Hybridizer Joseph Ghio
Born in Santa Cruz in 1938, Ghio's father was a fisherman while his mother came from a farming background. In 1953, a then-teenage Ghio came across a copy of a catalog featuring the top 10 irises of the year, and was immediately fascinated by the colors, he said. He sent away for a $5 collection of rhizomes.
After studying up on hybridizing, Ghio began creating his own plants in 1954, and he's never stopped, even while pursuing other demanding lines of work. A graduate of San Jose State with a degree in business education, Ghio moved to Hayward in 1960, where he took a job as a high school business and history teacher.
In 1967, Ghio moved back to Santa Cruz and accepted a teaching position at Harbor High School. In the mid-'70s, Ghio entered local politics. He was Santa Cruz mayor in 1975, 1977 and 1980. He also served on the city council for three terms.
But it is the iris that has always captured his imagination. In 1980, Ghio was the recipient of the American Iris Society Dykes Medal for 'Mystique'. The medal is the highest honor bestowed by the AIS, given to one iris per year. Ghio said he wants to win that elusive second medal.
The AIS Register Lists 924 registrations for Joe Ghio. He was awarded the AIS Hybridizer's Medal in 1979. His iris 'Mystique' (1975 TB) was awarded the Dykes Medal in 1980. He has won innumerable Sidney B. Mitchell Medals for PCIs. He coined the term "bubble ruffling."