Scented peonies

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

Wondering if anyone had actual experience with some of the old standard lactiflora peonies having a reasonably strong fragrance. I would like to plant some for cut flowers. The older ones are more within my budget and I really don't care about the expensive "new and improved" varieties. The few I have do not have any fragrance I can detect.

Kansas City, MO

I have felt for a long time that what is on the market now as old standard lacti's are not the same plants from years ago. To me they have lost much of their scent. If I was looking for a really scented plant I would purchase from two in Canada, Lindsey D'Aoust and Caprano Mano. Both of the ladies have many of the older plants that retain the fragrance. Other than that a visit to a local nursery where you can smell in season and they will either dig to order or have a potted peony with flower are about the only way to assure yourself what you are receiving.

I will give a little of the reasoning why I have came to the thought concerning scent. Each plant no matter what it is receives nurishment from the soil. Depending on the soil plants will adjust themselves to it. To live a plant may reduce the genes that pass any trait to their offspring. Sometimes in doing so good traits are lost for increased production. Since many of the peonies/plants are passed from grower to grower, many that are available could be traced back to a few sources. Since the pathways are fairly narrow a search must be made to find the things that are important to you such as fragrance.


Many will disagree with me but if you think of the plants that you can compare in your own area you will notice that they respond differently to different growing conditions even in a small area.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Festiva Maxima has an amazing scent. I imagine that it is roses and whipped cream I repeatedly stick my nose in it. It is healthy and beautiful, easily available and inexpensive.

I have several old ones but I would ahve to sniff them again to remember. But I can never forget FM and look forward to it all season.

Gorgeous too.

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

This is a pic from last year of one I thought was FM. When you buy at WM or other big box stores, it is only a guess of what they really are. I once bought 3 KR's for 6 bucks when I first began growing peonies. It turned out they weren't KR but they were a nice red color and I think 2 have survived.

This example, FM or not, doesn't seem to have much fragrance. I was thinking of something having a stronger fragrance such as some of the older irises.

Thumbnail by Oldgardenrose
Kansas City, MO

Don Hollingsworth has a collection of old garden peonies that he collected a number of years ago. Each year he has at least one for sale normally about $10. They are ones that were sent to him from accross the country when he attempted to gather a collection of farmstead peonies. It ended up that most were the same plant. He selected the ones that were different and placed trade names on them since he did not know what the historical name would have been. They all have scent. Last year's list was Carr East #2, Dewey HP1-61 and Mary Willa's.

Mme. de Verneville, Mrs Franklin D. Roosevelt both have good scent. I mostly grow dark reds but find that the soft pink/white older cultivars seem to have stronger fragrance to me.

(Warren)Lisbon Falls, ME(Zone 5a)

I'm with you AH3815. I find the older whites and true soft pinks are the best for fragrance.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I've been lucky with my peony purchases in that I've been able to buy specific cultivars. The big boxes have great deals but as OGR pointed out you can get mystery peonies. Yours is absolutely gorgeous! Scent would be icing on a great cake.

I have Mrs. FDR as well. I do think that perhaps historically scent was considered an imporant component to peonies, since the newer ones are less likely to have scent. And wow, some of them are expensive!

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

I usually snip off all the side buds, leaving only the terminal bud to bloom, and have very large flowers which should concentrate fragrance, if any. At least, that was always my intention but doesn't appear to work. I need to check the listings from the larger growers and try to come up with a few oldtimers to plant this year. I bought a couple of special peonies from Hidden Springs last year and their service was great. They may have some of what I need.

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

Just a quick check of Hidden Springs and Adelman's gave me more than I need at this time.

Chestine Gowdy, pink/cream, "heavenly fragrance" 1913

Alexander Fleming, pink, "sweet scent" 1950

Hermione, pink, "almost heavenly fragrance" 1932

Diana Parks, red/orange, "very fragrant" 1942

Ann Cousins, white, "rose fragrance" 1946

Duchess de Nemours, cream/white, "very fragrant" 1856

Elsa Sass, white, "very fragrant" 1930

Festiva Maxima, white, "very fragrant" 1851

All except Diana Parks ($29.95) were $20 or under which should not be a bad price for top-quality clumps.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

What a lovely list. Just a quick word of warning. The beautiful Ann Cousins is a major flopper, and will need substantial support. I use Lee Valley peony rings on that puppy. I was sent it by mistake (it was supposed to be another Festiva Maxima) and I love it, but it does need major support when it blooms.

Donna

This message was edited May 10, 2010 9:40 AM

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

It seems we always have a thunderstorm with wind and rain just as the peonies are in full bloom. I have read a number of post last year where the merits of various supports were discussed. I have it in my mind to try to find some of the white wire border fencing to close around each plant. I know it is available in the shorter heights of about 18 - 24 inches but some 36 inch would be about right.

Kansas City, MO

Most of the old scented ones were produced for bouquets for inside houses. The plants were selected for long stems than would stay fresh in a mansion.

Saturday I attended a talk and as an aside the speaker mentioned using the green velcro that is now being sold to tie up the peony plant for the period of flowering then removing the velcro after bloom. Sounded interesting. I normally just let them flop but since I have some that I purchased to train a rose on a trellis I may try it.

Pocono Mountains, PA(Zone 6a)

Thank you! I inherited a peony from a friend who moved. It was pink like my grandmothers' peonies, but no scent! So disappointing. It looks like Sarah Bernhart, but I am not certain. I am looking for more scented varieties, thanks for the list.

As for big box store peonies, I bought Sorbet on clearance sale at Walmart, 75% off. I planted it right away that fall and it bloomed the next year, only one bloom, but the correct cultivar. It came back even better the last year. It has more scent than so called sarah, but still not the same as the peonies of my childhood memories.

Thanks for the tip on using white wire fencing to prevent flopping. I usually gather the tallest, floppiest blooms to bring inside for bouquets.

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

That list was only a partial sampling for what I would probably buy. I just looked at Hidden Springs and Adelman's. Adelman's has wide selection of scented peonies--I believe they had a separate section of scented ones. I have several reds and wanted some pinks and whites for balance. I will probably narrow the choice down to about six.

Correction: Rechecked the two sites and Hidden Springs, not Adelman's, has a separate section listing fragrant peonies.



This message was edited Feb 23, 2010 9:22 AM

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Mrs. FDR is lovely and scented. It's neat peony because it "morphs" in shape and color. Widely available and inexpensive.

Here it is in bud.

Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Opening.

Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

All fluffed out (center flower).

Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

Mrs. FDR would be one to consider as a lighter color. It is listed at both HSFF and Adelman for $24.95 and $22. They differ as to description of fragrance so it is nice to have someone actually growing it.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

OGR, it is definitely lighter because, as you can see, it fades to white in bright sunshine. This is definitely something to consider. I didn't realize it myself, and three of my peonies, Festiva Maxima, Cornelia Shaylor, and Ann Cousins all fade to white in our bright sunshine.It really made me appreciate Lady Alexandra Duff (another shipping error I came to love) becuase, yes, it stays PINK!

Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

And OGR, interesting thing. Lady A is supposed to be SEMI-double. Here is how it looked the ear before, first bloom after installation.

If I hadn't seen it in year one, but only year two, I would have guessed it as double.

And, wow, has the price of Mrs. FDR shot up. A&D has it for $25.00. It must have surged in popularity. The on I got years ago had seven eyes and cost about $15.00. It's readily available, not new (so no patent) and ironclad. Go figure!

On the other hand, perhaps these wonderful plants are undergoing a renaissance.

D

Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

The same thing is occurring with a lot of the iris folks. One lady who grows iris commercially said she had dumped all her old cultivars since she could barely give them away. Now they are searching for the oldies, the older the better. We are learning "new and improved" is not necessarily better. To me, if a flower has no fragrance, it may as well be made of crepe paper. You can buy fake ones anywhere.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I'm with you. I feel the same way about roses. If it doesn't have scent, for me, it needs a very special quality, perhaps endurance in a difficult location. It must look strange, but every May I'm on my knees in front of Festiva Maxima and roses like Marchea Bocchella, sniffing away. It's a big part of the charm.

This message was edited Feb 27, 2010 7:17 AM

North East England, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

I have Kelways Glorious and Edith Cavell and both have a distinct scent. Both are creamy white. If you get a nice plant great but if it has scent too go for it!

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Galan, there is a wonderful story in Allan Rogers book, "Peonies" about the plant that made him fall in love with peonies. He was being, as he put it, dragged along on his parents' annual peony walk. But something stopped him in his tracks - a huge, scented, white peony, which he as I recall "excitedly" showed to his parents. It was Kelway's Glorious. He received a root of it for his next birthday, and as he put it, a lifelong affair began.

When I started collecting in 2003, it was hard to find. I always felt that Festiva Maxima (which has always enchanted me) was the next best thing - my ah ha! peony moment similar to his.I had been buying old garden roses, lilies and ornamental grasses. I had always thought peonies were big blobs. Then I collected peonies that morphed white - Mrs. FDR and Cornelia Shaylor - and was mistakenly given an Ann Cousins. But if I could go back to the beginning, I would definetely get KG.

Thanks for a nice memory.

Donna

North East England, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

You're welcome. Plants can do that can't they! I have lately been buying more of the species peonies and that has started another love affair for me...!

Pocono Mountains, PA(Zone 6a)

I love the old cultivars, especially the sentimental ones. I love plants from "grandma's garden" even if I don't know the name of the cultivar. I am a novice gardener, but already leaning to heirloom roses and possibly peonies as well. I love fragrance and have been disappointed in the fragrance in the "new and improved" roses, peonies, iris and lily of the garden. Personally, I don't see the point of a scentless peony. The are big floppy flowers that take up a lot of garden space for a relatively short bloom period. I am willing to overlook that for fragrance. (I wish that I had a chance to save some plants from my grandmothers's gardens, but I was young and traveling at the time they sold their homes.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Ah, heirloom roses! I have two Portland/Damasks, which rebloom well, a non-blooming Damask, a hybrid perpetual, a bourbon and several others. The scents are wonderful, and Portlands are particularly wonderful for disease resistance, scent and reblooming. They are smaller and upright, and easy to fit into the garden. I just love them.

Pocono Mountains, PA(Zone 6a)

I have only one heirloom rose, Souvernier de la Malmaison, but would love to add more. Top on the wish list is grus au auchen (?spelling). I have only been gardening for a couple of years.

Kansas City, MO

For your Gruss An Aachen Rose try http://highcountryroses.com

Looks like a wonderful flower.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Gruss an Aachen is a fabulous rose. I have two of them, and have for years. The blooms are very recurrent. If I deadhead it it begins producing new buds days later. It is very healthy, with just a touch of blackspot, and on my two the color morphs from pink, to peach, to apricot, to yellow to white. And not too big. Tops out at about 2 1/2 feet for me. Pretty leaves. Tidy growth. You can grow it in a container if you like.

I have 23 roses, and if I could keep only one, it would be Gruss.

Donna

North of Atlanta, GA(Zone 8a)

I bought the Carr East and Dewey from Hollingsworth and am anxious to see if they will bloom this year.

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

Ordered Chestine Gowdy and Hermione from Hidden Springs, $19.99 each. Wanted the fragrance and already have several red or dark pinks. Both of these appeared to be white/pink and will make a good start to a named collection.

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