Flower Show Handbook

Excerpts from National Garden Club Handbook for Flower Shows


(Note – numbering follows Handbook)

F. Must be judged by the NGC Standard System of Awarding.

1. Purpose for the Standard System of Awarding.

a. Encourages high quality of exhibits.

b. Insures fair and objective evaluation of all exhibits.

2. All competitive exhibits must be judged by an approved panel of Flower Show Judges. See II, E. Judging panel's decision is final. Ribbons/seals and Top Exhibitor Awards may not be awarded or altered by others.

3. NGC Standard System of Awarding.

a. Scales of Points are based on perfection (100 points) and are the tools used to insure the purposes for the NGC Standard System of Awarding.

1) Scales are composed of qualities or categories with numerical values based on relative importance of qualities to each other.

2) Scales of Points for all competitive exhibits in the Horticulture, Design and Special Exhibits Divisions are found on pp. 297-304.

b. Ribbons/Seals may be offered, but withheld if exhibit/s do not merit recognition.

1) Only one first place (blue) ribbon per class or subclass; must score 90 or above.

2) Only one second place (red) ribbon per class or subclass; must score 85 or above.

3) Only one third place (yellow) ribbon per class or sub-class; must score 80 or above.

4) One or more honorable mention (white) ribbons as merited; must score 75 or above.

4. Examples of 1) to 4) on the previous page.

a. Four exhibits in one class score 96, 93, 90 and 81 respectively. The exhibit scoring 96 receives the blue ribbon; the exhibit scoring 93, the red ribbon; the exhibit scoring 90, the yellow ribbon; and the exhibit scoring 81, the white ribbon.

b. Four exhibits in one class score 9384, 80 and 72. The exhibit scoring 93 receives the blue ribbon; the exhibit scoring 84, the yellow ribbon, and the exhibit scoring 80, the white ribbon. The red ribbon is not awarded and the exhibit scoring 72 is below ribbon range.

5. The entry card of a blue ribbon winning exhibit must be signed by an NGC Accredited Judge on the judging panel.

6. Exact scores may be written on entry cards if schedule requests that judges do so, but must not appear on blue ribbon winners' cards until section and division judging is completed and all competitive awards have been awarded.

7. All exhibits in competition for ribbons and Top Exhibitor Awards must be the work of one individual with the following exceptions.

a. Horticulture Division. Club Competition classes for Displays.

b. Design Division. Club Competition classes for Functional Tables for four or more, Floor Designs, Vignettes, and Companion classes; however, Companion classes are eligible for ribbons only. See Chapter 10, p. 187.

c. Special Exhibits Division. All Educational Exhibits, Gardens and Invitational Exhibits (adult and youth). A Student Judge or Accredited Judge, all levels, may receive credit for an Educational Exhibit only if prepared by that individual and entered in his/her name. A Student Judge must earn a blue ribbon for an Educational Exhibit to receive an alternate exhibiting credit.

8. The practice of identifying on the entry card an exhibit that has earned a score of90+, but has not won a blue ribbon, is required when Student Judges are known to be in competition and suggested for all flower show judging to encourage exhibitors. All such entry cards must be signed by an NGC Accredited Judge on the judging panel. In the examples given on the previous page (F, 4, a) the entry cards of exhibits scoring 93 and 90 would be signed by an Accredited Judge on the judging panel. If actual scores were not written on the entry cards, they would be marked 90+ and signed.

9. Horticulture classes may be subdivided on the day of the show by the Horticulture Classification Chairman. The full complement of ribbons may be offered in each sub-class. Small shows will frequently list in their schedules only plant groups and sizes, etc. rather than genus and species, relying on the Horticulture Classification Chairman to subdivide. Collections and displays should not be subdivided unless there are sufficient exhibits. Typically three of one genus, species, etc. justifies dividing. Note: NGC acknowledges that some fairs and other organizations provide ribbon colors that differ from NGC’s. Nevertheless, number values and all other requirements must conform to the NGC Standard System of Awarding in order to offer and award NGC Top Exhibitor Awards. See Chapter 3 for listing of all NGC recognized awards.

4. Sweepstakes Award.

a. Rosette of green and white ribbons.

b. Two (2) awards may be offered (one to an exhibitor in the Horticulture Division and one to an exhibitor in the Design Division) or a single award may be offered to an exhibitor combining ribbons earned in both major divisions, having earned the most blue ribbons in the flower show.

c. Each award offered may be determined by points (point values shown in. decreasing order for blue to white ribbons) or blue ribbons only (counting only blue ribbons with Top Exhibitor Awards and/or red ribbons to break ties).

d. Rules and manner of tabulation determined by show committee. Tabulations are compiled by show committee using a pre-determined method. Committee names winner.

e. Schedule must indicate the award(s) offered and state the manner in which winner/s are determined.


D. Plant material used in designs need not have been grown by exhibitor unless schedule requires.

E. A single flower or a container-grown plant is not a "design".

F. No artificial flowers, foliage, fruits or vegetables are permitted in the Design Division, or any other division of all Standard Flower Shows. Artificial is defined as "imitation “or a "copy", hand crafted or manufactured, to represent and/or appear as real plant material.

1. Silk, plastic, or other imitation plant material manufactured to copy the typical size, color, and/or pattern of real flowers, foliage, etc., and designed to replace the actual living plant material are prohibited.

2. Manufactured items simulating plant material in a less than authentic manner, yet serving no other purpose than to appear as plant material, are not to be used in competitive design classes. Examples are singing/speaking flowers, motorized flowers, and metallic flowers and foliage.

G. Manufactured items having a basic utilitarian use other than to simulate plant material, are permitted.

1. Examples of some acceptable items are dinnerware, inspired in design by the form of a vegetable has been created not to replace the actual plant material, but to serve as an interesting piece of dinnerware. (Example: Cabbage shaped soup tureen, apple shaped luncheon plate, etc.), a napkin ring in a floral motif is essentially a napkin ring, a Traditional container with three-dimensional flower motif is essentially a container.

2. Example of non-acceptable item would be a fountain featuring metal cattails and/or water lilies. Although it is essentially a fountain, its aesthetic value exceeds it utility.

H. Products manufactured from plant material whose natural state as plant material (branch, tree trunk, root, etc.) has been so altered as to be given new identity and a specific name, is permitted in all sections of the flower show, unless disallowed in the schedule. Examples: paper, lumber, bowl, basket, pedestal, frame, base, etc. If section is eligible for the Designer's Choice Top Exhibitor Award, their use cannot be denied in the schedule.

I. Plant material that has been treated to alter its exterior appearance may be used only in its dried state in the Standard Flower Show. See Chapter 7, p. 154, II, D.

J. Religious symbols used in design must be displayed in a respectful manner and in accordance with policies of local religious organizations.

K. American flag and other national flags must be displayed in a respectful manner. In order not to offend, American and other national flags may not be incorporated into any competitive designs, nor be used as underlays, swags, or the like.

L. Landscapes or scenes are not permitted in Design Division.

M. All living members of the Animal Kingdom, e.g., mammals, birds, fish, etc., and taxidermal representation of the same, are not permitted in competitive designs in the Standard Show.

N. The following are permitted in all design classes unless prohibited by the schedule, law, or specific requirements of a Design Top Exhibitor Award: (List or state HB pages.)

1. Accessory objects and featured objects.

2. Fresh plant material may be clipped, stripped, bent or otherwise manipulated.

3. Contrived flowers or other forms made from real plant materials, fresh and/or dried.

4. Cut fruits or vegetables sealed to discourage insects, odors, discoloration. Any non-perishable food product is also allowed, but must be sealed if the possibility exists for attracting insects or producing an undesirable odor.

5. Objects which add interest when tastefully used, e.g., feathers, antlers, coral, horns, starfish, sponges, sea fans, shells, nests, manufactured or crafted simulations of birds, animals, etc. for toys or as decorative items are permitted.

6. Special lighting not requiring electrical source.

7. All staging properties, such as panels, frames, pedestals, columns, boxes, cubes, etc. may be incorporated into designs. Schedule may not prescribe their precise use if eligible for Designer's Choice Award.

8. Container-grown plants growing in soil, as part of a Still Life, Pot-et-Fleur, Vignette and Exhibition Table, type 2 classes, etc., where appropriate.

9. Living plants with roots attached, e.g., moss, Bromeliaceae.

I 0. Plants on state conservation/native plant list, grown by exhibitor or obtained in legal manner and so identified. State policy prevails.

O. When schedule states that a class requires "creative or innovative staging", it is the responsibility of the designer to imaginatively stage her/his design within the assigned space. Schedule may provide or require background panel, frame/s, pedestal, column, cube/s, boxes, etc.

P. If designer is unable to fulfill assignment, it is the responsibility of the designer to provide a substitute.

Q. If designer is unavailable to transport and/or set-up her/his completed design, a substitute person may enter the exhibit/s for the designer. Designer may still receive exhibiting credit, if needed. This is permitted for only completed designs.


1. May be of any design style, Traditional or Creative, and any design type, but reduced in size. Requirements and scale of points are same as for any full size design.

2. Design may not exceed eight (8) inches in height, width, or depth.

3. Plant material and other components (optional) must be small, as scale is important.

4. Staging is not limited to Small Design dimensions, but must be in pleasing proportion to an eight inch maximum design. Exception: If schedule requires that staging prop, e.g., background panel, pedestal, etc., be incorporated into the design that staging must stay within the maximum dimensions allowed for a Small Design.

5. Backgrounds need not be square even though the allotted dimensions in height and width for a Small Design are square; nevertheless, either height or width must exceed in pleasing proportion to the eight inches allotted to a Small Design. Exception: next statement #6.

6. Schedule is free to include a class/es of Small Designs to a maximum size less than 8" in height, width, and depth, but must indicate the size limitations in the schedule and adjust background size.

7. For Small Table Designs, schedule must indicate allotted dimensions of the dining table. This will determine the overall size of the small decorative unit, still not to exceed 5 inches. Pleasing proportions suggest that a decorative unit occupy no less than onefourth and no more than one-third of the table size. This will influence sizes of all components.

8. Miniature and Small Designs are never in competition with full size designs for any section Design Top Exhibitor Award.