For growers entering SAF’s 2015 Outstanding Varieties Competition, Sept. 9, the next few days will entail a whole lot of packing, prepping and preening their product.
SAF’s much awaited annual Outstanding Varieties Competition will have 33 companies with 225 entries vying for best in show and blue ribbon honors.
This year’s contest draws a field of 225 entries from 33 companies, from Florida, Oregon, California, Ohio, Hawaii, Colombia, Ecuador and Israel.
Among them: Eufloria Flowers, which nabbed “Best in Show” last year for ‘Blushing Parasol‘, a multi-toned spray rose with shades of pink and peach.
Also returning: Oregon Flowers in Aurora, Oregon, which took home several ribbons in last year’s competition, including ‘Amarossi’, an Oriental lily that won both “Best in Class” (for bulb flowers) and the coveted “People’s Choice” award. Operations manager Tyler Meskers is hoping for similar results this year. “We’re entering five varieties, based on their availability next year and their vase life,” he said. “We looked for varieties that have the same qualities as ‘Amarossi’: a strong stem, compacted and dark foliage, and a large flower presentation.”
Another Outstanding Varieties veteran, Golden Flowers, which won “Best in Class” for ‘Pumori’, a pink alstroemeria, will have 15 entries this year. Technical manager Jody Whitekus says he enters newer varieties he thinks will have strong market appeal, be it for color or texture, for instance. “We want to capture customers’ attention and get them to think about us when they’re back in their shops and they’re ordering flowers,” he said.
Reading these growers’ comments, you might detect a theme: Outstanding Varieties is not merely a floral beauty pageant. Overall presentation counts, but judges also scrutinize entries for color and commercial appeal, stem and foliage, and bloom form and size.
Judging on “prettiness” is impossible, say former judges.
“Everything looks beautiful,” said Karen Fountain, AAF, of Flowers ‘n Ferns in Burke, Virginia. “You have to train yourself not to compare the flowers. You have to forget what you just saw so you can judge each variety on its own merit.”
Jessica Cosentino, AAF, PFCI, of Cosentino’s Florist in Auburn, New York, echoed these sentiments. “With only a few exceptions, everything is really, really pretty,” she said. When she’s evaluated entries, she focused on usability. “I always ask myself, ‘How would I use this in a bouquet or in a funeral piece?’ and I pause at the really tall entries and consider if they’re ‘too big’ for most consumers.”
To provide a range of perspectives, the judging panel includes three growers, three wholesalers and three retailers.
Stayed tuned for the Sept. 16 issue of E-Brief to discover which flower emerges as the winner!