See Show Calender


Sydney B. Mitchell Medal

Founders Of SIGNA Medal

The highest award given by the American Iris Society strictly to Pacific Coast Natives

History by Clarence Mahan ….............................................related links; Awards; 2015 Sydney B. Mitchell Medal Candidates.

This medal is restricted to Pacific Coast Native (PCN) irises. It is named in honor of Sydney B. Mitchell (1878-1951).


Sydney Mitchell loved plants and gardening even as a small child. When he attended McGill University, he made friends with the university gardener who gave him irises. Mitchell's brother allowed him to grow the irises in his backyard and he soon had a very large collection. His wife shared his interest in plants, and when he moved to California, where he worked at the Stanford University Library, they began their lifelong collaboration in the garden. In 1911, Mitchell moved to Berkeley to head the purchasing department of the University of California library, and the Mitchell's took their iris collection with them.

Prof. Sydney Mitchell was an educator. He became Acting Librarian at the University of California during WW I, and later founded and became first director of the Graduate School of Librarianship at that university. He was also one of the organizers of the American Iris Society, president and editor of the California Horticultural Society, a founding member of the American Fuchsia Society, and a prodigious author on gardening subjects for gardening and horticultural magazines and journals. He wrote four books: Gardening in California, From a Sunset Garden, Your California Garden and Mine, and Iris for Every Garden.

Tom Craig wrote this of him: "Sydney looked upon plant breeding as a long term international effort in which individuals from all over the world should co-operate and add generation after generation to a real human achievement. He made me feel a real part of this and more particularly a part of a special work started by William Mohr and carried on by himself. Sydney generously gave flowers and plants of seedling for further encouragement with this work."

Sydney Mitchell's collaboration with William Mohr, - and his continuation of Mohr's breeding lines is now one of the legends of the AIS. Mitchell also bred outstanding irises of his own, and was especially interested in obtaining large flowered yellow tall bearded irises. Some of his finest cultivars are 'Alta California', 'Happy Days', 'Naranja', 'Natividad', and 'Fair Elaine'.

Mitchell was also interested in the native irises of the West Coast, and promoted them at every opportunity. He took great pride in the plantings of PCNs in his own garden. He had a large collection of various forms of I . innominata and I. douglasiana .

List of Sydney B. Mitchell Medal winners - Pacific Coast Native (PCN) Irises:
    ‘Red Delicious’
2023 - Deborah A. Cole
'Going Bananas'
2022 - Joseph Ghio
‘Line Drawing’
2021 - Joseph Ghio
‘Corralitos Creek’
2021 - Joseph Ghio
'Da Vinci Code'
2019 - Joseph Ghio
'Pacific Tapestry'
2018 - J. Terry Aitken
'Foggy Days'
2017 - Joseph Ghio
'Periwinkle Persian'
2016 - Deborah Cole
'Bay Street'
2015 - Joseph Ghio
'Rodeo Gulch'
2014 - Joseph Ghio
Rodeo Gulch
'Hidden Asset'
Tie 2013 - Duane Meek
Hidden Asset
'Lines That Rhyme'
Tie 2013 - Joseph Ghio
Lines That Rhyme
'Ocean Blue'
Tie 2012 - Joseph Ghio
Ocean Blue
'Blue Plate Special'
Tie 2012 - Joseph Ghio
Blue Plate Special
'Bar Code'
Tie 2011 - Joseph Ghio
Bar Code
Star Of Wonder'
Tie 2011 - Joseph Ghio
Star Of Wonder
'Wild Survivor'
2010 - Will Plotner
'Mendocino Blue'
2009 - Robert & Janet Canning
Mendocino Blue
'Wine And Cheese'
2008 - Vernon Wood
Wine And Cheese
'Pacific Miss'
2007 - Lois Belardi
Pacific Miss
2006 - Joseph Ghio
'Sierra Azul'
2005 - Joseph Ghio
Sierra Azul
'Raspberry Dazzler'
2004 - Vernon Wood
Raspberry Dazzler
'Sea Admiral'
2003 - Vernon Wood
Sea Admiral
'Sea Gal'
2002 - Lois Belardi
Sea Gal
'Jean Erickson'
2001 - Colin Rigby
Jean Erickson
'Pink Cupid'
2000 - Vernon Wood
Pink Cupid
'Chief Sequoia'
1999 - John Weiler
Chief Sequoia
'Pacific Rim'
1998 - Bennett Jones
Pacific Rim
'Night Editor'
1997 - Joseph Ghio
Night Editor
1996 - Joseph Ghio
'Sierra Dell'
1995 - Lewis Lawyer
Sierra Dell
'Simply Wild'
1994 - Joseph Ghio
Simply Wild
'Drive You Wild'
1994 tied - Joseph Ghio
1993 - Vernon Wood

List of Sydney B. Mitchell Award winners - Pacific Coast Native (PCN) Irises:
(Prior to 1993) Mitchell awards were considered equal to Awards of Merit (the Mitchell Medal was added as a higher award in 1993).
1992 - 'Mimsey' - V. Wood 1991 - 'Drive You Wild' - J. Ghio 1990 - 'Big Money' - J. Ghio
1989 - 'California Mystique' - J. Ghio 1988 - No Award (Tie vote) 1987 - 'Simply Wild' - J. Ghio
1986 - 'Big Wheel' - J. Ghio 1985 - No Award 1984 - 'City Hall' - J. Ghio
1983 - 'Santa Rita' - J. Ghio 1982 - 'Councilman' - J. Ghio 1981 - 'Restless Native' - J. Ghio
1980 - 'Soquel Cove' - J. Ghio 1979 - 'Los Gatos' - J. Ghio 1978 - 'Canyon Snow' - Philbrick
1977 - 'Sierra Sapphire' - Dr. L. Lenz 1976 - 'Western Queen' - Stambach 1975 - 'Native Warrior' - Phillips
1974 - 'Amiguita' - E. Nies 1973 - 'Ojai' - Walker  


-- Main.RPries - 2009-12-24
Topic revision: r40 - 20 Aug 2023, WayneMesser
This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding Iris Wiki? Send feedback