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Rose Rules

The Bermuda Rose Society

Rules and Point Scoring System for Judging Roses

Guidelines for Judges

Guidelines for Exhibitors


Rules and Point Scoring System

For Judging Roses


This page has two purposes:

1) To provide local and visiting accredited rose judges with the established standard of the Bermuda Rose Society and the Points Scoring System used for judging roses in Bermuda.

2) To supply exhibitors with the official judging rules of the Bermuda Rose Society and a summary of the judging process, so that the activity of exhibiting roses may be both purposeful and rewarding.

Showing a rose is a skill that takes into account the quality and condition of each portion of the specimen. In addition to the shape, colour and freshness of the bloom, judges also evaluate the foliage, stem, prickles, the bloom’s size, and the exhibit’s overall balance. Scent is a consideration only in a Fragrance class.

The ideal exhibition rose simultaneously shows all the qualities and characteristics of its type at their maximum potential, or what is known by the term “Most Perfect Phase of Possible Beauty”. After viewing the overall quality of a specimen, judges systematically determine the extent to which it fails to meet the ideal and note the degree of impairment accordingly. The higher the degree to which a specimen meets its maximum potential under each category in the Points Scoring System, the higher the specimen’s number of aggregate points.

Judges and exhibitors are advised to familiarise themselves with the rules and guidelines prior to participating in an exhibition.


1.) Any Bermuda resident may exhibit roses that he or she has grown.

2.) Each exhibitor must have obtained an individual exhibition number prior to the exhibition’s closing date for entries. No exhibit may be entered jointly.

3.) An entry tag must be fully completed for each entry and attached to its container. Non-compliant entries may be withheld from judging.

4.) Where applicable, junior exhibitors will use tags bordered in blue; adults, green; adults whose roses benefit from the employment of professional gardeners, yellow; and professional gardeners, red.

5.) A junior exhibitor is defined as one who has not reached the age of eighteen years on the exhibition’s closing date for entries.

6.) Exhibitors may enter any class more than once (unless the class schedule states otherwise) provided that each entry is of a different variety. Multiple entries in the same class must be tagged and shown individually. (Note: Bush and climbing forms of the same cultivar will not be considered “different varieties”.)

7.) The proper naming of roses and their classifications is the responsibility of the exhibitor. No entry will be penalised for being wrongly named or classified. An entry that is known to be wrongly named, yet cannot be positively identified, will be judged as labelled.

8.) Any misplaced or mislabelled exhibit discovered during the course of judging will be moved to its proper class. If that class has already been judged, it will be re-judged with the moved entry included. An entry that is moved to its proper class and thus becomes a duplicate entry will be disqualified.

9.) Where it is discovered that an exhibitor has shown duplicate specimens of the same variety in any one class, all of the offending entries will be disqualified.

10.) All roses must be shown on stems with foliage naturally attached, unless the class schedule states otherwise.

11.) Stem-on-stem (see Guidelines for Exhibitors) is permitted in all classes without penalty when it exists below the rims of display containers. Stem-on-stem showing above container rims is subject to penalisation, according to degree of impairment.

12.) Old Garden Roses will be defined as any which fall into CLASSES established before 1867. Modern Roses will be defined as any falling into classes established in 1867 (the year of introduction of the first Hybrid Tea) and thereafter.

13.) Wherever roses of different bloom types (i.e. Exhibition Form, Decorative Form, Single, etc) are judged against one another, all bloom types will be considered to possess equal merit.

14.) Only climbers that have no bush form counterparts will be shown in the ‘Climbers’ class. Varieties that grow in both climbing and bush form will be shown together in classes of the latter.

15.) An exhibit in a One Bloom Per Stem class of Modern Roses (e.g. “Hybrid Teas – One Bloom Per Stem”) must be disbudded and may not be shown with side growth, whether or not side growth terminates in a bud. (See Guidelines for Exhibitors, for disbudding and side growth). Non-compliant entries will be disqualified.

16.) Old Garden Roses may be shown with naturally occurring buds and/or side growth. (See Guidelines for Exhibitors and notes on Presentation under Point Scoring System.)

17.) A spray will be defined as follows: Modern Roses – a minimum of two open blooms, with or without buds; Old Garden Roses – a minimum of one open bloom and one or more buds, whether or not any bud shows bloom colour.

18.) Sprays and single bloom exhibits of the same variety will be shown together but may be judged separately, at the discretion of the judges.

19.) Grooming (see Guidelines for Exhibitors) is permitted on all entries but is subject to penalisation, according to degree of impairment.

20.) Wedging (see Guidelines for Exhibitors) is permitted in all classes other than any in which stems do not form a part of the exhibit.

21.) The application of any artificially enhancing substance (leaf-shine, colourants, etc) or foreign matter (wire, glue, etc) is strictly prohibited and will result in disqualification of the entry.

22.) Judges will not be permitted to touch any specimen but may, at their discretion, lift containers to view entries.

23.) Judges will not be required to award 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, should they determine that an award is unwarranted. ‘Highly Commended’ may be awarded at the judges’ discretion. There will be no ties.

24.) The decisions of the judges will be final.

Judging Best Rose in Show

The Bermuda Rose Society prohibits judges from favouring any bloom type or colour over another.

Entries that qualify for consideration of the award will be displayed together and numbered by stewards for private assessment by all judges.

Each judge will make a selection by writing the entry’s number on a piece of paper.

Stewards will collect and calculate the results and announce the winner. In the event of a tie, stewards will remove all but the tied entries for a second round of judging, and will again calculate the results.

If the second round produces another tie, ballots will be placed in a container and a steward will draw the number of the winner.

The Point Scoring System

Roses will be judged in Bermuda according to six criteria outlined in the following Points Scoring System:

FORM – 25 points

COLOUR – 20 points

SUBSTANCE – 15 points

STEM & FOLIAGE – 20 points

PRESENTATION – 20 points

The form, colour and substance of many kinds of roses, as well as their leaves, can change very quickly, sometimes within a matter of minutes. Occasionally, a bloom or its foliage soon wilts or an entry is presented before the bloom is sufficiently open for assessment. It should be remembered that all exhibits are evaluated according to their appearance and condition at the time of judging.

FORM pertains to the shape of the bloom in its entirety as well as the layout of a bloom’s individual parts, and is viewed by judges from above as well as from all angles. In the case of a spray, judges also evaluate the distribution of blooms and the overall shape of the inflorescence. An Exhibition Form bloom is considered to show its finest form when the bloom is approximately one-half to three-quarters open. Decorative Form, Single, Semi-Double and other standard bloom types are considered to show their finest form when blooms are approximately three-quarters (or more) open, depending on variety. Bloom size will also be assessed under this heading, according to what is considered typical of the variety.

COLOUR is evaluated in terms of shade (hue), purity (chroma), and intensity (value). Petal colour should be as free of spots, streaks and other blemishes as possible, unless such markings are characteristic features. Note: The judging of a bloom’s stamens (see Guidelines for Exhibitors), where visible, will fall under the heading of Colour.

SUBSTANCE describes a bloom’s freshness and vitality, and plays a major part in what is known as a bloom’s “most perfect phase of possible beauty”. As a bud opens, moisture and starch permeate all parts of the bloom. At its peak, good substance is indicated throughout the individual petals by well-distributed crispness, smoothness and sheen. Loss of substance, the result of moisture evaporation, is first detected along the very edges of outermost petals and in the deterioration of the bloom’s stamens.

STEM AND FOLIAGE is evaluated independently of the bloom. The stem should be sturdy and its straightness representative of its variety. Rub marks sustained during growth and the removal of prickles above container rims are subject to penalisation. Naturally attached leaves are judged according to their development, shape, colour and vitality. Foliage should be clean and as free of damage and disease as possible. Signs of the use of foliar sprays (residual spotting, colour distortion, chemically-induced burning) will be penalised.

PRESENTATION takes into account the exhibit’s general impact and aspects of proportion, balance and display – the bloom’s size relative to visible stem length (see Guidelines for Exhibitors); the distribution and shapeliness, where present, of buds and/or side growth; container size relative to the entry’s height and width; how distinctively the specimen stands; whether foliage rests over or is lodged within the opening of the container; the spacing of stems in multi-stem entries; colour combinations and bloom size consistency in bouquets. Matters of grooming and wedging are also considered under Presentation.

The Bermuda Rose Society

Guidelines for Judges

The Bermuda Rose Society extends a warm welcome to all judges visiting our island.

Since many judges may find themselves viewing unfamiliar roses in an unfamiliar climate, we provide the following information for consideration prior to judging.

Point Scoring System of the BRS

Form – 25 Points

Colour – 20 Points

Substance – 15 Points

Foliage and Stem – 20 Points

Presentation – 20 Points

Headings indicate standard assessment categories for rose judging. Please note, however, the following adjustments:

1) Bloom size assessment falls under Form.

2) Stamens assessment falls under Colour.

3) Balance, grooming and wedging assessment fall under Presentation.

Due primarily to the mild climate, the majority of roses grown throughout Bermuda are Old Garden Roses. In our experience, most of the Modern Roses cultivated and exhibited in colder climates (in particular, Hybrid Teas and Grandifloras) do not generally succeed in our surroundings. Subsequently, Old Garden Roses form the bulk of exhibition entries.

The Bermuda Rose Society is known for promoting the preservation and cultivation of Old Garden Roses, as well as for encouraging an appreciation of their historical significance. Our approach to exhibiting and evaluating their beauty reflects our devotion to honouring the same attributes that sparked their worldwide appeal at the time of their introduction. We therefore do not necessarily see characteristics such as curved necks, irregular sprays or understated bloom colours as weaknesses or flaws but rather as genuine trademarks that distinguish these particular varieties.

Through the increasing importation and experimentation with Modern Roses, we recognise a developing interest in their cultivation locally, particularly as rose breeders produce new varieties suitable for Bermuda’s climate. The Bermuda Rose Society is committed to judging Modern Roses according to established international standards.

Insects While exhibitors are encouraged to present well-groomed exhibits, certain bloom types are extremely difficult to inspect for insects without the destruction of their form. Judges may wish to differentiate between the presence of substantial stationary insects on a leaf or stem and those making a fleeting appearance within a bloom’s petals. The tiny and harmless black thrip, for example, which invisibly inhabits many local varieties, tends to swarm only when a specimen is suddenly moved. It should be remembered that the discretionary lifting of containers during judging puts moved entries at a distinct disadvantage, regarding the appearance of insects, to those assessed without disturbance.

Weather During the months prior to the major exhibition season, Bermuda’s vegetation is prone to strong winds and the damaging effects of salt spray. Where foliage, in particular, consistently shows signs of recent inclement weather, judges may choose to modify their assessments accordingly.

Judging Bloom Progression The Bloom Progression class is open to entries consisting of three separate single-bloom stems exhibited together in one container, showing blooms of the same variety, as follows: a bud showing bloom colour; bloom (without buds) approximately half open; bloom (without buds) approximately three-quarters (or more) open. The usual considerations for Form, Colour, Substance, and Foliage and Stem apply to each specimen within the entry. Presentation considerations take into account the distinctiveness of each of the three bloom stages, uniformity of stem length and foliage distribution, placement of stems in the container, and the spacing of blooms.

An exhibitor may show more than one entry, provided each is of a different variety. All entries are to be judged against each other, irrespective of the number of entries of any one variety.

Judging Bouquet of Old Garden Roses Either six single bloom stems of the same variety or one single bloom stem of six different varieties of Old Garden Roses are displayed together in a sixteen-ounce water glass (supplied). The usual considerations for Form, Colour, Substance, and Foliage and Stem apply. Presentation considerations include, for six stems of the same variety: the extent to which all blooms show the same degree of openness, consistency in shape, colour and size among blooms, and uniformity of foliage and stems; for one stem of six difference varieties: the extent to which each bloom, as well as its foliage and stem, meets what is considered the ideal for its variety. Bouquets are additionally assessed for equal length of stems, placement of stems in the container, and the spacing of blooms.

An exhibitor may show more than one entry, provided that 1) each single-variety entry is of a different variety, and 2) no duplicates are shown from one mixed-variety entry to another. All entries are to be judged against each other, irrespective of the number of one-variety or mixed-variety entries.

Judging Bloom in a Bowl An entry consists of a single bloom, without foliage, that has been placed in a bowl of water (approx. 5 inches in diameter). Entries are viewed only from above. Blooms are judged for Form, Substance and Colour. Fragrance is not a consideration. Presentation considerations include the degree to which the bloom is centred within its container, the size of the bloom relative to the size of the bowl, and the bloom’s overall symmetry.

An exhibitor may show more than one entry, provided each is of a different variety. All entries are to be judged against each other, irrespective of the number of entries of any one variety.

Disqualifications The Bermuda Rose Society has determined that, in the event of a disqualification, judges are required to write the reason for the decision on either the exhibitor’s entry tag or a supplied comment card.

Guidelines for Exhibitors

Successful exhibiting requires the understanding of exhibition rules, careful planning, decision-making and thorough preparation of entries. Remember that it is the appearance of entries at the time they are judged that counts, not the time at which they happen to be picked or submitted at the showground.

The Point Scoring System (PSS)

Rather than a complex scheme, the PSS is best viewed as a practical guide for selecting and presenting entries. Judges themselves use the PSS as a checklist for assessing the various components of a specimen in an orderly fashion.

The best way to develop a clear understanding of the PSS is to practice using it while studying and displaying blooms at home. Reviewing the results of judges also trains the eye to recognise quality entries that have been skillfully exhibited.

Picking Prior to an exhibition, watch the garden for potential entries. It is important to know their names and classifications before the exhibition date, and to have a sufficient number of entry tags on hand.

On the day of the exhibition, pick roses early in the morning, keeping in mind the time of judging. Bloom form can change within a matter of a few hours.

To prolong their freshness, blooms that begin to open the previous day may be picked and placed in the shade.

Where possible, cut long stems (ideally, three times longer than the diameter of blooms) that have two or three (or more) complete sets of leaves. Place cut roses immediately in a clean bucket of fresh water, keeping blooms dry, and being careful not to damage any foliage.

Grooming Begin grooming entries by examining stems and both sides of leaves for insects and debris. If necessary, rinse these parts under running water, using a fingertip to loosen any stubborn dirt. Avoid rubbing any portion of a specimen with sponges or paper towels, which may blemish foliage surfaces. Q-tips and toothpicks serve as handy tools for removing specks of dirt or tiny insects. Blowing directly on blooms is not advised, as it may alter the natural layout of petals.

Prickles, like foliage, form an integral part of an entry and should not be removed. (There is no penalty, however, for trimming or removing prickles that interfere with the insertion of a stem into its exhibition container.)

Once cleaned, inspect sprays for spent blooms. These, along with their individual stalks, should be carefully removed. Damaged or diseased portions of leaves, as well as any decaying edges of leaflets, may be carefully trimmed, using a pair of nail scissors. If reshaping a leaflet with scissors does not eliminate a flaw, consider removing the affected leaflet entirely. Aim for results that look as natural as possible.

Bear in mind that excessive or obvious grooming may result in a greater loss of points than the presence of one or two very minor blemishes.

Before leaving home, complete an entry tag for each entry, ensuring that the requested information is correct and legible. Take grooming tools to the showground, in case any final adjustments need to be made while submitting entries.


clip clip image003 Rose RulesStem-on-stem is permitted without penalty, provided that the joint is not visible above the rim of the exhibition container. Used to advantage with roses that naturally have very short stems, stem-on-stem may help to provide greater stem length for displaying an entry more favourably. However, judges will penalise stem-on-stem that shows above container rims. Should an exhibitor determine that visible stem-on-stem is unavoidable, trim the tip of the lower stem for the subtlest appearance possible.

clip clip image005 Rose Rules 1) clip clip image007 Rose Rules 2)

Disbudding and Removal of Side Growth Disbudding involves 1) the intentional removal of side buds and their stems, in order to produce a “one bloom per stem” entry; 2) the intentional removal of a spray’s leader bud (which typically blooms first), to encourage the simultaneous blooming of all the remaining buds, as well as a more shapely spray. Disbudding is most successfully accomplished in the garden, when the tiny buds first emerge.

Side growth is a lateral stem below a terminal bloom or a spray. While permitted in classes of Old Garden Roses (but subject to penalisation), the presence of side growth on certain Modern Roses may result in disqualification. Read the catalogue’s class regulations carefully.

Buds and Side Growth on Old Garden Roses Unless specific class rules state otherwise, Old Garden Roses may be shown with buds and side growth. However, buds that negatively impact on the form of blooms, and side growth that disturbs the overall balance of a specimen, are both subject to penalties, according to the degree of impairment.


clip clip image009 Rose RulesJudges inspect stamens (where unobstructed by petals) very closely, since they are so indicative of a bloom’s freshness. The stamens of newly opened blooms of most varieties are brilliant or golden yellow, and possess a bristly, radiant appearance. The unmistakable glow of absolutely fresh stamens is one of the most desirable attributes of an exhibition quality bloom.

Showing Sprays Assessed not only for individual bloom quality, sprays are also evaluated according to the number of buds that have opened, bloom distribution, and overall shape. No bloom in a spray should show loss of substance or colour in its petals or stamens. Since the leader bud of a spray typically blooms and deteriorates before remaining buds open, the removal of the leader will likely be necessary. Disbudding the leader bud during the spray’s initial growth will result in a tighter, shapelier spray than one that has had a spent bloom removed immediately before the exhibition. Remember that bloom quality is always the single most important consideration.

clip clip image011 Rose RulesWedging A fragment of material, supplied by the exhibitor, may be placed in the opening of the display container to hold the stem of an exhibit in a fixed position. Wedges that protrude above the rim of the container or that otherwise detract from the exhibit will be penalised. Suitable wedging materials include pieces of stems taken from suitable garden plants (i.e. geranium) and wooden plugs.

Since stewards continually add water to display containers, wedges should not entirely block container openings.

For the information of exhibitors who may wish to prepare wedges in advance, the Bermuda Rose Society’s standard display containers are Perrier water bottles.

Bloom Progression The challenge in this class is to present one bud showing bloom colour, one partly open bloom and one fully open bloom, all of the same variety and each on its own stem, highlighting the three bloom stages as distinctly as possible. The three stems comprise a single entry and are displayed together in one container. Uniformity among the other elements of each specimen, including stem length and foliage, is an advantage. The placement of stems and the spacing of blooms will also be assessed under Presentation. An exhibitor may enter the class more than once, provided that each entry is of a different variety.

Bouquet of Old Garden Roses Bouquets, which are displayed in sixteen-ounce water glasses (supplied), consist of either six single-bloom stems of one variety or one single-bloom stem of six different varieties. Sprays and buds may not be shown. Entry tags must list the names of the variety or varieties shown.

In single-variety bouquets, judges will look for consistency in bloom form, colour and size, as well as uniform foliage and stem length. Mixed-variety bouquets will be judged according to what is considered the ideal for each variety shown. As far as possible, mixed bouquets should also show stems of equal length. Bouquets are additionally assessed for the placement of stems in the container and the complimentary spacing of blooms.

An exhibitor may enter the class more than once, provided that 1) same-variety bouquets are of different varieties, and 2) no duplicates are shown from one mixed-bouquet entry to another.

Bloom in a Bowl An entry in this class consists of a single bloom, without foliage, displayed in a bowl of water (supplied). Bowl diameter is approximately 5 inches. Exhibitors may determine their entry’s water depth.

Judges view entries only from above. Blooms are assessed according to Form, Colour and Substance. Fragrance is not judged. A well-presented entry will be one that is centred within the bowl and of good size, but not so large that outermost petals are confined by the sides of the bowl.

Exhibitors may show more than one entry of different varieties.

Summary of the Ideal Exhibition Specimen:

• A newly opened bloom showing its “most perfect phase of possible beauty”, according to its variety; symmetry; absence of petal blemishes and debris; typical petal colouration; brilliant stamens (if visible); peak substance; size representative of variety.

• Strong, clean and unblemished stems of good length; immaculate foliage (two or more complete sets of leaves); characteristic prickles.

• Complimentary display – skillful grooming; specimen well positioned in its container; subtle wedging, if employed; foliage falling from above or over the container opening, rather than lodged within it.


Bud – an undeveloped bloom.

Cultivar – a variety or type

Degree of impairment – the extent to which a flaw detracts from the ideal.

Disbudding – the intentional removal of a bud and its stalk.

Duplicate – a specimen of the same variety entered in the same class by the same exhibitor.

Found Rose – a term (more commonly used abroad) that describes a variety whose official name and origin are unknown.

Grooming – the act of eliminating or diminishing a specimen’s flaws.

Inflorescence – a spray or cluster of blooms growing on a common stem.

Leaf vs. leaflet – an entire leaf comprises several leaflets (usually five).

Modern Rose – any variety belonging to classes established in 1867 (the year of introduction of the first Hybrid Tea) or later.

Most Perfect Phase of Possible Beauty – a judging term that describes a specimen’s peak of perfection.

Mystery Roses – another term for varieties whose official names and places of origin are unknown, but which in Bermuda refers to the approx. 24 local varieties listed in the “Mystery Rose” class.

Old Garden Rose – any variety belonging to classes established before 1867.

One Bloom Per Stem – a specimen having a stem that terminates in a single bloom, without buds or side growth.

Prickles – the proper term for a rose’s “thorns”.

Side growth – a lateral stem growing below a bloom or spray.

Specimen – a representative portion of a variety, consisting of a bloom or blooms (with or without buds), stem, foliage and prickles.

Stamens – the male reproductive organs of a flower, seen in roses (if unobstructed by petals) as a radial tuft in the centre of the bloom.

Stem-on-stem – a joint formed where a new stem grows from an existing stem.

Wedging – the placement of a fragment of material into the opening of a container, to hold a specimen’s stem in a fixed position.

Guidelines compiled by:

Peter Carpenter – Chair

Diana Hindess

Clare Russell

Susan Swift

Nancy Wadson

Molly White – President

Production: Essie Hans – Vice President

The Bermuda Rose Society

P O Box PG162

Paget PG BX