No rose is only a rose under 4-H fair judges' scrutiny

August 03, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Mary Ellen Bay and Joan Mann spent their time yesterday searching for converts to America's most popular leisure activity.

The two, both members of the Carroll Garden Club, were judges for the home-grown flowers division at the Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair. The judging was one of several events during the second day of the fair, which will continue until 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Among today's featured events will be the Western horse and pony show at 9 a.m., swine fitting and showing at 4 p.m. and the annual cake auction at 7 p.m. All fair events are free.

"I like to encourage any gardener," Ms. Bay said yesterday, noting that gardening has beaten out golfing and collecting as the most popular pastime in the United States. "I do this as a community service and to encourage kids to garden."

Ms. Bay and Ms. Mann have been judging plant entries at the fair for at least eight years.

"We show items, just like the children do," Ms. Bay told a 4-H parent as she judged an entry.

"But they don't tell us what we did wrong to our faces," replied Ms. Mann with a laugh.

The judges for garden show contests make long lists of what they didn't like about the flowers, she said.

In the home-grown flowers section, 4-Hers must choose three flowers from their plant that are similar, Ms. Bay said.

"The three blossoms should be as near identical as possible in shape, size, color and stage of maturity," she said. "We're also looking for good foliage with no bug bites."

Ryan Ford, 11, learned that yesterday during his first flower showing.

Although the orange Disco Mix flowers were similar in size, Ryan cut off a little bit too much of the leaves, Ms. Bay told him.

"The foliage shows how well you grew it," she explained, giving that exhibit a red, third-place ribbon. "We can tell a lot about the way you garden from the leaves."

His Hero Red flowers did much better, earning him a blue ribbon.

"I think I did pretty good," said Ryan, a member of the Finksburg Funnies 4-H Club. "I love working with flowers and thought it would be really neat to show them."

Judging for the dish gardens and terrariums is based on appearance, said Ray Bosmans, a home and garden regional specialist with the Cooperative Extension Service.

Mr. Bosmans said he has been judging in Carroll for 10 years.

"I look to see that the plants are groomed -- that they've gotten all the dead leaves out and the pots are cleaned," he said. "I also look for a little artistic arrangement, but that's not the only important factor."

Participants are also asked the names of the plants and how they cared for them, Mr. Bosmans said.

Entries are judged on the Danish system, which compares the projects with a standard rather than with each other, he said.

"I want to see how much they've learned from it," Mr. Bosmans said. "That's the important thing, and a lot of them seem to be learning. That's what the 4-H program is all about."

Meanwhile, the Clovers -- 4-Hers 6 or 7 years old -- were getting their entries "judged" by Mr. and Miss 4-H, Jonathan Gibson and Katie Painter.

Clovers are allowed to enter up to five projects, and each receives a participation ribbon rather than a placement ribbon, said Bonni Crispin, who supervises the Clover activities at the fair.

About 200 Clover projects were entered this year.

"We're trying to break them in gently," said Ms. Crispin, 23, who describes herself as the "first Clover in Carroll County."

Young 4-Hers such as David Harney, 6, shyly brought their first projects to the table and answered questions from Katie and Jonathan in quiet voices, occasionally looking up to Mom or Dad for guidance.

"Oooh, Batman," Katie said encouragingly as David placed a black tote bag with the superhero's silhouette on the table. "How did you do this?"

"I traced Batman and spread the paint out, and then I did the sun," David replied. "I don't know where" the tote bag came from.

"That's OK," Katie said, an answer she had given to other entrants with confused looks. "Thanks for coming. Have fun."

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