Harold Baker


Can we all agree that roses in a rose show should be displayed in as beautiful a manner as possible? This usually requires a wedge to enable an individual specimen to stand up straight and tall like a Queen, and is absolutely essential in Challenge Classes to precisely establish the relative position of the specimens.

There are two common arguments employed against the use of wedges. The first argument is that the wedges are sometimes shoved inside the vase and some people have had bad experiences attempting to remove them. Make yourself a tool by taking a coat hanger wire and bending the tip to make a hook that will just slip through the neck of the vase. Turn the vase upside down, insert the "extractor tool", place the open hook above the errant wedge and pull down. The wedge is pulled out easily every time unless the wedge is made of a sticky material like floral clay which should be prohibited. The second argument against the use of wedges is that some specimens are difficult or impossible to water. This is true if a person thinks they need to plug the entire opening of the vase to hold the stem securely but this is faulty thinking. There is no problem in watering a properly wedged specimen if the person uses a laboratory squeeze bottle with nozzle. You would be surprised how fast a sloppy wedger learns the proper way after he sees two or three of his roses wilt because he has crammed the neck of the vase full of wedging material instead of doing it properly.

These bad experiences have became widespread in recent years as a result of people writing in their schedules that the only wedging material allowed is clear plastic. This is a material that is entirely unsuitable for use as a wedge. The person who started this practice apparently forgot that the primary objective is to make the rose look beautiful not the wedge.

I consider the green Styrofoam wedge to be the "Cadillac" of wedges and it's use should be allowed in all rose shows. Let me make it clear at this point that I am not talking about Oasis. Green Styrofoam is available in sheets of 1 inch and 2 inch thickness at craft stores. If you have a choice purchase the 1 inch thickness. The same material is commonly found in a white color at your discount retailers. You may want to share your purchase with others since one sheet of Styrofoam will make several hundred wedges.

Lay the sheet of Styrofoam on a cutting board and slice off strips about 5/16 to 3/8 inch thick just as though you were slicing ham. A pocket knife works well. If you are using 2 inch thick material recut these slices so they are 1 inch "tall". Lay the slice flat and make a diagonal cut so the length along the top of the wedge is about 1/2 inch and the length along the bottom edge is about 3/4 inch. Now cut the second wedge by making a square cut so the bottom edge is about 1/2 inch and the top edge is about 3/4 inch long. See figure #1.

After you make the first two or three wedges try them and make any required adjustments in size. There will be no need to measure each one. Their size doesn't need to be that exact. However, it is important that you use them properly. Grasp the stem of the rose in your left hand and hold the stem about 1/4 inch higher in the vase than you wish it's final position to be. Then place the square edge of the wedge against the stem and the tapered edge against the tapered mouth of the vase. Naturally the small 1/2 inch width is down. Then press the wedge and the stem down together (the wedge shouldn't slide against the stem) until the top of the wedge is lower than the top of the vase. The stem should be secure and you should see a narrow slot opening on each side of the wedge. This will allow water to be placed down through one opening while air bubbles escape up through the opposite opening. Make a second batch of thinner wedges to use for Miniatures by slicing off 3/16 to 1/4 inch thick strips from the main block, then following the same procedure that you used for the big wedges. Put the wedges in baggies and you are ready to go to the show.

This wedge has it all. It not only looks better than clear plastic but it truly does hold the specimen securely. It only takes a second to press it into place while clear plastic can consume inordinate amounts of time trying to get it right. All this and you can still water the rose! Make the wedges up ahead of time. It takes a lot longer to read about them than it does to make them. You can make up all you need for a rose show while you sit through one those mind numbing TV shows one evening. Try them and I am sure that you will love them.



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