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Garden style aquascape? Judging criteria

Art

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  • Oct 29, 2022
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    Miami, FL
    It was suggested in the Dutch Style aquascaping thread, that the Dutch-inspired or garden style aquascape is sufficiently different that it does deserve its own category in aquascaping contests. It doesn't really fit into any other contests that are out there, as far as I'm aware.

    It was also suggested that maybe we, the ScapeCrunch family, should consider doing an annual contest to promote this style of aquascaping that is gaining popularity very fast!. In my opinion, it is really the only one that can compete with the colors of reef aquariums.
    Artboard 1.jpg

    Our mission is to make ScapeCrunch valuable and entertaining for you. If we collectively like the idea of an annual contest to promote the beauty and popularity of this style, I'm happy to support it.

    But, before going there, as was mentioned in the other thread, you need judging criteria. Please see the judging criteria for the IAPLC contest. While we certainly don't need to get so formal about it, after all this is just for fun. What criteria would you say would work to compare the entries?
     
    Interesting...
    In looking thru the IAPLC Judging Criteria - some judging thoughts;
    Submissions divided into say 4 tank sizes.
    4 points for each distinct color (obviously larger tanks can have more possible colors)
    3 points for each distinct leaf shape (think black and white version of tank)
    1-10 points for Originality and impression of layout work
    1-10 points for Overall composition and planting balance
    1-10 points for Overall plant health

    Trying to keep some of the "personal opinion", but give more weight to what this style is all about,
     
    A: It needs to be made abundantly clear that you can only enter said tank into any number of these competitions. Entering into multiple contests violates their rules. If you entered here are you breaking them?
    B: Possibly also add that this is just for fun contest. Or else you'll be getting all these Moss creations entered. Along these lines maybe only for stems and colorful plants?
    C: I know its in its infancy and not by any means an official contest but having some of the great plant growers of this hobby as judges would be awesome.
    D: It takes tremendous amounts of time and effort to set up a contest, judge, organize etc. Would have to create a committee (delegate tasks).
    E: It would be great if you could get say Tropica or AquaFloria to sponsor it.
     
    A: It needs to be made abundantly clear that you can only enter said tank into any number of these competitions. Entering into multiple contests violates their rules. If you entered here are you breaking them?
    I think it depends on each contest. In my opinion, most garden style aquascapes are not getting entered into this contests so I don't know if it's an issue.

    B: Possibly also add that this is just for fun contest. Or else you'll be getting all these Moss creations entered. Along these lines maybe only for stems and colorful plants?
    I agree. If we do it, it should be limited and scope and tied to the objective of getting more attention to this style of aquascaping.

    D: It takes tremendous amounts of time and effort to set up a contest, judge, organize etc. Would have to create a committee (delegate tasks).
    Agreed. Back in the day, I created an aquascaping contest at APC. It was a LOT of work and needed custom coding. It was fun but it was also work.

    E: It would be great if you could get say Tropica or AquaFloria to sponsor it.
    I like to think that they, and others, would be happy to chip in for this type of cause.
     
    Trying to keep some of the "personal opinion", but give more weight to what this style is all about,
    So I think this raises a good point.

    Has a standard developed in this style that would allow judging against? What would you say a good garden-style aquascape has?

    Here is Paulina's as an excellent example in my opinion. The question is, what makes it great?
    d1510c7730644a36a742797b7a83af74.jpeg
     
    Distinctness of plant groupings
    Multitude of colors - not just variations of green leaf types
    Strong focal point(s)
    Unlike true Dutch (limited use of red plants), the above makes very good use of red and other colors - along with some green.
    Volume of tank is filled with plants - minimal exposed substrate (imagine if the substrate were white - would you really notice)

    Again beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I find the above more pleasing to look at than say a diorama scape.
    Granted, there are some very amazing diorama scapes - I just like the above better.
     
    So I think this raises a good point.

    Has a standard developed in this style that would allow judging against? What would you say a good garden-style aquascape has?

    Here is Paulina's as an excellent example in my opinion. The question is, what makes it great?
    View attachment 861
    What makes it so great? I go by how long I want to stare at it........and this one takes a long time to truly absorb.
     
    Welp, here's another reason why this garden-style contest may be needed. @Cheattha Sae-Teaw's beautiful tank ends up with a very low ranking?!?
    So, if I am reading the above correctly, his rank was 9,999??? So, mine would be something like 1,000,000?
    That is seriously a nice tank and one that, as Gregg stated, "takes a long time to truly absorb".

    Ok, sorry ahead of time, but the contest he entered is called "What The F**k Actually Counts"?
     
    Everyone basically stole my talking points, but I would just like to say, having a category like this with an actual name "Garden Style" is just nice to see, instead of having to explain "Dutch-inspired" or fruit stand etc.

    Plant health, cleanliness of groupings, leaf shape(s), colour, overall appearance / how it all blends together into a scape are what I look for in tanks of this style.
     
    I actually really am a fan of the term “Garden Style” for tanks that are Dutch inspired but obviously don’t come super close to satisfying all the NBAT rules, so if that was Cheattha who came up with it or whoever it was, kudos.

    I think plant health should be heavily weighted. Difficulty of plants should be factored in too. I mean one of the reasons Paulina’s tank definitely stands out to me that she has Ammania Pedicellata Golden and Ludwigia White growing pretty much flawlessly.
     
    I mean one of the reasons Paulina’s tank definitely stands out to me that she has Ammania Pedicellata Golden and Ludwigia White growing pretty much flawlessly.
    Good eye. That is one of the things that makes her tanks so interesting. I think most people react to the artistic presentation of the tank, but folks in the know who look really close realize she is a phenomenal plant grower.

    I know Vin had chatted with her a couple of times years ago, but then she just kind of disappeared. Too bad I would love to pick her brain and learn more about her methods.
     
    Last edited:
    So, I chatted with Marian Sterian who is a master grower, owner of Masterline, and a proponent of garden-style aquascaping. He is of the opinion that we can develop a set of criteria that could be used to properly judge garden-style aquascapes with plant health and overall impression being the most important, in his opinion.

    Here's one of his tanks:
    20643574_1106081249535549_1607189246902699096_o.jpg

    What's more, he said that if we do decide to do it, he would be one of the judges for the contest. (y) awesome!

    He said if we come up with criteria we think should work, he would be glad to review and give his opinion.
     
    To continue driving this forward, here is what I think we have currently as judging criteria:
    • Submissions divided into say 4 tank sizes - what should they be?
    • 4 points for each distinct color (obviously larger tanks can have more possible colors)
    • 3 points for each distinct leaf shape (think black and white version of tank)
    • 1-10 points for Originality and impression of layout work
    • 1-10 points for Overall composition and planting balance
    • 1-10 points for Overall plant health
    What do you all think? How can we improve the above from a judging garden-style perspective?
     
    Considering Marian's comment "plant health and overall impression being the most important, in his opinion", the above suggested judging criteria likely would need some modification.

    A quick look at Paulina's tank would give roughly 27-30 distinct plant groups. 4 points per distinct color would result in maybe an excessive amount of points compared to the maximum 30 points for a particular judges opinion. Maybe change the 4 to 1 or 2. And obviously reduce the 3 points per leaf group to 1 point.

    You would almost have to take a handful of decent layouts and grade them to see what makes the most sense.
     
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