhododendron Society

Current Editor:
Dr. Glen Jamieson ars.editor@gmail.com


Volume 21, Number 2
April 1967

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Cut Truss Show Considerations
A Talk Given to The Princeton Chapter of the A.R.S.
By G. A. Arrington

        Your president asked me to talk to you a little about your forthcoming cut truss show from the point of view of what new participants in the group might want to know in order to compete. I'm not an expert, although I might be thought of as an expert by one definition if I only lived further away from Princeton. You know the one, "An expert is an ordinary man, speaking on any subject, away from home."
        In order to spare most of you from feeling obligated to listen to all of this dissertation, I will start right off by describing how any one of you can be SURE of winning. It's really quite simple. Just make sure that at least 3 of the judges are doting uncles who think that the sun rises and sets in you and that you can do no wrong. Now, while your SURE WINNERS are taking a nap I'll try to explain, to those of you who do not have 3 uncles, how to go about this competition the hard way.
        MATERIAL SUITABLE FOR SHOWING - Perhaps the best way to approach this aspect of the subject would be to outline briefly what it is that the judges base their decisions upon. The main points are 5 - SIZE, COLOR, FORM, SUBSTANCE and FOLIAGE. This we see adds up to overall condition. When selecting material for a show ask yourselves the following questions in regard to these five points for each variety that you contemplate showing:

        The closer you come to an unqualified YES to these questions the nearer you are to 100% and the better both you and the judges will like your entry.
        GROOMING - How much can you groom a truss prior to entry? Not too much. However, with most of our eastern judges, where the Dexters are prevalent, you can, without jeopardy, remove the precocious new growth that is often just beginning to thrust up through the truss. You cannot polish the leaves with an artificial agent. If you feel it necessary to remove a defective leaf or two from the whorl, bear in mind that any degrading of an attractive distribution can lose points. Finally, you can wash extraneous matter from the foliage and it is highly important that you do so. There is nothing quite so unworthy looking as 'Starling Stucco'.
        HANDLING AND TRANSPORTATION - If at all possible, I believe in selecting material the day of the show and cutting it a little before take-off. After you collect your entries slit or crush the base of the stems. This helps them to take up water and, therefore, to stay fresh longer. It is also useful to know that trusses from young plants or on juvenile wood absorb water more readily and usually stay fresh-looking longer.
        As to transporting trusses safely from home to the exhibit, as the fellow that opens sardine cans on TV demonstrates - there are three methods, the straight, the fancy and the deluxe. The first is used by those folks who make out OK by cutting their materials early tough to stand them in water for a couple of hours before laying them carefully in a polyethylene lined box or other container, staggering them of course. They do this just before they are ready to cart them off to the show.
        Next there is the water filled coke or beer bottle group that I belong to. Using a little fancier method, this group puts the bottles holding the trusses into regular large coke or beer cases, staggering them in the compartments so that the trusses do not touch. The key is to he sure of staggering them enough so that they won't chafe during the drive. The coffee can, with the hole punched into the plastic top, method is, I think, a variation of this procedure.
        The third or deluxe way depends on whether or not you buy your whiskey by the case. If you do, and you make sure to obtain it in quarts or at least fifths, you can readily see that the compartments and the bottles, both being larger, allow for ample deluxe type spacing for transportation. It goes without saying, of course, that before you can fill the bottles with the necessary water, you must have emptied them. Therefore you should have no trouble doing a beautiful job of staggering.
        If upon arrival, in spite of all this care, some of your entries show signs of wilting a good trick is to put them into very warm, almost hot, water and they will quickly revive. In your case, however, in the event you had found it necessary, because of the imminence of the show, to empty your deluxe containers rather recently the prescription is - Very Cold Water.
        DO JUDGES EVER MAKE MISTAKES? ARE THEY EVER WRONG? DO THEY EVER DIFFER? - We must remember that judges, like you, are people with all the variations in tastes and emphasis that this implies. To illustrate, let's consider the most familiar, the largest and most earnest group of judges in the world, the judges who practice their judging from adolescence to the grave - The Girl Watchers. They don't all have the same tastes. They don't all place the emphasis on the same points of interest. But these discriminating experts do use essentially the same scoring criteria as do the A.R.S. judges; namely SIZE, COLOR, FORM, SUBSTANCE and FOLIAGE. So that we can understand this analogy better let's take these points in order. Size-Some like them small and dainty, some like them medium and some large. Color - Well...there are some strong preferences here too. Form - Most judges A.R.S. as well as Girl Watcher, place great store by this characteristic. But some place the emphasis upon a beautiful well modeled face, and some upon a weld modeled torso or trim legs. Substance-They like them to wear well, to weather all exigencies without faltering or fading, to still look beautiful even after a hot spell. Foliage - As you well know foliage is what dresses it all up often making it look better than it really is, girl or truss. Of course, there are those who even like 'em deciduous.
        Again - do judges ever make mistakes? Are they ever wrong? Well, the contestants, in turn invariably judge and rate the judges. To the winners of 'BEST IN SHOW' and the 'SWEEPSTAKE' awards they are pluperfect. To the winners of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Honorable Mentions they are perfect, very good, good and fair in that order.
        And so, to the winners in general, the judges have made their choices well, with a rare degree of insight and honesty. To the rest of the contestants they are bifocal deficient, biased, bribed or blind. But we losers, also being democratic, realize that judges must be allowed freedom of thought, speech and decision, and that as Americans, under the constitution, they have an inviolable right to their stupid opinions.


Volume 21, Number 2
April 1967

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