Judging the gardens at the Maine Flower Show is a complicated process. For the first time this year, I got to see that process firsthand.

The seven judges, a panel made up of professors of horticulture, professional landscapers and a certain garden columnist (ahem), had to rate each of the 12 display gardens at the show in about 10 categories, including how well the garden fit the theme of the show (“Rooted in Maine”), how healthy the plants were and how well the design was coordinated.

The judges also voted on 10 of the 11 awards being presented. The last award, Best in Show, is judged separately. Judges were asked to list their first choice, and were allowed to add their second and third choices. The judging sheets were collected, and two Maine Landscape & Nursery Association members tallied up the points to determine the winners.

So the fact that the Campbell-Maine Heritage Timber Frame garden won just one category award compared to six category awards for the Terrapin-Pierson-DeWan garden had no effect on the Best-in-Show results, which the former garden won. The awards had different criteria.

The Best in Show winner took home $500; winners of the 10 other awards got $300, while the winner of the People’s Choice Award got a plaque and bragging rights.

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