Friday, August 23, 2013

Wister Winners: Three Beauties Top the Tall Beardeds in 2013

by Evey Blalock

Please join us in congratulating the winners of the 2013 John C. Wister Memorial Medal: 'Absolute Treasure' (Tasco 2006), ‘Elizabethan Age’ (Baumunk 2005) and ‘Ink Patterns’ (T. Johnson 2007).

The John C. Wister Memorial Medal is the highest award given by The American Iris Society to irises in the tall bearded (TB) class. This medal was first awarded in 1993, recognizing one tall bearded iris annually. Beginning in 1998, the selection process was changed to recognize three tall bearded irises each year. On the AIS website, Clarence Mahan provides this information regarding the medal's namesake, John C. Wister (1887-1982): "John C. Wister led the organizing meeting that created the American Iris Society and became its first president, a position he held for fourteen years. He guided the society through its formative years. He was widely recognized as a man of rare management skill, leadership ability, and the highest ethical standards. R. S. Sturtevant wrote of him: 'Probably few current members realize that the AIS started through the efforts and initiative of one man, John C. Wister....' "  (Photo of award courtesy of Rick Tasco.)

Let’s take a closer look at this year’s winners!

‘Absolute Treasure’ is registered with the following descriptive information: 42" (107 cm), mid bloom season. Sky blue self, style arms slightly lighter toward back, falls slightly lighter centers; beards white, tipped golden yellow in middle and throat, frosty white at end; heavily ruffled; slight sweet fragrance. 'Sudden Impact' X 'Color Me Blue'. Superstition 2006. Honorable Mention 2008, Award of Merit 2010; Wister Medal 2013.

Rick Tasco, hybridizer and co-owner of Superstition Iris Gardens, shared the following comments about his lovely iris: “I'm very proud of ‘Absolute Treasure’ since it is the culmination of over a dozen years work, tracing itself all the way back to my very first introduction, ‘Ruffled Goddess’. One of its parents is ‘Sudden Impact’, which is a product of ‘Ruffled Goddess’, thus the lineage. When ‘Absolute Treasure’ was in our seedling patch, before introduction and before it was even named, several well-known AIS Judges, whom we respect very much, promised us great things for this sky blue iris.”

Rick Tasco surrounded by his aptly named 'Absolute Treasure'
(Both photos of 'Absolute Treasure' courtesy of Superstition Iris Gardens.)

‘Elizabethan Age’ is registered with the following descriptive information: 33" (84 cm), early to mid bloom season. S. apricot, washed with translucent purple infusion except at edges; style arms apricot with slight purple highlighting; F. white with apricot rim and hafts, heavily overlaid dark purple in luminata pattern, apricot and white veining showing through white area around beards; beards tangerine, more intense in throat. 678A: (Cheating Heart x PDFF-1: (Prize Drawing x Flights of Fancy)) X County of Kent. Iris Colorado 2005. Honorable Mention 2007, Award of Merit 2009.

Lowell Baumunk, hybridizer, is also a talented photographer. Below is a photographic work by Lowell that combines his iris and the inspiration for its name.

When asked to comment about this beautiful iris, Lowell responded with the following: "When ‘Elizabethan Age’ and its siblings first bloomed, in 2001, I was pleased with their look and their diversity as well as their strong growth habits. There was a range of luminatas (like 'Elizabethan Age'), lumi-plics, glaciatas and plicatas, all with pink or apricot in the ground color. I right away wondered whether 'Elizabethan Age' might have been my prettiest TB to date. The intensity and complexity of the colors and pattern somehow seemed to reflect the same aspects in the work of Shakespeare and the other Elizabethans. And one of its parents, ‘County of Kent’, also has an English-themed name."  

Lowell Baumunk now offers his iris introductions through Stout Gardens. You can see more of his photographs in his online gallery.

Award-winning photograph 'Self Portrait' by Lowell Baumunk

'Ink Patterns' is registered with the following descriptive information: 36" (91 cm), mid to late bloom season. S. and F. white, strong blue-violet stitched edge; style arms dark blue-violet, ruffled; beards white tipped violet blue; slight fragrance. 'American Classic' X 'Royal Estate'. Mid-America 2007. Honorable Mention 2009; Award of Merit 2011; Wister Medal 2013.

A stand of 'Ink Patterns' growing with 'Sharp Dressed Man' and closeup  .
(Photos courtesy of Thomas Johnson, Mid-America Garden)

Thomas Johnson, hybridizer, wrote this about his creation on the Iris Encyclopedia website: “Exuberantly ruffled white flowers have indelible inky blue stitched plicata bands around falls. Standards have wide washed and stitched plicata bands with dotting inside them and lines up midribs. Styles are wonderfully contrasted, inky, dark indigo. A clump of 'Ink Patterns' in the garden is unforgettable. It is sure to catch the judge's eye at shows.” You can see more of Thomas' creations, and perhaps meet one of his friendly and furry garden greeters, at Mid-America Garden.
A complete list of this year's AIS award winners can be found on the Iris Encyclopedia website.


  1. Wonderful article, Evey. I especially enjoyed the background information on each of the winners and their hybridizations. Thanks!

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Susanne. And, thank YOU for the feedback! :-)


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