Judges Corner

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Vendor Insurance from Duuo

Hello! We’re excited to announce that we have partnered with short-term vendor insurance provider Duuo! Through this partnership, we’ve developed insurance packages specifically designed for vendors at Ontario Horticultural...

December 2023 50/50 draw

The 50/50 Draw winner has been selected!

Get a quote and get a $20 e-gift card on Co-operators!

Get a quote. Get a $20 e-gift card Cooperators Insurance is running a home and auto insurance incentive offer for all OHA affiliated members from October 16th to November 27th, 2023. Anyone receiving a quote during this time period will receive a $20 e-gift card....

2024 OHA Convention in Guelph

Save the Date for the 2024 OHA Convention in Guelph Ontario!

The 2023 Summer Issue of Trillium is here!

Be sure you have a few minutes because once you open this wonderful summer issue of the OHA Trillium, you won’t want to quit reading. Many of those who submitted the well-written articles, also sent amazing photographs to enhance their stories. The information to be...

2023 OHA Convention

The 115th Ontario Horticultural Association convention is taking place at the Brookstreet Hotel in Ottawa, District 2.

The 2023 Spring Issue of Trillium is here!

What are the Garden Clubs and Horticultural Societies in Ontario planning for 2023? Who won the latest OHA 50/50 raffle and how can someone get in on a chance to purchase a winning ticket for the next draw? When and where is the 2023 OHA Convention and AGM? What other...

Spring Youth News Letter

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While the chilly weather and cold winds blow, you can enjoy the articles and pictures, all cozy and warm indoors, while you enjoy garden updates and news from clubs and societies throughout Ontario in the winter 2022-23 issue of the OHA Trillium newsletter, right here...

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Video Resources

Registered Judges Listing

Looking for a Judge who is certified by the OHA, or by other organizations? We have a listing of registered judges that you can search by name, city, District, or certification.

View the list.


Answers to Your Questions and Quandries


Design Classes

Q. How do I judge a design with artificial flowers or foliage?
A. Read the schedule carefully if it is permitted in the rules then you judge based on the principles and elements. If the schedule indicates no artificial or says follow OJES then you would have to disregard the design but add a very kind comment that lets them know that either the schedule and or OJE does not permit artificial materials. Some fairs do have a section for a design done with artificial flowers and, here again, the elements and principles apply just like a design with live plant materials.

Fruit and Vegetable Classes

A. How do you judge a sunflower seed head?
A. It is a horticultural specimen and should be viewed as a Vegetable and or Fruit – One entry with a scale of points – Condition 40 Form and Color 30 Size typical of cultivar 20 Distinction 05 Named 05.

Perennial Classes

Q. In the ‘Any other Perennials Class’, would the following specimens be entered: Hydrangea, Spirea, Butterfly Bush, and a bedraggled Heliopsis? Are Hydrangea, Spirea, and Butterfly Bush considered Perennials?
A. Hydrangea, Spirea, Butterfly Bush are all Shrubs, Shrubs are defined as a woody perennial plant. SO yes, they are Perennial. You would also have to look carefully at the schedule to make sure there was no other class such as Flowering Shrub that they should have been entered in. Often an Any Other Perennial class is listed as Any Other Perennial (not listed above).

Photography Classes

Q. If a photography class asks for flowers, should it be interpreted as more than one?
A. An entry with just one flower should not be disregarded. You are looking for overall artistic merit of the entries.

Youth Classes

Q. How do you judge a “children’s” arrangement when it looks very much like an adult has done most of it?
A. This is a very difficult question. You don’t want to discourage children who have done all the work themselves, but you also don’t want to be accusing a child of getting too much help. As with adults, if it is on the table and was passed by the passing committee then you must judge it. There is no easy way other than to have a quiet word with the Show Chair afterward.



It's Show Time

Q. Once a judge has made a decision, it has been recorded by the clerk, ribbon placed, and the winner announced would it be unethical for the judge to change their mind the next day and change the prize list?
A. Yes, it would be unethical and unprofessional. As a Judge, you need to carefully make a choice and once that choice has been recorded and announced, you should not change your decision.

Q. Should Clerks be talking while judging is ongoing?
A. OJES Page 24 Clerks should not offer Advice or unwanted information and should not follow judges too closely unless invited. The Show Chair or designate should be available. If a clerk is distracting, you politely ask them to stay back a bit and refrain from comment as it distracts you from giving full attention to the job at hand. A quiet word with the Show Chair afterward may help to make sure the Clerk does not distract in the future.

Compliance and OJES

Q. Are there any sanctions in place for judges found not complying with good judging ethics? Can a Society put questions of this nature to the OHA Executive?
A. There is no formal complaint mechanism set up by the OHA to deal with Judging Ethics. However, the OHA now has a Judging Committee so the concern could be communicated to the Committee for its consideration. The easiest way is to make sure you do not ask the Judge in question to judge again. Word does get around about a Judges reputation.

Tips for Judges

Q. When Judging scented Roses, what can be done to prevent scents from overwhelming your sense of smell?
A. Bring a few coffee beans in your pocket and smell them between the different entries. It helps to clear your nose.

Ontario Judging and Exhibiting Standards for Floral Design and Horticulture (OJES) Revised 2019 Edition Available Now!

OJES 2019 is a reference publication that covers a variety of topics related to the organization and running of a flower show. It includes schedule writing, information on classes of plants to include, and the standards regarding judging of horticultural specimens and floral designs. It addresses everything you need to know about staging a flower show and preparing your entries. The rules and guidelines in this book will be used by the judge to assess the quality of exhibits and the awarding of prizes. This publication is a joint effort of the OHA and GCO. OJES 2019 is used by Judges as a reference when they judge and is a training book for new judges. OJES 2019 can be ordered from the OHA Garden Shop

For a look at what’s new, please click here.

Judging Forms and Applications

Please check the Resources Page for our Judging Committee Forms and Applications

OHA Judges List

For a list of all OHA-certified and otherwise-certified judges please search our Judges List. If you have questions about judging or the judges list, please email us.

To access judging forms and applications, please see our resource library under Shows and Judging

Covid-19 has affected the ability of Judges to participate in 2020 events that would count towards their credential requirements. The lack of opportunities to enter shows, take updates, give demonstrations/talks, attend seminars or presentations means that those Judges who would have the year 2020 as part of their 3-year renewal period are at a disadvantage.

To address this issue judge’s renewal dates will be deferred as follows:

  • 2021 renewal dates will be deferred to 2022,
  • 2022 renewal dates will be deferred to 2023, and
  • 2023 renewal dates will be deferred to 2024

If you have any questions about this please contact us at ohajudges@gmail.com

All judges will be notified by the OHA Judges Registrar of these deferrals. It is hoped that 2021 will have opportunities to participate in credentials events. Please make sure you take advantage, if possible, of any virtual Judges updates. Virtual demonstrations, seminars, and presentations on design and horticulture taken by judges or given by judges will also count. Please keep track of times, dates, and topics covered for your renewal form. Please print off a revised renewal form (updated Oct 27/20).

Information on Judges Updates will be posted on the web as soon as the Judging Committee becomes aware of them. Districts are asked to keep the Judging Committee advised of judges updates they are offering by emailing: ohajudges@gmail.com

Upcoming OHA Judges Schools and Updates

Listed below are contacts and dates for Judges Schools & Updates:

Course TypeDistrictLocation of CourseNext Course
Update4Nestleton Community HallSept. 15, 2024
School5GCO School - Landscape Ontario, 7856 Fifth Line, MiltonSept. 14, 21, 28
Update17Nestleton Community HallSept. 15, 2024
Course TypeDistrictLocation of CourseNext Course

About the Judging Committee

The OHA Judging Committee provides guidance and support to the OHA to ensure sustainability and succession planning associated with judging and judges. The Committee is made up of the Chair, selected members, the Judging School/Updates Coordinator, and the Judges Registrar.

Ontario Judging Committee Contact List

Contact the Committee at: ohajudges@gmail.com

Chair: Penny Stewart

Members: Kathryn Lindsay, Sharon Nivins, Jim Mabee, Patty Carlson, Catharine McGill and Linda Bartlett

Judges Registrar: Sharon Nivins

Judging School/Updates: Jim Mabee

The Committee is responsible for

  • ensuring consistency in the training, updating and use of OHA judges across Ontario;
  • guiding and supporting the work of the OHA Judging School/Updates Coordinator;
  • guiding and supporting the work of the OHA Judges Registrar in maintaining and promoting the OHA Judges Registry; and
  • providing guidance on judging best practices (e.g. registry of Q&As).

It maintains contact with other organizations involved in similar work (e.g. Garden Clubs of Ontario, Royal Botanical Gardens, and Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies).

Judges’ Learning Library

The OHA encourages districts to work with our Judging Committee and our Judging School/Updates Coordinator to offer Judging Updates to help judges stay current. All documents are in PDF format.

Judges Comment Writing   |  Judges Ethics & Etiquette  |  Judges, How to Exhibit  |  Judges Show Schedules | Judges Photo and Virtual Show Guidelines | Q_A_Judges_handout for OHA Convention 2023 |  OHA Schedule Writing Part 2

Have a Question about Flower Shows or Judging? Email us!