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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in Bartzella (2)


Spring Flowering Itoh Peonies, Better Than Ever.

Itoh Peony, Kopper KettleIf The Disney Studios could have created a flower worthy of fairy-tale magic, it might have been an Itoh peony. Its surreal vivid color, perfectly contoured plant shape, and synthetic looking, sensuous and smooth petal-texture all belong on the storyboard of the most imaginative artist.

Its powerful visual impact defies descriptive language while the camera only taunts the viewer as did stripper Miss Gypsy Rose Lee who revealed little while stimulating the imagination.

Like many items that are too good to be true, the visceral experience that defines the Itoh peony comes with a hefty price tag. This reliable perennial belongs to a group of expensive plants. I was mandated to include it in a project earmarked with a generous budget, for a homeowner who wanted traffic-stopping drama in her flowerbeds.

Itoh Peony, BartzellaWhen the Itoh bloomed and I witnessed my client’s over-the-top emotional reaction to the yellow Itoh variety named Bartzella, I understood its potential and proceeded to test-grow several other varieties in my garden.

The plant that I selected for my client was ripe with many buds restless to unfold had a retail price tag of $75. A smaller sized version was available at $35 but it sported few buds.

Both of these high price points made this perennial an unsuitable candidate for test growing and I postponed doing so until I located a wholesaler who offered one-year-old varieties at an affordable cost.

Itoh Peony, Morning LilacBaby Itoh peonies are excruciatingly painful teases. In the first year of growth, they may or may not deliver flower buds. If they do, one or two impressive blooms are all that one can expect. Year two is less painful and in year three they are rich with bloom.

There is an irony to test growing Itoh peonies before including them in work projects.  By the time one is satisfied with their color and performance, the wholesalers in my area no longer carry the specific impressive variety that I want to rebuy.

In my location, Itoh’s high cost restricts its sale to a small group of gardeners who are unlikely to return to buy more of the same. So bowled over are they by the spectacular nature of its flowers, that by the following season these plant lovers are prepared to experiment with, and be surprised by, any new variety. They are, in fact, gardeners who collect exotic plants.

Itoh Peony, Kopper Kettle, If I want to include a tested and proven Itoh in a future project, I will have to learn how to propagate them on my own. That educational experience has just begun. A few weeks ago, I dug up one side of an Itoh root ball, sawed off a portion of its dense, woody core and transplanted it into my test garden. Like other peonies, I anticipate that the foliage will traumatize, turn brown, wilt away, and return next season as a fresh offspring. If I am successful, it will have been worth the effort.

Update 2014 : I was not successful in propagating this plant.


Peony Bartzella; Bringing New Meaning to Perennials That 'Wow'

What is a superlative plant?  A superlative plant is one that overwhelms both the senses and emotions.

Among those that meet this criterion is Paeonia Itoh Bartzella. It demonstrates clean architectural beauty in its flower and perfect pitch lemon yellow color in petals that glow in sunlight.

I knew when I met the client that she would respond well to superlative plants, and she did. When she sees them in bloom, she swoons. Please do not ask how I knew that certain plants would have this effect on her. I just knew; it is my responsibility to discover these facts about my clients and it's always a gut feeling.

When I visited her this week to attend to a plant that was misbehaving, she rushed outdoors to greet me with  “Allan, your killing me! That plant [referring to Paeonia Itoh Bartzella] is tugging at my heart and the pleasure is unbearable!.” Two weeks ago, she had reacted similarly to Papaver orientale Turkenlouis.

About the same time that I planted Bartzella in her garden, I also planted one for myself. Mine bloomed yesterday for the very first time and it‘s beauty overwhelmed me in much the same way that it overwhelmed my client. Perennial gardeners fantasize about such an experience - the kind that consumes the gardener with passion, joy, and excitement, all at the same time. Bartzella has large dramatic, sculptural blooms in a shade of yellow usually found only in animated cinema. The most excitingly aspect of this plant is that it grows magnificently in gardens that are within arms reach and not only on the pages of a book or magazine. Its blooms are able to project over long distances because of the synergy of shape, color, and size. For the perennial gardener, life doesn’t get any better than that, as the colloquial saying goes.

This past weekend was supposed to be a time for rest. I needed to recover from the 12-hour days I had been logging by planting gardens and interviewing prospective clients. However, when I got up Saturday morning and saw Bartzella in bloom, I understood that it was critical that I immediately drive out of town to my favorite grower in order to pick up another such plant for a new project.

I am in the midst of planting a flower garden for a client who, with her husband, is touched by the beauty of flowering plants. He responds well to clean Zen-like lines and she prefers the lushness and messiness of the English. Bartzella will offer both of them the pleasure they seek. I cannot imagine their new garden without it. The Bartzella I selected has buds that are poised to open in a few days. That is when the client will experience the genius of Mr.Itoh. This talented breeder was responsible for giving us the peony that bears his name, a plant that answers almost every flower gardener’s prayer.