Understand a Show Schedule

This page is one of a set of guidelines aimed at helping competitors.

These BB&O guidelines include extracts from the NAFAS Competitions Manual (2015) and NAFAS Plant Material in all its Forms, presented in a way that makes it easy for competitors to understand.  For official information readers are advised to also refer the following official NAFAS publications:

This page is aimed at helping competitors understand a show schedule.   A show schedule is produced by the show organisers to define the content, structure and rules for the show.   It specifies the classes in the show and, where appropriate, defines associated class types, Exhibit Components and exhibit styles.  It may also describe how competitors can apply to stage an exhibit within a class but this may be accompanying information, eg on a webpage.

Show Schedule

A show schedule defines the content, structure and rules for the show.  It may include additional information but would normally include as a minimum:

  • Where and when the show will be open to visitors
  • Class specifications
  • Details of awards
  • How to enter
  • Times for staging and dismantling


A class is a group of exhibits defined by a title and staging details. A class definition includes details such as:

  • Class title
  • Who may stage the exhibit; for example: novice, NAFAS member, team exhibit – see class types
  • If a specific style of exhibit is required – see exhibit styles.
  • Space allowed.  Where measurements of space are given as approximate, this is solely to cover unavoidable irregularities in the staging.  If ‘Height optional’ is specified then any height from very low to very high is acceptable.
  • How the exhibits will be viewed and judged
  • What staging will be provided
  • Any other requirements or information.  For example: if a specific component and/or title should be included; whether exhibits may be brought ready-made; whether artificial plant material may be used.

Unless otherwise stated in the schedule, any style of exhibit may be included in any class.

Class Types

A class type may be generically described as ‘an exhibit’ which is assumed to be assembled by any one person.  Alternatively the schedule may specify details about who and how the exhibit is assembled, such as:

  • A Club or Group Class may be staged by more than one person.  The schedule will define the maximum number of people who may work together to stage the exhibit.  The exhibit should be cohesive and not consist of unrelated parts.
  • An Open Class is one in which entrants are accepted from outside the current organisation; for example non-NAFAS members; or members from other NAFAS Areas.
  • A Novice Class is aimed at competitors who have not achieved awards in the past.  The schedule should state which type of show the limitations apply to.
  • A Junior Class is for children or young adults. The schedule should state the age ranges of the entrants.  Junior classes often state that the exhibits can be brought ready made.
  • An Imposed Class is one in which all components are provided by the organisers.
    • Only tools nominated in the schedule may be brought into the staging area
    • Exhibitors may use all or some of the components unless otherwise stated in the schedule
    • No components other than those supplied should be incorporated
    • All exhibitors must commence at the time specified in the schedule
    • Judges should be given a list of the supplied components
  • A Semi-Imposed Class is one in which one or more items are provided by the organisers.
    • All of the supplied items must be used as specified in the schedule
    • Exhibitors are permitted to add further components
    • Judges will be given a list of the supplied components


An exhibit is an individual entry within a class.

  • An exhibit must be contained within the space specified in the show schedule.
  • Natural plant material must predominate in all exhibits – see Understand Plant Material.
  • Unless otherwise stated there may be more than one placement in an exhibit.
  • Backgrounds, bases, containers, drapes, exhibit titles and mechanics may always be included in an exhibit unless otherwise stated.

Exhibit Components

An exhibit component is any constituent part of an exhibit, which could be any of the following:

  • Accessory: anything that is not natural plant material.  For example: feathers, shells, stones, artefacts, figurines, shapes, wax candles.  NOTE: Backgrounds, bases, containers, drapes, mechanics and exhibit titles are not classed as accessories and may always be used unless prohibited by the schedule.
  • Background: any backing behind an exhibit.  Backgrounds may be provided as part of the class staging but exhibitors are not normally allowed to fix anything to a supplied background.  Competitors may use their own backgrounds unless specifically prohibited by the schedule.
  • Base: staging on which all or part of the exhibit is displayed.   Bases may be provided as part of the class staging but exhibitors are not normally allowed to fix anything to a supplied base. One or more bases may be used.  Artificial grass turf is not permitted as base.
  • Basket:  a container made of any woven material, with or without a lid or handle.  The schedule may state if a specific type of basket is required.
  • Candles: wax candles are classed as accessories.   According to NAFAS rules, wax in the shape of plant material, eg apples, flowers etc, is classed as artificial plant material unless the candle wick is visible.
  • Container: the part or parts of an exhibit, made of any substance, which is used to support the plant material.
  • Drape: fabric of any kind used in any way in an exhibit.
  • Exhibit title: a title or brief description may always be used to aid interpretation of the class title.  It may be created from any medium and will be judged as an integral part of the exhibit.  If a schedule calls for a title it should identify how the class title has been interpreted and must be included.
  • Figurine: part or whole of a figure (animal or human) which may be used as an accessory or part of a container. A group of figures may be displayed as a unit.
  • Lighting: battery operated lighting that will last for the duration of the show is permitted unless prohibited by the schedule.  Any additional electric lighting is governed by the show schedule.
  • Mechanics: the means by which plant material and other components are supported.  In traditional designs the mechanics would normally be inconspicuous.  In contemporary designs innovative mechanics are often intentionally visible.
  • Niche/Alcove: a backing with sides in which an exhibit is staged.
  • Water-retaining material: is any substance (eg earth, fruit, gel, moss, sand, vegetables and floral foam) in which the cut ends of stems of fresh plant material and roots of living plant material may be staged.  Some show schedules are now specifying that use of water-retaining foam is prohibited in some or all classes.
  • Wiring:  any type of wire used to support or enhance plant material, which should be inconspicuous unless used in a contemporary, decorative manner.

Exhibit Styles

Class specifications may state simply ‘An Exhibit’ or may define the required style of exhibit as one of the following:

Abstract exhibit:  which features one or more of the following characteristics:

    • All components are design units
    • Minimalist, representing only the essence of the design
    • Some natural growth patterns may or may not be present
    • Plant material used in a non-naturalistic way to create a greater degree of abstraction
    • Several areas of interest, with a lack of transition from one unit to another
    • Balance is often dynamic
    • Space as an integral part of the design
    • Colour may be vibrant/dramatic or subtle
    • Bold colour and form may be at the outer edges of the design
    • Textural contrast and effects of light and shade may be used

For more information about abstract exhibits please refer to NAFAS Handbooks

Christmas exhibit: where the schedule often specifies that artificial plant material is allowed

Contemporary exhibit:  NAFAS Handbook Contemporary Floral Design is a useful reference but is currently unavailable .  A contemporary exhibit may just be defined as ‘Contemporary exhibit’ or may specify a particular contemporary style such as:

    • Art in the Environment: an exhibit in which the design is created in a natural environment.  The schedule should state if any mechanics or materials are restricted.
    • Constructions/Structures: an exhibit in which a key component is a structure, of any shape or size, composed mainly of natural plant material.  The structure may be decorative in its own right and/or used as a mechanic.
    • Horizontal Layered:  an exhibit where all plant material and other components are placed on a predominantly horizontal plane, with strong emphasis on overlapping layers.
    • Palisade: an exhibit including an outer vertical casing made from natural plant material to create a fence or enclosure.
    • Pave/Tapestry: an exhibit in which plant material and other components are grouped together by type and placed close to the surface of floral foam or other mechanic.
    • Cascade/Waterfall: an exhibit where the emphasis is on the downward flow of plant material. Such designs are usually staged on a raised platform, plinth, pedestal or structure.
    • Hand-tied: an exhibit in which all materials are worked in the hand and then secured at a binding point.  In a hand-tied class it is advisable to stage in a transparent container so that all parts (stems, bindings etc) are clearly visible during judging.
    • Montage: A shallow three-dimensional design in which plant material and other components are used to create distinct individual, but visually linked layers at different elevations.  A montage design may be hung against a background or staged on tabling as stated in the schedule.
    • Parallel: an exhibit including groupings of vertically parallel lines placed in their own well-defined space.  The verticals usually rise from groundwork that forms the base of the design.  Some plant material may extend over the edge of the container to soften the overall effect.  This style of design usually includes more than one area of dominance.
    • Screen: an exhibit in which an open framework or mesh is used to support a network of plant material.

Craft exhibit: an exhibit which is long-lasting and typically includes significant components made of dried or preserved plant material.  Craft items often require time-consuming and detailed preparation with immaculate artistry, skill and craftmanship (eg, no visible glue blobs or threads) so schedules often state that they may be brought to the show ready-made.  Schedules should give details on how the exhibit is to be displayed.  Specific styles of craft exhibit include:

    • Collage, where the exhibit is on a visible background, with all components adhering to the backing and/or each other.  A collage may be assembled to create a three-dimensional effect.
    • Picture/Plaque, where all components are assembled on a backing.  Such exhibits may be framed or unframed, glazed or unglazed.
    • Pressed Flower Picture, where all components are pressed flat and assembled on a backing.  Such exhibits may be framed or unframed but must be sealed with transparent material
    • Floral Jewellery, where plant material and other components are used to create jewellery suitable for wearing.
    • Garland, where all components are assembled in an elongated and/or flexible design with no visible background.
    • Swag, an exhibit which is designed to hang against a surface, with all components assembled without a visible background

Landscape exhibit: an exhibit inspired by any urban, rural or wild landscape.  The atmosphere should be captured by appropriate choice of plant material and other components.  Scale and perspective are particularly important in naturalistic interpretations.

Miniature exhibit: a very small scale design which is a miniature version of a large exhibit, so the scale of all components is particularly important.  Usually specified as one of the following sizes:

    • 10cm in width and depth; height 15cm
    • 7cm in width and depth; height 10cm

Petite exhibit: a small scale design which is a petite version of a large exhibit, so the scale of all components is particularly important., Usually specified as one of the following sizes:

    • 25cm in width and depth; height 37cm
    • 17cm in width and depth; height 25cm

Pedestal exhibits must include a plinth(s), column(s) or vertical structure(s) as an integral part of the design, used to elevate the main placement.  Subsidiary placements are permitted but the main placement should be at a greater height.

Period exhibits must evoke the style and atmosphere of the specified past era(s).  Present day plant material and other components are acceptable provided they suggest the period portrayed.  An overlap of periods is inevitable as a period does not suddenly ends as another begins.  For more details see publications on Period Flower Arranging available via NAFAS Handbooks

Plants and Flowers exhibits must include growing plants and cut flowers.  Other plants material may be added.

Seascape exhibit: an exhibit inspired by the sea, seashore or under the sea.  The atmosphere should be captured by appropriate choice of plant material and other components.  Scale and perspective are particularly important in naturalistic interpretations.

Stamobile or Mobile exhibit: a freestanding (stamobile) or suspended (mobile) exhibit which features one or more units capable of free movement. Such exhibits should have a well-balanced, rhythmic and changing pattern which is interesting from any viewpoint.

Still Life exhibit: in flower arranging this is a traditional or contemporary exhibit featuring aesthetic groupings of plant material and inanimate objects.  Harmonious integration of all components is essential.  In still life exhibits there may be several points of interest which are visually linked and often on different planes. Space within the exhibit is essential to allow all components to be fully appreciated.  An arrangement of plant material with accessories does not constitute a still life Exhibits in the style of Dutch/Flemish paintings of flower pieces do not conform to the category.

Table exhibits are staged on individual free-standing tables. The schedule should specify details of the table unless the table is to be provided by the competitor, and should also specify if the competitors to provide their own covering.  Restrained decoration of the sides and corners of the table is permitted unless specifically forbidden by the schedule.

Traditional/Traditional Mass exhibits are those which conform to line/mass designs such as: symmetrical triangle; asymmetrical triangle; oval; crescent; inverted crescent; Hogarth curve; diagonal.  Such designs usually have a focal point and good transition of plant material.