Clay Higgins, New Jersey

Chriss Rainey’s Article in Dec 2007 ADS Daffodil Journal

January 26, 2008

Categories: Show Prep and Exhibiting, Shows

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This is the second email on the December edition of ADS Daffodil Journal. This is on Chriss Rainey’s “Making the Very Most of the Daffodils You’ve Got” (“How to decide what to enter and where”)
Chriss, please take my comments with a grin.  I have known you and Spencer for over 10 years and the two of you I have the greatest respect.  I want to show another side of the same story.
Here Goes:  I’m a large shower and I have to plan different from the way Chriss planned in her article.  However, some of the things I do are very much like what Chriss does.
I manage a large amount of daffodils at a show.  I may place in the same show the Quinn, the Throckmorton, the Bozievich Award, the Tuggle, the Havens, and collections of five: Maroon Ribbon, Pink Cups, White and Yellow collections, Red/Orange Cups, 12 of the 13 divisional collections of five, vases of three, single stem entries, and any type special collections that may be available at the show.  I’ve also been known to put in the Watrous, Lavendar, Acqua, vases of 3, single stems, etc., of miniatures as well.  This is all one showing for me and may be 200 or so daffodils.  The only person I’ve seen in the middle Atlantic states that will punish themselves as much as I do and enter this many daffodils in one show is Kathy Welsh.
I can’t wait until the show to start deciding where I’m going to place the daffodils.  Like Chriss said, I may collect multiple times before the show.  I groom and make multiple lists within minutes from the time that I pick the flowers.
My the time for the show, I know which daffodil is going and into which collection.  When I get to the show, all I have to do is collect properties to show the daffodils, and start putting my collections together – from the pre- made lists.
I use one of the yellow mini legal pads that is about 5 1/2 inches across and 10 inches long.  I start by making a list of all division 1, 2, and 3 alphabetically.  When I have multiples of the same daffodil I do what Chriss was showing, I do something like this, e.g., Pink Silk 1W-P, 5.  The 5 tells me that I have five of this cultivar. On the pad, I will have many scratch outs, as when I find another of the same cultivar from another picking, I scratch out the old number and add in the new count.
I make lists for the divisions 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. I repeat this process for miniatures.
I always look at the large collections first.  On a clean sheet on the pad, I will start a new listing, that I will put a title like “QUINN Collection” and number lines to 24.  From the list of divisions 1, 2, 3, I will fill up about 20 of the lined number.  As I select a daffodil from the alphabetical list for a collection, I will “strike” that daffodil off the “main” list.  If I have multiples of the same one, I will reduce the number by one for each collection it will be entered into.
I start my making up the lists for collections as I sort through the daffodils. This sort is to make sure that the daffodils are good enough to qualify for the collection wanted.  As I sort the daffodils, I make a list and put the daffodils into containers “by the collection.”  These are the same containers that I take to the shows with the daffodils already selected and labeled.  After the list are made and the collections are separated, I put labels on the containers so I can remember what they are when I get to the show.
On collections that have divisional requirements, I then go through the remainder of the upper divisions and division 4 to fill out the needed daffodils. Always double check to make sure you have the proper divisional counts, because the judges will. Yes, I have entered an all upper division collection for a Quinn, however, in the Middle Atlantic States, with the competition being so tough, I may have as well tossed them into the “recycle” bin. For fun, I’ve done this twice. I think I got a red one time and an honorable mention the second time.
If you are doing the Throckmorton, carefully lay out the name and color code on the list from the current ADS databank, don’t rely on the ADS Daffodils to Show and Grow.
I proceed through all the collection classes by making up lists for each class and labeling that list, eg., Maroon Ribbon, Bozievich Award, White, Pink, etc.  I sort through each class and assure that I have the appropriate daffodils to show as required for the collections.  I put them into the containers to take to the show and label the containers
During this process I identify vases of three as they are one of my favorites and separate them, again making lists, and getting them ready for the show.
There are always many remaining daffodils.  I keep a spare set of daffodils for each collection.  Usually about 5 for the Quinn and about the same for the other large daffodil collections.  You never knows when one of your main collection daffodils will decide to “die” and you need last minute replacements.  Those not needed as replacements at the show are entered as single stem entries.
The last thing I do before I put the daffodils into the car to transport to the show is I make up the entry cards, and all the individual labels for the daffodils going into that Collection.  I put the individual labels inside the folded entry cards and hold it all together with a large paper clip.
Now I’m ready to go to the show. If I didn’t do all this work up front, I’d never be able to put my daffodils into the show.

18 responses to “Chriss Rainey’s Article in Dec 2007 ADS Daffodil Journal”

  1. Kathy Welsh says:

     Clay, you’re so organized it puts me to shame.  I clearly fly by the seat of my pants compared to you and Chriss.  I’d be way too embarrassed to talk about my techniques after hearing what you do.  I will say that Old Crow bourbon is a big part of my process.  I never start looking at my flowers until I’ve had at least one.  They look much better that way.

  2. Phyllis Hess says:

    Ok Clay,
    I got tired just reading that, you have my admiration for going to all that trouble. That said; it is folks like you and Kathy (and others too numerous to mention) who do go to the trouble that make the shows for the rest of us.
    We love seeing your flowers and we do appreciate you; even when you win all the ribbons!
    I just don’t think I could be that organized!

  3. Bill Lee says:

    Kathy, I believe you are carrying on a very long tradition–“staging fluid” is part of many daffodil shows around the world!

    Bill Lee

  4. Jim Chaney says:

    Clay, thank you for telling us what you do for each show.  So, it takes about 6 weeks to get ready for each show?  You bring the whole town to help? The surgeons didn’t remove your other 4 arms at birth? And you take speed, right?

  5. Donna Dietsch says:
    Clay, Kathy, Bill and Chriss,
    I do some of what Clay does.  I do the lists of everything I pick and pick out the flowers for each class and write the collections down.  I do some separation of varieties, but since I don’t show nearly the same number that Clay does, I don’t do that nearly as much.  I do transport my daffodils dry packed, so separating by size makes more sense to me than by collection.  Since I do know what I am planning to enter, I get the vases ready and put the flowers in them as I take them from the box.
    Clay, I am going to print out what you wrote and keep it inside the Journal with Chriss’ article.  Both have such good ideas, that I want to remember them.  Thanks to both of you.
    Staging juice was how I learned that, Bill.  Both words are proper, and hydration is necessary to improve your mood and it even makes the other people in the staging room look better, which becomes more difficult as the night wears on.
    Donna Dietsch
    in Columbus Ohio where it is trying to get above freezing, but may not make it today.


  6. Clay Higgins says:


    The process isn’t as long as it sounds. If the judging is on a Saturday, I start my lists and make up my entry cards on Thursday night into Friday morning.  When I go to Atlanta, Ga., since I have to drive all day Friday, this is all done by bedtime on Thursday night.  After that, it’s on to the show and start staging Friday night. 
    When do I start selecting daffodils for the show? Answer: when the daffodils are ready.
    Just remember guys, I’m an engineer by trade.  Have you ever heard of an Engineer building a bridge without designing it first?  Just doesn’t happen. Daffodil staging is like a bridge, better done after planning.
    I use Coffee instead of the original “staging fluid” that Kathy and Bill talked about.  I like the original, however ever since I was 37 (and that was a few moons ago) it gives me heart palvatations.  Now that is something I like to do without.
  7. Clay Higgins says:


    Thank you.
    LOL. I talk to my daffodils.  I’m out there in the garden with my daffodil collection bucket to pick a couple to enter in a small collection and these daffodils keep yelling out to me that they want to go to the show.  So I end up with too many daffodils, and instead of keeping them for the next show, and knowing they want to go to the show, I find a place for them.

  8. Clay Higgins says:


    I’ve learned that when I travel long distance to shows, such as Atlanta, GA., and Morristown, NJ to cut back on my numbers of daffodils that I take in the Car. Sometimes luggage gets in the way. I do pack all my daffodils in water, even for day long trips. However, last year, I cut back, took only my best, entered a few collections and was shocked with the Silver ribbon. Sometimes it happens when you least expect it. Sometimes you decide that you only want one ribbon at a show, the silver, and act according. I think Bill Lee introduced it as the “Piggy” award a few years ago. LOL



  9. Chriss Rainey says:

    Thank you Clay for another version of what I described in the Journal article. The point I wanted to make and which you reinforced quite well is that winning big at any show requires a lot of homework  Exhibitors don’t somehow just get lucky and win a lot of collection ribbons.  You have to be organized and disciplined.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is pulling your leg.And if this sounds like a lot of work, well, it isn’t.  Actually it’s as much fun as working a puzzle.  After a while just sorting yourself out can be as rewarding as actually winning.  Which is why Clay was willing to put together those Quinn collections with all upper division flowers.  He did it because he could, and because it was fun.  I have seen him do this and personally I thought the collections were stunning.


  10. Chriss Rainey says:

    Well, you’ll be happy to know, Kathy, that the Richmond staging room will have a cash bar, just for those of you who need a wee goldie before getting down to work on their flowers.


  11. Clay Higgins says:


    I did the upper division Quinn Collections because I could, because it was fun, and because I looked at the show bench and saw that Kathy Welsh and Bob Huesmann had a lock on the Quinn. LOL. Sometimes when you are exhibiting, you just know when your “good” flowers are just not quiet good enough. So you put flowers into the show to support the show.  I really enjoyed those upper division Quinn collections.  I’m going to do it again sometime soon. 
  12. Donna Dietsch says:
    Clay, I love the idea of your all upper division Quinn entry.  If I were judging, I would have tried very hard to award you the ribbon.  If you thought the other two were better, you were probably right, but yours would have been the talk of the show.
    I once did an all division three Throckmorton entry which won.  I also remember a Green ribbon entry by Ruth Pardue which was all white and pink cups.  Absolutely lovely, I remember.  Don’t remember if it won or not. 
    I think we should reward an entry which shows some work involved in getting it on the show table.  That is, of course, provided that it merits the ribbon.  I’d love to see an all white Quinn, too.
    Donna Dietsch

  13. Kathy Welsh says:

    Donna Clay and others,

    I remember Loyce’s Throckmorton with all 7’s as well.  The upcoming Journal is about pink daffodils.  I don’t know about articles other than the one I wrote, but at the end I suggested it would be a true challenge to stage a Bozievich with all pink cups.  I don’t think I’d have enough to do a larger collection.  In Washington we have a collection of 10 whites which I have entered a number of times.  It is a WDS award named in honor of Pat Crenshaw and the winning medal is my favorite.  I LOVE the idea of an all white Quinn.  Better yet, how about an all white Quinn staged by Bill Pannill.  Now that would be a site!
  14. Donna Dietsch says:
    Ok, Bill Pannill,  Kathy has thrown down the gauntlet.  The convention this year is in your back yard, so it could be easy for you to do it.  We’d all like to see that.
  15. Phyllis Hess says:

    In Washington we have a collection of 10 whites which I have entered a number of times.

    Now that Kathy mentions it we have a collection of 12 whites in our CODS show which I have won a few times. Since I don’t have my daffodil things at my fingertips in Florida, I do believe the Award is in memory of the wife of Wells Knierm; Mary I believe was her name. (Naomi correct me here if I am wrong and I would not rule out that I am.) My friend and mentor; Handy Hatfield taught me to love the whites so I have a wonderful collection of them. Bill it would be great to see that all white Quinn in Richmond.

    Phyllis Hess

  16. Clay Higgins says:
    I won a “Challenge” 10 whites at WDS once, with Margaret Oswalt. It was fun, but I haven’t entered it often since.
  17. Bill Pannill, Florida Bill Pannill says:

    Dear Donna and All:

    You may not remember but at our 50th Anniversary Convention in Washington I announced that I had good news and bad news for the exhibitors. The news was that I  was retiring and would not be entering any more major classes. This was good news for those that wanted to win the awards and bad news for those that had tried unsuccessfully over the years to beat me because they had lost their last chance. Since then I have given away about 90 percent of my bulbs and now only grow three or four bulbs of a variety

    A couple of years ago I could have easily entered an all white Quinn but never did so because I don’t agree that it would be a good thing to do. When the Cary E, Quinn Award was first proposed it was to be the American equivalent of the RHS Engleheart Trophy, awarded to a collection of daffodils grown and shown by the originator and only offered at an ADS Convention Show. While in committee it was changed to it’s present form so that many people could win a Quinn which I think was a good thing.

    The Carey E. Quinn Award Is supposed to be the best daffodils we have and should show a variety of colors with perfect form. Staging is very important.

    Respectfully submitted, Bill Pannill

  18. Donna Dietsch says:
    Well Bill,  I had forgotten that.  It now falls to someone else to do the Quinn besides you, perhaps in all white flowers.  I think there would have been few entries if only hybridizers were allowed to enter this class, and only use flowers they bred themselves.  I understand your reason for not wanting to enter an all white Quinn, but in my mind’s eye, it would have been a lovely thing.
    I’m looking forward to seeing you in Richmond.  Take care of yourself.