Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013 Mary Swords Debaillon Medal Winner "James Faith"

By Renee Fraser

The 2013 winner of the award for best Louisiana Iris is "James Faith."

This medal is restricted to Louisiana (LA) irises. It is named in honor of Mary Swords DeBaillon (1888-1940).

Clarence Mahan writes that "Mary DeBaillon amassed the largest collection of Louisiana irises in the world. She was tireless in promoting these irises as good garden plants and in encouraging any who would listen to grow them. She gained considerable fame as a naturalist and native plant collector. She encouraged collection of the indigenous iris species to save them as civilization encroached on the swamps and bayous. A year after her death the iris enthusiasts in Lafayette organized an iris society and named it the Mary Swords DeBaillon Iris Society. This society became the Louisiana Iris Society in 1948."

The highest award an LA could receive from 1948 until 1985 was the Mary Swords DeBaillon Award. During that period, SLI was an independent unit with no affiliation whatsoever with the American Iris Society (AIS). SLI became a Cooperating Organization of AIS in 1986. After that date the AWARD was discontinued and replaced with the Mary Swords DeBallion MEDAL, the highest award exclusively for Louisiana Iris. The MEDAL is a part of the AIS award system. All AIS medalists, including the the Debaillon medalist, are eligible for the Dykes Medal, the highest award presented by AIS.

"James Faith" Photo credit M.D. Faith

Here is the description from the AIS wiki:  'James Faith' (M.D.Faith, R. 2000). Sdlg. S54A. LA, 42" (107 cm), M. S. blue purple, lightly ruffled; style arms blue, reddish cast; F. darker blue purple, large golden yellow signal edged creamy white. 'Bayou Dawn' X unknown. Faith 2002.Debaillon Medal 2013.
M.D. Faith says that "this iris is vigorous in growth and very rewarding in the garden."
"James Faith" clump Photo credit M.D. Faith

To learn more about Louisiana Irises, please visit the Society for Louisiana Irises website.

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