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The Wister Medal

Wister Medal

The highest award given by The American Iris Society to a tall-bearded Iris

History by Clarence Mahan ….................................................related links; Awards; 2015 Wister Medal Candidates.

This medal is restricted to tall bearded (TB) irises. It is named in honor of 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…."

During a visit to England in 1922, Wister encouraged his many English friends to establish the British Iris Society. His contribution to the founding of the British Iris Society was formally recognized by his election as an Honorary Member and the award of the Foster Memorial Plaque. The American Iris Society awarded John Wister the Gold Medal in 1930, stating: "All Iris growers in America recognize Mr. Wister as their leader and will certainly approve the action of the Board of Directors in conferring upon him the highest recognition in their power to bestow."

Wister Medal

John Wister was the author of four books: The Iris, Lilac Culture, Bulbs for American Gardens, and Four Seasons in Your Garden. He was the first to receive four major American horticultural awards: The Liberty Hyde Bailey Medal presented by the American Horticultural Council; the Scott Garden and Horticultural Award; the American Peony Society's A. P. Saunders Memorial Medal; and the Honor and Achievement Award of the International Lilac Society. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden presented him its Garden Medal in 1966, and that same year the Royal Horticultural Society dedicated its Daffodil and Tulip Yearbook to him, the first time an American had been so honored.

Wister was a landscape architect. He graduated from Harvard University and studied at the Harvard School of Landscape Architecture and the New Jersey Agricultural College. He served in Europe during WW I, and in his spare time visited gardens and leading horticulturists. He was secretary of the American Rose Society for many years, and was a member of some fifty horticultural societies and thirty scientific and conservation organizations. He was the first director of the Arthur Hoyt Horticultural Foundation, and designed and created the 240-acre public garden at Swarthmore College.

One of John C. Wister's endearing qualities was his modesty. He always denied that he was the founder of the American Iris Society, saying that it was the work of many people. Of himself, he said: "But I know I'm just an ordinary fellow who happened to come along at the right time." An ordinary fellow he was not. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude. John C. Wister, to a remarkable degree, created the American Iris Society's traditions.

All the other iris categories award only one medal for each year. The exception is this category, the very popular Tall Bearded (TB) iris category. There are three Wister Medals awarded each year beginning in 1998 when the number was increased. Only AIS registered judges may vote.

Article from the October 1993 Bulletin, pages 46-47, "Presenting the Wister Medal Design and its Designer".

Wister Medal History

List of Wister Medal winners - Tall Bearded (TB) Irises:
2023 - ‘Black Lipstick’
Keith Keppel
2023 - ‘Royston Rubies’
Adam Cordes
2023 - ‘Chihuahuan Desert’
Howard Dash
2022 - 'Good Morning Sunshine'
Thomas Johnson
2022 = 'Tijuana Taxi'
Douglas Kanarowski
2022 - 'Coal Seams'
2021 - 'Football Hero'
Lynda Miller
2021 - 'Don't Doubt Dalton'
Tom Burseen
2021 - 'Belle Fille'
Marky Smith
2021 - 'Volcanic Glow'
Keith Keppel
2021 - 'Bluebird Of Happiness'
Paul Black
2021 - 'Don't Stop Believing'
Thomas Johnson
'Autumn Explosion'
2019 - Richard Tasco
'Daring Deception'
2019 - Thomas Johnson
2019 - Thomas Johnson
'Notta Lemon'
2018 - Tom Burseen
'Bottle Rocket'
2018 - Michael Sutton
'Strawberry Shake'
2018 - Keith Keppel
'Reckless Abandon'
2017 - Keith Keppel
'Beauty Becomes Her'
2017 - Paul Black
'Black Is Black'
2017 - Schreiner
'Sharp Dressed Man'
2016 - Thomas Johnson
'Haunted Heart'
2016 - Keith Keppel
'Tuscan Summer'
2016 - Keith Keppel
'Money In Your Pocket'
2015 - Paul Black
2015 - Thomas Johnson
'Temporal Anomaly'
2015 - Richard Tasco
'Black Magic Woman'
2014 - Richard Tasco
2014 - Joseph Ghio
2014 - Keith Keppel
'Absolute Treasure'
2013 - Richard Tasco
Absolute Treasure
'Elizabethan Age'
2013 - Lowell Baumunk
Elizabethan Age
'Ink Patterns'
2013 - Thomas Johnson
Ink Patterns
'Gypsy Lord'
2012 - Keith Keppel
Gypsy Lord
'Kathy Chilton'
2012 - Frederick Kerr
Kathy Chilton
'Chief John Jolly'
2012 - Tom Parkhill
Chief John Jolly
'Florentine Silk'
2011 - Keith Keppel
Florentine Silk
'That's All Folks'
2011 - W. Maryott By J. Ghio
That's All Folks
'Tour De France'
2011 - Keith Keppel
Tour De France
'Crackling Caldera'
2010 - T. Aitken
Crackling Caldera
2010 - B. Blyth
'Wintry Sky'
2010 - K. Keppel
Wintry Sky
'Drama Queen'
2009 - K. Keppel
'Italian Ice'
2009 - A. & D. Cadd
'Paul Black'
2009 - T. Johnson
'Slovak Prince'
2009 - A. Mego
'Heartstring Strummer'
2008 - B. Johnson
'Hollywood Nights'
2008 - R. Duncan
'Millennium Falcon'
2008 - B. Kasperek
'Daughter Of Stars'
2007 - D. Spoon
'Ring Around Rosie'
2007 - R. Ernst
2007 - J. Ghio
'Golden Panther'
2006 - R. Tasco
2006 - K. Keppel
'Queen's Circle'
2006 - F. Kerr
2005 - K. Keppel
'Sea Power'
2005 - K. Keppel
'Uncle Charlie'
2005 - D. Spoon
'Poem Of Ecstasy'
2004 - B. Hager
2004 - R. Tasco
'World Premier'
2004 - Schreiner
'Crowned Heads'
2003 - K. Keppel
2003 - Schreiner
'Tom Johnson'
2003 - P. Black
'Gypsy Romance'
2002 - Schreiner
'Jurassic Park'
2002 - L. Lauer
'Local Color'
2002 - K. Keppel
'Fancy Woman'
2001 - K. Keppel
'Pond Lily'
2001 - E. Jones
'Spirit World'
2001 - K. Keppel
'Celebration Song'
2000 - Schreiner's
2000 - L. Zurbrigg
2000 - M. Byers
'Boogie Woogie'
1999 - H. Nichols
'Rhonda Fleming'
1999 - R. Mullin
'Stairway To Heaven'
1999 - L. Lauer
1998 - M. Byers
'Hello Darkness'
1998 - Schreiners
'Yaquina Blue'
1998 - Schreiners
1997 - T. Magee
1996 - M. Byers
'Before The Storm'
1995 - S. Innerst
'Honky Tonk Blues'
1994 - Schreiners
1993 - Schreiners


-- Main.RPries - 2009-12-24
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
1993_10_AIS 1993 Presenting Wister Medal.pdfpdf 1993_10_AIS 1993 Presenting Wister Medal.pdf manage 739 K 02 May 2023 - 11:40 UnknownUser Article, Presenting Wister Medal
John_C_WisterAIS_Bulletin250July1983pg70_copy.jpg_editjpg_edit John_C_WisterAIS_Bulletin250July1983pg70_copy.jpg_edit manage 25 K 26 Aug 2010 - 17:43 UnknownUser AIS slide
Wister Medal History.pdfpdf Wister Medal History.pdf manage 1 MB 10 Jun 2023 - 15:14 UnknownUser Wister Medal History
Wister-Medal-TB-SM_edited_edited-1.jpgjpg Wister-Medal-TB-SM_edited_edited-1.jpg manage 60 K 26 Aug 2010 - 17:36 UnknownUser AIS slides
Wister-Randolph-atPresbyGarden_edit_edited-1.jpgjpg Wister-Randolph-atPresbyGarden_edit_edited-1.jpg manage 49 K 26 Aug 2010 - 17:55 UnknownUser AIS slides
Topic revision: r70 - 21 Sep 2023, WayneMesser
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