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Grow to Know ~ Show to Share

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Horticulture Department

Since the beginning of OAGC, promotion of horticultural knowledge and interest has been a powerful force driving The Association’s motto “Knowing, Growing, Showing and Sharing.” To stimulate interest in gardening, the Horticulture department will utilize educational opportunities, competitions, horticultural sales and exchanges.

faqs about the horticulture department and horticulture shows


2023 OAGC Convention

Flower Show ~ Horticulture Schedule

The 2023 OAGC Convention Flower Show ~ Horticulture Schedule indicates that the Horticulture Show will occur during the first two days of the convention, concluding at the end of the second day.  The third convention day will be designated for garden tours.  Therefore, the dates are accurate and are not typographical errors!

This year, new variety classes 23 and 56, adult and junior divisions respectively, focus on Calendula officinalis (kuh-LEN-doo-lah  oo-fiss-ih-NAH-lis), Calendula ‘Ivory/Snow Princess’. Ivory or Snow Princess features almost pure white petals with a dark center, a sharp contrast from the traditional deep orange petals of other Calendula cultivars.  Two sources for seed acquisition include and

In spring, propagate by seed sown in place at a depth of ΒΌ”, 6 – 12” apart.  Seeds will sprout in one to two weeks with 50 – 55 days to maturity.  Plants prefer full sun, rich soil and are frost hardy.  They have a bushy habit whose flowers close at night.  C. officinalis self-seeds readily; remove dead flower heads to prolong flowering and prevent excessive self-seeding.

Besides use as an annual cut flower, C. officinalis is a bittersweet, salty herb with culinary and medicinal properties.  Only the flower petals are used, not the center disk or calyx.  Petals are used as a substitute for saffron in rice and soup, and infused to give color to cheese, butter, milk desserts and cakes; also added fresh to salads.  Consider using Ivory or Snow Princess as an herb cultivar in the Special Container Foodscape Window Box class; check out the 2023 winter edition of The Garden Path for more details.

Draw your attention to Sections L & Q, Special Container Foodscape Window Box, respectively adult and junior divisions. Entries in these classes can be either an individual or a companion effort. For the adult class, two registered exhibitors are permitted to enter and for the junior class, one registered adult exhibitor and junior exhibitor are permitted to enter. Both classes need reservations. Won’t this be a FUN opportunity for a family to create a container together, and later share in the harvest?!

Foodscaping aims to show that edible plants are not only consumable but can also be appreciated for their aesthetic qualities. When planning an edible window box, choose plants that one likes to eat of course, but also select a variety of plants that look nice together. As a guide, use the scorecard for judging window boxes found on page 29 of the Handbook for Exhibitors’ and Judges’. Notice that half of the total points awarded are garnered from the exhibit’s general effect and arrangement of the material. Choose a plant to act as a focal point, one that grabs attention right away, then, add plants with a variety of colors, leaf shapes or textures for contrast. Arranging them in various heights or spilling over can also add interest.

The window box doesn’t provide much growing space, so look for compact varieties suitable for container growing (suitability is worth 15 pts). Visit events at, (where the schedule is available) to learn more about an herb, a newer Calendula variety that would qualify. To ensure earning all 25 of the ‘quality and health of the plants’ points, locate the box where the plants can thrive, obtaining at least six hours of full sun daily and watering as needed. Make certain the planter box is constructed from sturdy material and contains drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.

The book How to Window Box: Small-Space Plants to Grow Indoors or Out authored by Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit

ISBN 978-1-5247-6024-3

is a fabulous illustrated step-by-step resource for all types of window boxes, including edible ones.

Q & A for Cut Flower Specimens

~ Horticulture Exhibition ~

Q.  My colored vase pairs well with my cut flower specimen, so why should I display it in a clear glass one?

  • A:  The vase itself has no bearing on the evaluation of the specimen, however, a clear glass one allows the judge to visibly see the stem.  The stem IS part of the evaluation of the specimen.

Q.  I don’t possess a clear glass vase.  Can I use a plastic water bottle instead?

  • A:  While the bottle aligns to the clarity of the container, its rigidity is now in question.  A judge is permitted to lift the container off the show table, so it needs to be sturdy enough to grasp without expelling water.  Generally, water bottles do not meet this criteria.

Q.  Why is the specimen’s variety name needed on the exhibitor’s entry tag?

  • A:  Two reasons.  First, judging is based on the cultural perfection for the variety.  Without the variety name, a judge is unable to accurately measure that perfection.  Secondly, variety names also serve to strengthen the educational value of the show.  A viewer interested in growing that variety now knows its specific name. 

Q.  My flowering tree or shrub specimen is top heavy and my container wants to fall over.  How might I remedy this so I can still display it?

  • A:  Unobtrusive glass marble, pebbles, etc. may be used for ballast but not as wedging.  

Q.  What is wedging?

  • A:  Wedging is used in conjunction with the stem for the purpose of supporting the specimen so that its pose is at its best for evaluation by the judge.  Wedging occurs in the narrow neck of the vase, still allowing the stem to be viewed in its entirety from the front of the vase. 


Q.  What materials might be used for wedging?

  • A:  Sprigs of yew or other evergreens, styrofoam wedges, wooden wedges, cotton balls, bubble wrap, plastic wrap rolled into a ball, packing peanuts, triangle-shaped makeup sponges, etc.



Q.  What is a flower show schedule?

  • A:  A set of written guidelines containing ALL details necessary to help an exhibitor, either adult or junior, enter the show.  It should be studied early and often to make sure that class requirements are met.  Classes that require pre-registration ahead of the show date are noted.  Awards are also listed. 

Q.  Why do some classes require pre-registration?

  • A:  Pre-registration ensures that ample space is provided on the show table.  Some pre-registered classes have limited entries and are reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Q.  I see that a Sweepstakes Award can be earned.  How does that work?

  • A:  Every exhibitor whose entry(ies) earns placement, also earns corresponding points.   Points totaled as follows:  1st- 5, 2nd- 3, 3rd – 2.  In case of a tie, honorable mentions will count as 1 pt.  The exhibitor who earns the most points is awarded a rosette.   

Q.  How many exhibits can an exhibitor enter?

  • A:  More than one horticulture exhibit may be entered in a class as long as each one is a different named cultivar or variety.  Classes designated ‘Newer Variety’ are the exception; only one entry is permitted.  

Q.  Why are classes designated ‘Newer Variety’ the exception with only one entry permitted?

  • A:  These classes feature one specific cultivar so only one exhibit can be entered. 

Q.  What are the Silver and Gold Medalist Collections?

  • A:  These classes are offered in odd numbered years for exhibitors who wish to enter a collection of multiple varieties (eight Silver, fifteen Gold) of the same cultivar.  Any member in good standing can enter this prestigious competition.  Each variety should be of blue ribbon quality with uniformity in branching, stem length, and container size. 

Q.  Why do container grown plants need to be in the exhibitor's possession for 60 days prior to entering? 

  • A:  The time of possession demonstrates the grower’s skills regarding the plant's care during that time frame.


Q What falls under the department’s direction? 

  • A:  The promotion of horticulture knowledge and interest in gardening, stimulated by the use of educational opportunities, competitions and horticultural sales and exchanges.  

Q.  What are some educational opportunities?

  • A:  Plant identification is taught by the chair at Exhibitors’ and Judges’ Schools.  Plants include a variety of flowers, herbs, container grown, grasses, trees, shrubs, foliage, bulbs, etc. and may cover newer varieties.  Instruction includes the plant’s description with emphasis on hands-on strategies to help retain identification.  

Plant ID
  • A:  Third Thursday Horticulture Tips, voluntarily provided by regional horticulture chairs, are for the current growing season and will change each month, every third Thursday.  Many tips include techniques for growing plants. 

  • A:  Regional horticultural educational exhibits are displayed at the annual convention and at regional meetings held in the spring and fall. The purpose is to share an aspect of nature or gardening worth knowing and to provide inspiration to cause an individual to learn more about the topic.

Educational Exhibit

  • A:  Horticulture related topics, written by the chair, are published quarterly in The Garden Path.

The Garden Path

Q.  What is meant by competitions? 

  • A:  The department organizes and hosts the horticulture division of the flower show held at the annual convention.  However, participation in any flower show at any level (regional, county, club, home, fair, festival) is highly encouraged.  A show provides an opportunity for those with a passion for a particular show class(es) and a qualified entry(ies) to exhibit that which they have grown.  Evaluations, made by accredited OAGC judges, give way to ribboned placements and top awards.  Knowledge can be gained by exhibitors and show attendees when a show is open for oral judging.  

horticulture exhibits

Q.  How do horticultural sales and exchanges work? 

  • A:  Affiliated garden clubs who choose to conduct an annual public plant sale(s) will submit their sales information to both the Horticulture Department and the OAGC State Treasurer.  The treasurer will issue a Nursery Dealer’s Certificate, necessary to protect consumers as any plants sold may be subject to inspection by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  OAGC covers the fee to provide this umbrella service for its garden clubs.  The Horticulture Department compiles the information into a database that is shared via to help promote the clubs’ plant sales to potential patrons.  

Julie Divelbiss

Julie Divelbiss 


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