H: Monday, May 11, 2009

Rhododendron Show: Additional Information


The following advice on preparing a truss for showing was written in 1983 by Evie Cowles for the Newsletter, and reprinted in 1991 by request.  It is still one of the best guides for successful showing we have ever published, and it is reprinted here for our newer members.

A Truss Show - How to Select and Care For Entries

Perfect condition is essential.  This means healthy, unblemished foliage to set off the florets.  If you think of the leaves as a frame for a picture, you will appreciate how insect bites or browning reduces aesthetic appeal.  The large-leaved variety, ideally, is presented as a truss sitting on a perfect circle of leaves.
Blossoms should be open, but not over-mature.  One with a still-closed bud is preferable to another with florets on the point of dropping.  This particularly applies to the selection of azaleas.  As with most cut flowers, rhododendrons benefit from a hardening-off period.  Cutting them the day before the show and setting them in water up to their necks in a cold, draft-free spot helps prevent wilting during the show.  Before they are placed on display, it's a good idea to make a fresh cut of the stem base.  If a heavy rain is predicted before the show, cut your perfect trusses and extend this for a few days.
Very early varieties can be shown out of season if they have been kept in cold storage.  The truss is stored dry in a sealed plastic bag in a refrigerator until the day before the show.  (It is also helpful to inflate the bag by blowing air into it, as if it were a balloon.  This will prevent the plastic from damaging the tissues of the truss).

The stem is trimmed before plunging it in lukewarm water for at least twenty-four hours.
All the care in the world up to this point is useless if the trusses are bashed en route to the show.  For a short drive, it's fine to lay them in shallow boxes.  For a longer distance, it's better to put them upright in water in pop bottles or cans that are braced to prevent tipping or crowding.
Be venturesome!  Let's have lots of Exhibitors!  We'll all enjoy the show more that way - and discover the beauty of some new plants we will want to add to our own collections in the near future.

Tim Craig added at the time of the 1991 reprint:

     It was also suggested by Evie that anyone having a truss of an unusual or particularly beautiful variety, even if the foliage is in poor condition, bring the truss to place it on "the conversation table" (where all late entries will be displayed) for all of us to see and admire.  Many times, your newest plants are still quite small so that if gypsy moths or weevils chew the foliage, there are not a lot of other trusses to choose from - and these are the very cultivars which everyone is eager to see "in the flesh".
Class 27, flower arrangements featuring rhododendrons, should have more entries.  Your plants are constantly getting older and larger, so that you should be willing to cut a few branches and trusses for an arrangement.  Be creative!  Put together a few trusses of your rhodies with some other foliage which you have in abundance.
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