We have rarely been more excited about a plant than we are about a recent hybrid Peony, 'Bartzella'. It's a cross between a herbaceous and a Tree Peony, a horticultural feat that has proved remarkably difficult to accomplish. The result is a stunningly beautiful variety whose deep sulphur yellow flowers, each with red flames at the center, are carried on a plant that looks and behaves like a very big, healthy herbaceous Peony bearing dozens of huge flowers (9in across) on strong stems, above rich green foliage. There are very few yellows in the herbaceous Peony world, and none can compare with 'Bartzella' in beauty or performance.
When word spread at the nursery last spring that our 'Bartzellas' were blooming in the stock beds, employees made a point of detouring to that corner of the property to admire, even in the rain.
The quest for this elusive marvel began in Japan in the 1950s, but it was Roger Anderson, an amateur breeder in Wisconsin, whose 12 patient years of crosses between species finally hit the jackpot in 1980. (He didn't see 'Bartzella' bloom until 1986.) Since then, few plants have made it to the market. We have a handful of plants available for delivery this fall.