Prescott Area Iris Society ~ A Brief History

The Prescott Area Iris Society began as an informal gathering of irisarians sponsored by the Phoenix Sun Country Iris Society. Various members of that organization came to Prescott to present educational programs. Annually, every spring they mounted an display of iris in a local mall. In the fall of 2002 the Prescottonians were encouraged to form their own society and become an affiliate of the American Iris Society.

In the spring of 2003, the newly formed PAIS held their first iris exhibit at Sharlot Hall Museum in the transportation building. Members brought iris stalks from their gardens and proudly displayed their favorite flowers for the public’s enjoyment. In August 2003, the first rhizome sale was held with donations from PAIS members and from Sun Country. The first sale was such a success the rhizomes were sold out before noon!

In 2006, the Society’s first community project established iris plantings in the Yavapai College Sculpture Garden. The Dykes Iris Medal Winners were added to the garden in 2010. In 2016, the sculpture garden was designated a National Display Garden and a Historic Iris Display Garden by the American Iris Society and the Historic Iris Preservation Society, respectively.

In 2011, the Society’s website,, was launched.

Between 2013 and 2018, PAIS started additional Outreach Programs:

  • Richard Marcusen (Yavapai College) Sculpture Garden:
    Expansion of the iris plantings at the YC Sculpture Garden in 2014 and 2018.
  • Sharlot Hall Museum Historic Iris Gardens:
    Creation of the Southwest’s only public Historic Iris Gardens with plantings of iris dated from 1497 to 1943.
  • Growing Irisarians – Youth Education Program:
    PAIS youth membership program in public and private schools.
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Memorial Gardens (Prescott AZ):
    PAIS established a Memorial Garden to honor 19 Prescott firefighters, who lost their lives in the 2013 Yarnell Fire.
  • Yavapai College Scholarship Program for horticulture students was established in 2017.

Community Outreach

The Prescott Area Iris Society is very active in several interesting, exciting public service programs and fund raising activities, which not only support the Society, but also support our community outreach programs in the Prescott quad city area.

Volunteers in these programs may receive public service hours for the Master Gardeners of Yavapai County and other organizations such as 4H ClubsFFOA, scouting programs and extra credit public service hours for high schools and colleges. If you are interested in participating in these programs, please contact us.

Richard Marcusen Sculpture Garden

The Prescott Area Iris Society (PAIS), working in cooperation with the Yavapai College Foundation, has been developing iris gardens within Yavapai College’s 4-acre sculpture garden to complement and enhance the sculptures created by nationally recognized artists. The Richard Marcusen Sculpture Garden was designated as an AIS and HIPS Display Garden in 2016. Expansion of the garden to honor Arizona Iris hybridizers will be ongoing.

Sharlot Hall Museum Historic Iris Gardens

In the future, completion of this PAIS project will make this the only public display garden of historic irises in the Southwest. These gardens showcase iris from the years 1497 to 1943, the year Arizona Historian, Sharlot Hall, passed away. Additional expansion of the gardens were completed in 2019.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Meditation Garden

In 2014, PAIS, in cooperation with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Prescott AZ), created a Memorial Garden, dedicated to the 19 Hotshot firefighters, who lost their lives fighting the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire. The Memorial consists of walkways, benches, lighting and gardens containing iris, daffodils and daylilies. The garden is located at the entrance to the Hass Interfaith Memorial Chapel. Expansion of the garden was completed in 2017.

Iris Education Program Grades K-5

Our hope is by teaching iris horticulture to children, Kindergarden to Grades 5, in Prescott area schools, PAIS will inspire our youth to cultivate an interest in gardening and iris.

Guest Speaker Program

PAIS has developed a guest speaker lecture and slide show series concerning iris varieties, iris care, and historic iris, which can be presented to horticultural classes in high school and college programs, special interest groups, garden clubs and Master Gardener programs.

Yavapai College Scholarships

Beginning in the fall of 2017, a scholarship for horticulture students was established by PAIS at Yavapai College. The Agriculture/Horticulture department has never had a scholarship program and is very excited our Society created this scholarship for their horticulture students ~ a first at the college.