The Pursuit of Pleasure

The Pursuit of Pleasure

May 25 2020

In the third century BC, a philosopher named Epicurus taught that the highest purpose of life was the pursuit of pleasure and the goal of life is happiness. We’re not talking rampant gratification of your every whim here, Epicurus defined pleasure as tranquility and freedom from mental or physical discomfort. Lucretius, a Roman philosopher, who followed Epicurus in most points, said that “only the pleasures of peace and a pure heart are at last satisfying.”

Gardening is my chief pleasure and brings me that peace and tranquility and at this stage of my life I can throw my heart and soul into it. A garden is a place to get up close and personal, to literally touch nature. I frequently feel like all is right with the world and everything is as it should be when I’m in my garden.

A garden is always a work of the heart. Ask any gardener why they garden and they will speak of love, of beauty, of passion. They will say “I love to play in the dirt, the flowers are so beautiful, there is always hope for next year, gardening is therapeutic” and even “the mistakes are a learning experience.” It’s a calm and gentle pleasure we can make for ourselves.

Of course every gardener knows there is always that one more ‘perfect’ plant we need to have. ‘Need’ being the operable word here. The plant I have long coveted is a ‘Bartzella’ yellow peony, even before I actually saw the flowers. When I visited a local nursery and saw their mature peony in full bloom, I was hopelessly enamored. ‘Bartzella’ is an Itoh peony, a hybrid cross between the herbaceous peonies we all know and a tree peony. Itoh peonies were first hybridized by Toihi Itoh in 1948, the Bartzella in 1980 by Wisconsin breeder Roger Anderson. Apparently he didn’t see it bloom until 1986. I would imagine he was ecstatic when the 6-9 inch yellow, fully double flowers with red centers and a slightly spicy scent finally bloomed. I read that Itoh never lived to see his peonies bloom!

‘Bartzella’ is an expensive peony, I have seen them anywhere from $40 to $80 each, which is why it was on my wish list so long. Last fall I finally splurged and bought one having found a reasonable (relatively speaking) source of large size roots. Then winter came and I waited. It may not even bloom it’s first year, but I am patient, Mr. Itoh notwithstanding. It’s worth waiting for.

The pursuit of pleasure is a worthwhile occupation and there is always-always-room for one more plant.

Paeonia (Intersectional Hybrid) x Bartzella, zone 4-9, 2.5’ tall and 3.5’ wide