Congratulations to Marvin Granger of Lake Charles, Louisiana, who was selected at the fall board meeting of the American Iris Society to receive the Distinguished Hybridizer Medal at their annual convention in Memphis, Tennessee, this April. This is quite an honor and especially so for a hybridizer of one of the 'other irises' like Louisianas.
In round numbers, there are about a thousand American Iris Society members who register one or more of their seedlings each year, which means that many hybridizers are in competition for the award.
Marvin was one of the Lake Charles iris growers who began collecting I.giganticaerulea in the Cameron Parish marshes during the early days of the Society. Many of his introductions go back to irises collected by him or other Lake Charles growers.
After joining the Society and acquiring other species, Marvin began working with other than the blues and whites, but he continued to hunt for select specimens of I.giganticaerulea. In so doing, he found a semi-double which he registered as 'Creole Can-Can' in 1956. It is described as having six falls and no standards and with petaloids giving a double effect. This chance discovery led to a whole new line of hybridizing. Some of his more popular doubles and cartwheels from this line of hybridizing are 'Delta Star', 'Starlite Starbrite', 'Rose Cartwheel and 'Doubletalk:'.
Marvin has registered and introduced around 50 Louisiana irises and is continuing to bring new ones to the market. He says he has several really good ones, but doesn't have a sufficient supply yet to put them out for sale. Like many of us, age and health have cut down our gardening and the size of our gardens. Some of the Granger introductions that stand out despite age are 'May Roy', a very late blooming rose pink; 'Delta Prince', a velvety purple with white stylearms; 'Kay Nelson', a ruffled lavender-pink that won the DeBaillon in 1995; and 'Deirdre Kay', lavender and pink with a cream ray pattern from yellow green signals.
Hybridizers who won this award for their work with Louisiana irises during the past 50 years are Charles W. Amy in 1967, Joseph K. Mertzweiller in 1984, Mary Dunn in 1992 and John Taylor of Australia in 2000. The procedure for this award is similar to that for the AIS Distinguished Service Medal and for the SLI Distinguished Merit Award. Recommendations are sent to an Honorary Awards Committee (10 members for the AIS Committee), who vote on those names presented. The Committee's recommendations are then presented to the AIS Board at their fall meeting for final voting.
It is a rare and certainly a distinguished honor given a hybridizer. Our Society should feel honored to have one of their long time members selected to receive this award for 2001.
Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the SLI Newsletter in the Spring 2002 edition.