Chautauqua Bird Tree and Garden Club presents

Chautauqua in Bloom

2015 Garden Recognition Event

Judging your garden

The following guidelines explain how the independent judges will evaluate the gardens of those participating in this garden recognition event. The gardens will be reviewed on Wednesday, July 22 and scored in each of the following categories. The Eco Garden category will have an adjusted scoring plan.

Skilled judges evaluating many criteria on this year's Chautauqua In Bloom event

Skilled judges evaluating many criteria on this year's Chautauqua In Bloom event

1.    DESIGN/LAYOUT: This means your use of the space you have.  Gardens score well that show an overall plan (so that it isn’t “hodge-podge”). Judges are asked to consider balance, proportion and use of effective design elements such as repetition, focal point, framing, line and flow.

2.    PLANT SELECTION: The judges consider the plants selected and evaluate the plant combinations, the variety of plants (including heights, shapes, texture, foliage), use of unusual plants or unusual uses of common plants.

3.    PLANT HEALTH: This category rates how healthy the plants look.  Judges ask themselves whether the plants look full and bushy, whether the leaves are healthy (versus damaged or brown), and if there is abundant bloom (on plants that are supposed to bloom, of course!) The judges will know the expected bloom time.

4.    GARDEN CARE: Is your garden neat and clean? Are the edges neatly defined? If so, your garden would rate well in this category.

5.    COLOR: This category often arouses lively debate about what is “good”.  But judges don’t have any difficulty if they start with the primary question; Is there an overall color plan?  Whether judges like a particular color or plan isn’t so important - but it matters that you have a plan and it isn’t just haphazard!  Judges will also factor in the use of “neutrals” or “blenders”, such as greens and grays, or perhaps white or dark red foliage for creating color harmony. And, does the color scheme suit the house and setting?

BONUS POINTS: Finally, there is a special category for efforts that don’t quite fit the standards above.  It is called the  “WOW Factor” because it applies to the gardens that make judges and passersby walk away just saying “Wow”!  These points are given rarely for they are for the garden with so much appeal that people stop to look.  It may happen because of luxurious, abundant color, or because there is a striking theme, or perhaps outstanding originality and imagination. So if you create a garden with some special impact this is one category that might help a winner stand out above the rest.

* You may also use eco-friendly gardening practices to increase your score.


Adapted  from an article by Sally Cunningham published in Extension Line Lookout, April 1997.