Florence Bellis was an extraordinary horticulturist who, in the early 1930's, developed the supremely colorful and vigorous Barnhaven primroses, named after her home in Oregon. She simplified and advanced known methods of hybridizing and seeding, in the process revolutionizing accepted practices. Her technique of hand pollination, previously untried, produced the Barnhaven strains and originations that brought fame and a devoted following.
For 30 years, she worked as a mail-order wholesaler and retailer specializing in primroses and recieved visitors from all over the world. Bellis was a co-founder of the American Primrose Society, and also a founding editor of the American Primrose Society publication. Bellis attributed her love affair with flower color to her "broken engagement" with music.
Born in New Orleans, she had trained to be a concert pianist. As it turned out, her future was in horticulture, not music. She later realized that her obsession with color for her primroses was compensation for her lost music "since tone is color heard, and color is tone seen."