The Boxwood Graden Club hosted the Garden Club of Virginia’s 75th Annual Rose Show at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia. Entries were accepted on October 1st and the morning of October 2nd. The show was judged on Wednesday October 2nd. Immediately after the completion of judging the show was open to the public. Additionally, the show was open the following day from 9 AM to 1 PM. The Garden Club of Virginia is one of the most unique local rose shows due to the fact of accepting entries over a 2 day period, being open to the public for 2 days and held in the middle of the week. The Garden Club of Virginia consists of forty-seven garden clubs with well over 3,000 members.
This was the first time I attended the Garden Club of Virginia. I was able to stop by on my way to North Carolina for work the following day on a scorching hot and humid 90 degree October day in Richmond which was well above normal for that time of year. The Garden Club of Virginia is not a rose specific club and therefore is a bit less competitive than the typical rose show that I exhibit at or attend, but that is not to say there were not fine roses grown by their members. In fact the showcase of the rose show is the arrangements by members representing their local clubs. I do not know exactly how many arrangements there were in total, but arrangements lined most of the perimeter of the large showroom and in the main lobby hallway. It was a a spectacular display of arrangements.
John and Cherrlynn Smith are amongst the finest exhibitors in the country and drove down from Westminster, Maryland. Incidentally, John did not originally plan to show at the Garden Club of Virginia but accidentally cut roses for a rose show to be held ten days later. To no surprise the Smiths’ hybrid teas were head and shoulders above the rest of the competition and swept the hybrid tea court. The Queen of the Show was a clean white specimen of ‘Crystalline’. I personally did not pick this rose for Queen due to the trimmed petal in front of the bloom. The bloom did get better as the day went along but after judging concluded. John’s own creation ‘Randy Scott’ finished a close second and was awarded King of the Show. This was a huge specimen and was very clean and fresh. The bloom was fairly round from the top but one of the outer petals “sprung” back up. Despite the fault in the profile I picked ‘Randy Scott’ to be Queen as it had that “Queen” look that I thought the ‘Crystalline’ lacked. Overall the ‘Randy Scott’ was a more powerful stately bloom and overall package. ‘Gemini’ rounded out the court as Princess of the Show. One could argue John and Cherylynn’s ‘Snuffy’ or ‘Dina Gee’ should have finished ahead of ‘Gemini’. In addition to sweeping the hybrid tea court the Smith’s won the Best English Box (‘Moonstone’, ‘Louis Estes’ and ‘Let Freedom Ring’), Collection of 6 hybrid teas (‘Randy Scott’, ‘Dublin’, ‘Dina Gee’, ‘Louise Estes’, ‘Moonstone’ and ‘Gemini’), 3 red hybrid teas (‘Veteran’s Honor’), 3 hybrid teas same variety (‘Moonstone’) and 3 hybrid teas different variety (‘Pop Warner’, ‘Signature’ and ‘Snuffy’).
Pam Powers took home her share of hardware winning 10 trophies. Pam won the miniflora Queen of Show with ‘Baldo Villegas’ and easily won Miniature Queen with a nice specimen of ‘Fairhope’. In 2013, Pam won 4 Miniature Queens which included the Penn-Jersey District Queen with ‘Soroptimist International’ and 3 times with ‘Fairhope’. Without question, I think Pam is the finest exhibitor of ‘Fairhope’ in our area. I admire the consistent quality and size she can get from this variety. Pam also was awarded the Miniature Princess with ‘This is the Day’.
Newcomer Sandra Friend had a very nice showing winning the Miniflora King of Show with ‘Solar Flair’, novice hybrid tea with ‘Peace’ and best hybrid tea / grandiflora open bloom with ‘Queen Elizabeth’. It is always nice to see new faces exhibiting roses and I am hoping Sandra continues to exhibit in the future.
Unfortunately there was some controversy at this year’s Garden Club of Virginia Rose Show. The Miniature King of Show was a beautiful entry of the single rose ‘Gizmo’ exhibited by Kathy Watson. The miniature court as well as the larger flowered hybrid tea and mini flora courts are for exhibition type blooms excluding singles. A few judges felt the ‘Gizmo’ was so outstanding it should be eligible for the court which in turn was disagreed by a few judges based on a single petaled rose not being eligible for court. While there were not a ton of miniature entries at the show there were several other exhibition type varieties that were more than worthy of making the court. The choice of placing ‘Gizmo” on the miniature court was a bit puzzling to some in attendance. Nevertheless Kathy Watson entry of ‘Gizmo’ was a very good entry and beautiful bloom. Kathy Watson was awarded the Miniflora Princess of Show with ‘Tiffany Lynn’ with a rose that appeared to be misnamed and had the color profile and stem and foliage that was a dead ringer for the miniflora ‘First Choice’ (I grow both ‘Tiffany Lynn’ and ‘First Choice’). A fellow judge who was in attendance but not judging also suspected it was not ‘Tiffany Lynn’. Kathy had beautiful winning floribunda spray entry of ‘Dancing Pink’ that drew the attention of many.
I was fairly impressed with the roses exhibited at the Garden Club of Virginia Rose Show. With the unpredictability of fall weather, roses can look a bit weathered for this time of year. John Smith stole the show with his big hybrid teas that really stood out in a show of gardeners that are not “rose nuts” like some are. The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is a fine place to show roses despite having a slightly dark show room. All and all, I’m glad I had stopped by to attend my last rose show of the year.