Winners of Ackerman Contest Announced

Winners for the 2019 Ackerman Contest are:

For the Elementary Division (ages 9 and Under): Eli Obrecht
For the Junior Division (ages 10-12): Madeline Obrecht
For the Senior Division (ages 13 and Over): Embry Rickman

Topic Was: "If you could plant an iris garden anywhere in the world, where would it be, which irises would you choose to plant, and what would you like visitors to your garden to learn?"

Eli Obrecht's submission was:  "My Great Grandfather's Iris In Mountain Breezes"

Imagine you having this beautiful garden in this stunning state, on a picturesque day. The sky is blue, no clouds in sight, then all of a sudden the sky turns gray and it rains for a short amount of time. Where does this happen? Colorado of course. Sun, rain, and fresh mountain air is what irises need to grow and survive.
Colorado would be a great place to have an iris garden because of the climate change, space for them to spread, and bloom. Also, seeing gardens of irises alongside the mountain views would be a sight to see. You would be stunned by the various colors irises show. People would love to wake up and smell the mountain air and the delicate smell of the iris.
When I visit the Magdeline Pfister garden at UNL East Campus in Lincoln, NE, I wonder where these irises came from. Who donated them? Where did they get them? Did they find them? These are all questions you take into consideration when wanting your own garden someday. Not everyone has the privilege of knowing someone with an iris garden, so it might not be as easy to get started. However, I am one of the lucky ones because my Great Grandfather has one of the most abundant iris gardens in Lincoln, Ne.
The iris gardens I have seen, my Great-Grandfather’s in particular, holds irises from all over the U.S. Some of which he hybridized himself. These special irises hold a very special place in my heart too as I’ve seen them bloom and produce their unique colors and shapes. One of these hybridized irises is special to me in particular because it is named after me, the ‘Eli’.
Tall Bearded, hybridized irises can grow to be really tall, yet spread in big clumps. They are all very different, in colors, shapes, and sizes. My garden would contain tall bearded irises that have been passed down from my Great-Grandfather, and ones that I have found to be special to me.
‘Elderberry Wine’, ‘Madeline Ruth’, ‘Lena Grace’, and ‘Eli’ would be my first pick rhizomes to put into the ground. These of course are ones my Great-Grandfather hybridized and named after myself and my two sisters. The rich color of ‘Elderberry Wine’ and the softness of the other three would not only complement each other, but hold a special place in my heart. From here I would add other irises that have a lot of scenic colors.
If it’s Colorado, Nebraska, or California, each garden needs the sun, rain, and a lot of area to grow. This area is needed especially for Tall Bearded irises so the clumps can spread and bloom. There are many to choose of course, but I suggest picking the rhizomes that you know something about. Whether it being passed down from a family member, or a special hybridized iris, or if you are like me, it could be one named after you!
So, look for those sunny spots, next time you visit Colorado. You just might see some irises blowing in the mountain breezes.

Madeline Obrecht's submission was:  "Nebraska Stop And Smell the Iris"

There are many different iris gardens around the world all of which are very beautiful and meaningful. When I visit the Magdalen Pfister Iris Garden on the UNL East campus in Lincoln, NE, and my great grandfather’s iris garden, I see beautiful iris’s full of color, love, and elegance.
If I could make my own iris garden, there would be various iris’s there that would not only educate children but let them have an enjoyable time too. If there was a school or campus in Nebraska that wants a garden but does not have one that’s where I would want my garden to be.
I would want my garden to be in Nebraska because it can be hot and cold here. You can get lots of sun and rain during iris blooming months. With the rain and warm sun, irises thrive in Nebraska. Even though the weather in Nebraska can be unpredictable, irises always find a way to present their splendor to the communities. I see it first hand in my Great Grandfather’s garden every year.
You should put in a lot of thought to which iris rhizomes you plant when putting together your iris garden. Would you want them in only one color or a variety of colors? Do you want them from people you know or from a selection of different people?
For my flowers, I would have ‘Madeline Ruth’, ‘Eli’, ‘Lena Grace’, ‘Elderberry Wine’, and ‘Broadband’. They are very beautiful and the first four are ones that my Great-Grandfather hybridized. ‘Madeline Ruth’ has been replanted in various gardens; Magdalen Pfister Iris Garden, my own garden and other family members as well. ‘Elderberry Wine’ was also a hybridized iris from my Great Grandfather and has been re-planted in many different gardens. Its stunning dark color stands out among the softness of other irises. You can’t miss it!
‘Broadband’ is an iris that carries all of the characteristics a lovely iris holds. It won best plicata in the Lincoln Iris Society show and has stunning ruffled falls. Compared to ‘Broadband’ ‘Bess Streeter Aldrich’ iris stands for Nebraska’s beauty. This iris was hybridized by one of Lincoln’s own Iris Society members, Dean Douglas. Why wouldn’t you want a flower named after a Nebraska icon in your garden?
When a person visits an iris garden the names of them can hold a special history. It is important to me that children learn the process of iris planting, hybridizing, and the care that goes into it. You will most likely find some history behind the flower, where it came from, why it’s named the name it is, and its past parents.
No matter if some irises depart, or don’t last in its current garden, there will always be more to re-plant and keep on getting more abundant. It’s good to know fellow iris enthusiasts, so together we can expand the iris population with its glory.
So next time you visit Nebraska, think of Bess Streeter Aldrich and all that Nebraska has to offer. One of which is a glorious spot to stop and smell the irises, learn some history, and begin your iris adventure.

Embry Rickman's submission was:  "Victory Road Iris Garden"

If I could choose anywhere in the world to put an iris garden, I would choose the New York Botanical Garden. The New York Botanical Garden does not currently have an iris garden, despite having a wide variety of other plants, so an iris garden would make a great addition. New York is not only a very popular place here, but it is also in other worlds.
When I think of Irises, of course I think of the beautiful flowers, but I also think of a character named Iris. My iris garden would be inspired off of a place in one of my favorite fantasy worlds known as Pokemon. In the world of Pokémon New York is known as Unova Where, Iris is from, and it’s botanical garden Victory Road. The Iris garden I wish to plant would be based off this place.
My garden would have a walkway leading up to the main garden filled with bearded irises. The main garden is based off of the yin yang sign; the theme light and dark. The dark side features Black on Black bearded irises with the occasional Astro Blue bearded iris, contrasting with the other side featuring Catch a Star irises with the occasional glazed orange iris.
There are four smaller gardens with simpler designs. The first has both light and dark purple irises, surrounding black and white stripes of irises, surrounding yellow bearded irises. This garden represents the ghost. The second has a striping swirl, of light purple, and white irises, with yellow and deep purple accents. This garden represents the spirit of battle. The third has slashes of yellow, deep purple, and black irises on a background of grey irises. This garden represents the power of rule following. The fourth features many shades of pink irises with black and white accent irises. This garden represents the mind and intelligence.
The last section of this garden is the centerpiece of it all. It is a portrait from above of a green, black, and red dragon composed of bearded irises, on a tiger lily made up of the closest orange to red, dark purple, and black irises. This centerpiece garden represents effort, goals, and dreams.
If anyone visits my iris garden, I would want them to walk away with the message that I can create an iris garden about whatever I want if I try hard enough, and they can too. My iris garden could inspire others, even if it is not actually built, and so could yours. This same idea is not just limited to iris gardens, but any idea you or I might have. There is one more thing necessary for my garden to be complete to teach visitors this. It is a stone slab with the following quote:
“You said you have a dream… that dream… make it come true! Make your wonderful dream a reality, and it will become your truth! your ideal!... If anyone can, it’s you”