Lynn Markham received the 2014 Bennett C. Jones Award for Outstanding Median Hybridizing this year. The award was presented at the ISM Spring Iris Show.
Lynn Markham has been breeding irises, with an emphasis on median irises and particular concentration on border bearded (BB) irises, since the 1960s. Her pertinacity for balance and proportion in BBs has been the driving force in moving the BB class forward from the old days of “small talls” and “TB runts.” She and her MIS Border Bearded standards committee devised the current version of the BB class standard in 2000 for the AIS Judges’ Handbook, and she has purposely hybridized BBs with those standards in mind.
She may well be the only hybridizer extant who has true, consistent BB breeding lines. Few iris people realize how difficult that accomplishment was to attain. Beginning with some of her cousin Marilyn Sheaff’s breeding stock, and with the inclusion of Bee Warburton irises and various I. aphylla clones back in the 1960s, she bred and selected small-proportioned plants, with consistent results beginning to appear in the early 1990s. At one point, her sales flyer was sub-titled “Border Beardeds on Purpose,” which was exactly what she has been striving for many years.
She has been very selective with a small number of introductions. They include two aphylla SPECIES; four SPEC-X (all aphylla-bred); one SDB; ten TBs; and nine (eleven registrations) BBs. Yet, she has had good success, with thirteen HMs, three AMs, a Randolph-Perry Medal for ‘Night Mood’ and a Knowlton Medal for ‘Teapot Tempest.’ Her lone SDB ‘Boo’ won one of the AMs, was first runner-up for the Cook-Douglas Medal, and has consistently placed high on the MIS Popularity Poll. (It is also still sold in garden centers around the Northeast.)
Lynn has not hybridized for awards. She has instead gone where few will tread; using her artistry and imagination but always with an eye to strength, performance and that oh-so-hard-to-achieve quality of distinctiveness. A sterling example of this distinctiveness in her work is her Randolph-Perry Medal winner, ‘Night Mood’. It does not need a label in the garden to be recognized.
Lynn has been very active over a long period of time in local, regional and national iris activities as a Master Judge, and as past editor of the Region 1 Bulletin and IRID-ISM, the newsletter of the Iris Society of Massachusetts. She has given innumerable judges’ training classes and has written many superb articles on structure, soundness and how to scrutinize every part of every iris in each class. More of today’s hybridizers would do well to study her advice. Lynn has also made herself freely available to mentor others who are interested in the art of median (or other iris) hybridizing, generously sharing her knowledge with anyone who wants to know more.
Congratulations on a well-deserved award!
Nomination forms for this award are due each year by December 31. To make nominations, click on the link below to obtain a copy of the Nomination Form (PDF).
>>> Nomination Form <<<