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Hints and Guidelines for Exhibitors

The RHS ‘Horticultural Show Handbook’ (2016) contains advice on exhibiting and explains how exhibits are judged.  The Show Secretary holds a copy of the handbook, which can be consulted by members upon request.  


If you’re a newcomer, or would like advice, please do not hesitate to contact one of the Show Secretaries or a member of the DHHS committee.


  1. Please read the schedule carefully.  Note whether a specific number of items is required in a class, whether own vase is required and any other specifications.

  2. All fruit should be ripe (except apples and pears), shown with the stalks on, show a natural bloom and not be polished.

  3. Currants should be shown in a strip – a complete raceme of berries, best detached from the plant with scissors without any of the woody base.

  4. Wash all roots and clean brassicas.  Cabbages and cauliflowers must have 50 mm (2 ins) of stalk showing.  Lettuces must have roots intact.

  5. Beetroot and carrots should have 75 mm (3 ins) of leaf stalk showing.

  6. Onions (except spring onions), shallots and garlic should have their tops cut off and tied down, the rough outer skin removed, but not too deeply, to show white/green.

  7. Display onions on either an egg cup or cut-up toilet roll tube (not provided).

  8. Shallots should be shown as separate bulbs, not clusters, tops neatly tied. Display shallots on a plant saucer filled with rice or sand (not provided).

  9. Peas and beans should be shown with stalks and bloom left on – i.e. not polished.

  10. Marrows should be even and young, not exceeding 350mm (14 ins).

  11. Sweet corn cobs should have green husks and silks attached but one section of husk should be torn to show full section of kernels.

  12. All produce is judged on condition, size, shape, colour and uniformity. Presentation will count.

  13. Flowers are judged on condition, stems, foliage, form of flower, colour, size and uniformity.  Presentation will count.

  14. Roses may be shown with or without foliage in flower arrangements, wires and oasis should remain unobtrusive.  

  15. Fruit (edible or non-edible) including berries, seed heads and cones may be used in floral arrangements.

  16. Carefully measure the exhibit’s overall dimensions, especially in the Floral Art classes.

  17. Ensure the exhibit does not exceed the stated parameters.

  18. For the exhibits on boards, judges will be looking for an overall match of colour, size and stage of maturity. Try to line up each floret with the same petal orientation. Also ensure there is sufficient water under the board so that the stalk rests in the water.

  19. Jars for jelly, jam and chutney should be clearly labelled with the contents and the full date made.  Plain jars must be used for showing preserves. Trademarks or business names must not appear on any part of the jar or lid. See note 20 and 21 below regarding seals and covers.

  20. Curds should be covered with a breathable top of a waxed disc with a cellophane cover. No caps please.

  21. Preserves and chutneys must be sealed. In order to achieve a true seal you must use a new twist top lid or alternatively, a waxed disc with cellophane cover. Trim wax discs carefully to fit jar with smooth side down directly onto hot surface of the jam, jelly or preserve for an airtight seal when cooled. A cellophane cover is only needed for protection and should be applied once the jam is completely cool. The seal must be intact. Please note that screw-top honey jars do not provide a good enough seal. Preserves should be filled to the top of the jar. 

  22. For preserves containing vinegar, a solid lid should be used.  The vinegar fumes can penetrate other types of lids and cause the contents to dry out.

  23. All food items must be covered with cling-film or a similar covering. The Society will endeavour to supply clear lids / domes where possible.



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