Sublime Peony Scent

Paeonia lactiflora \'Sarah Bernhardt\' and Campanula (peony and bellflower) The beautiful flowers and wonderful scent of peonies are always worth the wait. Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is a double flowering peony too full of soft petals to hold its blossoms fully upright. Here the perennial forms a backdrop for the vivid purple flowers of Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower). The fat buds of Dianthus caryophylus ‘Grenadin’ (pink carnation) have not opened yet.

Peonies have one of my favourite scents in the garden. The fragrance wafts on the lightest breeze, and entices me to venture to this side of the garden. It’s hard to resist bending over and sniffing the heavenly perfume up close.

Paeonia lactiflora \'Sarah Bernhardt\' (peony)The golden stamens are half hidden in the  centre of this flower labyrinth. The peony blooms are so impossibly packed with petals, you wonder how a bee could ever find its way out of the maze.

The pink shadings of Sarah Bernhardt are delightful. Towards the centre, where the petals are tightly folded, it is a medium pink. Towards the outer edges, where the petals flare out, they are a pale pink, like the inside of a delicate shell.

I have my peony planted in part shade, but it still gets a fair number of blossoms. It has a metal support ring under it, to keep upright. However, the longest branches still arch, with the heavy flowers leaning over. This is such a cherished plant, that this habit becomes an endearing trait.

Sarah Bernhardt is a particularly lovely peony, with its pink powder puffs. This perennial usually blooms for about 2 weeks, but easily earns its way in the garden. However brief the flowering time, the beauty and fragrance of peony blossoms are worth the anticipation.

You can see more pictures of Paeonia ‘Sarah Bernhardt’, and read more about them in this follow up post. Do you have a favourite peony?

Paeonia lactiflora \'Sarah Bernhardt\' ( peony)

12 thoughts on “Sublime Peony Scent”

  1. Gail, I think the last photo shows the delicate softness of the petals.
    There are many good varieties of peonies, and some, like Sarah Bernhardt, have been around for a long time.

  2. At this point in time, Sarah is my favorite. But that’s probably because it’s the only one I have! ;-) Several years ago, before we moved here, I had a red one and a white one (names unknown) as they were gifts from a friend’s yard. They were beautiful, though.

    I really enjoy the foliage, too. Once the blossoms are spent, I cut the stalks back to the ground and a nice round “bush” remains. :-)

  3. Shady Gardener, Sarah Bernhardt is my only peony now too. Like you, in my last garden, I had inherited a white one, a red one and a pink one (probably Sarah), but I didn’t know their names. The red one was a tree peony, and I wish knew the variety name, as it was very beautiful.

  4. I LOVE peonies of all sorts. It would be difficult to name only one favourite. Of course I prefer the ones with fragrance, and Sarah Bernhardt also belong to them. Mine are growing in the sun and only a few p.officinalis have a place with a lot of shadow (but with still a few hours of sunshine).

  5. Barbara, it is hard, asking people to play favourites with a perennial that has so many good varieties. Scent is at the top of my list when choosing a peony too.
    Although it is in part shade, it gets a reasonable amount of sun too.

  6. Like the other commenters, I love all peonies, but the scented ones are at the top of the list. The perfume is glorious. I’ve so enjoyed having bouquets on the dining room table behind me as I work at the computer, every so often catching a whiff of the heavenly scent as it drifts over my shoulder.
    I think my large soft pink is quite possibly Sarah Bernhardt. It looks the same and has the qualities you mention. I was given most of my peonies and don’t know any of their names.
    The pink looks so pretty next to the lovely bellflowers. Your photos are beautiful!

  7. Kerri, thank you. The scent of peonies drifting through your room from the bouquets sounds lovely. I tried to plant some fragrant plants, such as lilac and peony, outside my bedroom window, so the scent would float through the window. However, it hasn’t quite worked yet. Perhaps I need a climbing rose under the window.

  8. Sue, it’s hard to resist going out and sniffing them when they’re in bloom. They are coming to the end of their blooming period, and today’s thunderstorm should clean up the blossoms for me. ;)

    1. Amy, ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is a type of Paeonia lactiflora, which is the common garden peony, and they are sometimes called a Chinese peony. The common names can sometimes get confusing, as they can go by different names in different areas. There are many different cultivars, or types, of Chinese peony, since they have been bred for different colours, petals and looks for a long time. ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is one of my favourites, since it has an attractive soft colour and so many petals, giving the blooms a pompom look.

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