American Iris Society announces results of 2015 Official AIS Ballots


The Mary Swords DeBaillon Medal

     Seminole Sunrise by Harry Wolford - 30 votes out of 133 cast


     Renee Fleming by Heather Pryor - 27 votes

     Rochester Lilacs by Heather Pryor - 19 votes

     Rilla Hickerson by Farron Campbell registered by M&J Wilhoit - 18 votes

     Zydeco by Patrick O'Connor - 16 votes

     Frederick Douglas by Dorman Haymon - 14 votes

Award of Merit

     Our Friend Dick by Ron Killingsworth - 41 votes of 276 cast

     Dark Dude by Ron Betzer - 25

     Lemon Zest by Kevin Vaughn - 23

     Michagan Belle by Jill Copeland - 23


     Seminole Autumn by Harry Wolford - 21

     Blue Splatter by Wayland Rudkin - 14

     Sarah Faith by MD Faith - 14

     Acadian Debutante by Hooker Nichols - 13

     Sugarplum Treat by Heather Pryor - 13

Honorable Mention

     Seminole Moon by Harry Wolford - 20 votes of 282 cast

     Gulf Coast Beaches by Hooker Nichols - 14

     Start of Something Big by Harry Wolford - 14

     Earline Sudduth by Harry Wolford - 13

     Kakadu Sunset by Heather Pryor - 12

     David's Symphony by Joe Mussacchia - 11

     Green Eyed Cajun by Joe Mussacchia - 11

     Nancy Tichborne by Bernard Pryor - 11


     Lucky Dog by Pat O'Connor - 10

     Dick's Legacy by MD Faith - 8

     Pontchartrain Beach by Pat O'Connor - 8

     Aunt Rose by Joe Musacchia - 7

     Holly Joy Carol by Harry Wolford - 7

     Bayou Buckskin by Jim Hedgecock - 6

     Louis Armstrong by Pat O'Connor - 6

     Mister Sandman by Harry Wolford - 6

     Paramount Star by Bernard Pryor - 6

     Secret Rendezvous by Heather Pryor - 6


Rebecca Wong Ser Award PicRebecca Wong, longtime life member of SLI and SLI’s webmaster for many years, was presented the much deserved Society for Louisiana Irises' Service Award, by President Jim Leonard, at the awards banquet during the SLI Convention in Lafayette, LA, on April 11, 2015.

The Charles W. Arny, Jr. award recognizes promising Louisiana irises and rewards the hybridizers of those cultivars for their work. Although many members continue to vote for the older cultivars, the intended purpose of the award is to encourage hybridizers and recognize outstanding recent introductions. The award was established in 1993 in honor of his pioneering work done with Louisiana irises and his promotion and world-wide distribution of the flower. The winner of this award shall be selected by the annual SLI Popularity Poll which is composed of registered and introduced Louisiana irises that have met the following  criteria established by the Board of Directors:

Awards of the American Iris Society Awards (AIS) for seedling, Registered and Introduced Iris

Each year the judges of the AIS vote the offical ballot and awards are made to many different classifications of irises.  Other awards are given for irises winning the most most in the gardens on the tours of the annual AIS convention.  This article gives a brief summary of each of the awards given by the AIS.

Debaillon Award and Debaillon Medal Detailed Results (runnerups in the voting are also included)

The DeBaillon Medal is awarded each year to the Louisiana iris receiving the most votes from the American Iris Society (AIS) judges and is awarded by AIS at the annual convention. To become eligible for this award, an iris must have received the Award of Merit (AM) in its class.  Eligibility begins the second year after the variety has received the AM and continues for a period of three years. This article shows MSDM winners from 2014 to 1948 and shows the number of judges' votes received as well as the "runnersups" for each year they were recorded.

Marie Caillet and Rita Hickerson


Since 1948, the DeBaillon Medal, given by the American Iris Society, has been the most prestigious honor a Louisiana Iris hybridizer can receive.  The Author traces the award's history, triumphs, and controversies.

Marie Caillet spent a lifetime promoting the Louisiana Iris, first while a resident of Lafayette, LA, where she taught at the local university, and after her retirement at her family home on Lake Lewis north of Dallas, TX.  She served the Society for Louisiana Irises in many capacities, including editing the journal for decades.  She was 92 when she died on May 20th, 2010.


Each year the American Iris Society (AIS) judges to award the Award of Merit (AM) to a group of irises.  Eligibility for the AM beings the second year after the iris variety has recieved the Honorable Mention Award (HM), and eligibility continues for three years.

The AM is one of the AIS's most coveted awards and is given each year to a limited number of iris varieties in each of the classifications of iris.*

SOCIETY FOR LOUISIANA IRISES -- Mary Swords DeBaillion Awards --- 1948 to present

The highest award an Louisiana iris 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 and in 2012 became a section of AIS. After 1986 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 and is awarded to the eligible Louisiana iris receiving the most votes on the official AIS judges ballot conducted each year. All AIS medalists, including the DeBaillon medalist, are eligible for the Dykes Medal, the highest award presented by AIS. So far, the AIS Dykes has been awarded mainly to Tall Bearded irises and no Louisiana iris has ever won the Dykes award.

I have seen Louisiana irises come and go for more than 50 years. I have seen not-so-good ones make it to the top and then disappear from gardens. But worse than that are the really excellent varieties that have never received awards nor become generally known. What makes the difference and what can a hybridizer do to elevate these good ones from the ordinary to the winner's circle? Nothing I am going to suggest will be news to you and some solutions will not be possible, but perhaps one or two will give you an idea. Each are things I have observed and some are things I know have worked for some Louisiana iris winners in the past.