Flower Show Tips


These tips are set out in order of the current schedule for Cantley Flower Show and are general guidelines rather than rigid rules. They are designed purely as an aid to give exhibitors an idea of some of the tricks of the trade. Hopefully, they will also encourage new exhibitors in particular to take part in the Show.

These tips represent a selection from information published in the Official RHS Guide THE HORTICULTURAL SHOW HANDBOOK and the Women’s Institute Handbook ON WITH THE SHOW 2012 EDITION. Both books can be borrowed from the Flower Show chairman. Further information can be found at the RHS website.


Pot Plants, Cacti and Succulents

  • If staking, tying or wiring is required, it should be neat and not detract from the appearance of the plant.
  • Flowering or fruiting plants should be shapely, with preference given to decorative value.


  • Check the schedule to make sure your arrangement does not exceed the overall dimensions specified and whether accessories are allowed.
  • Ensure mechanics are suitable, secure and unobtrusive.
  • Show good overall harmony regarding choice of colour, texture and form of plant material.
  • Try and create a good design through overall balance, scale, proportion, rhythm and shape.


  • Vegetables should be clean and fresh.
  • All specimens should ideally be alike in size, condition, form and colour. The colour should reflect freshness and trueness to the vegetable.
  • Runner beans should have stalks intact and all pointing the same way.
  • Onions should have roots trimmed and necks neatly tied with (uncoloured) raffia but do not remove too many outer layers of skin.
  • Do not polish tomatoes or remove their calyces.


  • Most fruit should be ripe. Apples, pears and gooseberries may be shown unripe but preference will be shown to fruits in season.
  • All specimens on a dish should ideally be alike in size, condition, form and colour.
  • Stalks should be intact (except apricots, nectarines, peaches and nuts). They should also look fresh
  • Do not polish fruits.

Blackberries and Raspberries (Also loganberries)

  • They look most attractive if placed in lines, eg. 3 lines of 4.
  • Stalks and calyces look best when pointing one way.

Apples and Pears

  • Show with the eye uppermost and stalk end downwards and towards the centre of the dish. Do not cut the stalks

Plums (Also cherries and similar shaped fruits)

  • They look best laid out in lines, or in a circle
  • Stalks should be intact


Bread, Cakes, Scones, Biscuits & Pastries

Generally, the greatest consideration will be given for flavour/aroma, including characteristic for the specific item and a good balance of flavours.

More specifically:


  • Pastries should be evenly baked with the base completely cooked through.
  • These would normally be presented on a plate with a doily if sweet or a dish paper if savoury, although fruit tarts can be served on a cooking plate


  • Cakes should be well risen, even in shape and baking and in proportion
  • Sides should be smooth with lining papers removed and no cooling rack marks on top or bottom surface.
  • Unless stated otherwise, cakes are normally presented on a plate with a sweet doily
  • Both halves of a Victoria Sandwich should be the same thickness with a light sprinkling of sugar (normally caster) on top.

Biscuits, Shortbreads & Traybakes

  • The judge will look for uniformity of size and shape.


  • Exhibit in a plain jar (avoid recycled jars/lids bearing trade names).
  • Containers should be clean and unblemished.
  • Add a suitable label which should state contents and the day, month and year of making.


Generally, the greatest consideration will be given to workmanship and finishing techniques, with extra consideration given to other aspects such compatible colour schemes and suitable materials.

More specifically:

Hand Knitting and Crochet

  • Yarns should be suitable.
  • Take care in casting on, casting off and picking up stitches to avoid holes.
  • Seams should be invisibly joined and loose ends darned in.
  • Patterns should match and tension should be consistent.

Canvas work, Cross Stitch and Embroidery

  • Use suitable yarns to achieve even texture.
  • Stretch before mounting (mounting will hide any trailing threads).

Greeting Cards

  • Use appropriate glue with no glue marks showing.
  • Cut cleanly and neatly with crisp finish, ie corners and folds are accurate and square.
  • Mounts and motifs should be placed squarely and evenly unless deliberately laid otherwise.
  • Does it look good and is it well finished?

Wood crafts (eg wood sculpture, woodwork and wood turning)

  • There should be no apparent vice, lathe or cut marks.
  • The finish should be smooth and polished, eg waxed or varnished


The judge’s decision can be subjective and based on personal preference whilst bearing in mind the following points:

  • Eye appeal (focal point)
  • Colour
  • Perspective
  • Balance and composition
  • Tonal value
  • Use of materials


The judge’s decision can be subjective and based on personal preference whilst bearing in mind the following points:

  • Eye appeal (focal point)
  • Colour
  • Perspective
  • Balance and composition
  • Tonal value

Suggestions and Comments

If you have any suggestions for additional tips or disagree with any of the above then please send your

comments to Robert at robertjbeadle@outlook.com

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