The flowers of Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ are tightly packed with beautiful pink petals. The delicious fragrance is equal to their physical beauty. When summer begins, I look forward to the gorgeous flowers of this peony.
My ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peony usually gets about 20 to 30 flowers in part shade, each one pretty on its own, but together they put on a spectacular show. The extra full flowers tend to arch over, especially in the rain. I use a one piece metal ring to hold up the peony flowers, inserted when the perennial is about 30 cm (a foot) tall. The ring is quickly hidden by the rapid growth of the foliage.
This Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is planted in an area that is part shade, with more sun than shade. It would probably get even more flowers in full sun, but I’m happy with the couple dozen flowers produced by the perennial here.
The double pink flowers of ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ are tightly packed with delicate looking petals. Each overlapping petal is crinkled on the end to give a fuller look. The pink shading goes from deeper on the bottom and interior of the petals, to lighter at the tips, making it a very attractive peony flower
The soft pink colour of the ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ flower is easy to combine in a border with many garden plants, especially ones that are blue, pink or purple.
I have some purple Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower) planted next to the peony that coordinate well and bloom at the same time. On the other side are some Campanula ‘Summertime Blues’ (bellflowers) with a steely blue colour. In front are some shorter Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Grenadin Pink’ (pink carnations) that are in bud now. At the front edge of the bed are some annual light blue Lobelia that make a flowering border all season.
The scent alone is a great reason for growing a ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peony. The wonderful fragrance is worth visiting this section of the garden everyday while they are in bloom. These rate at the top of my list of favourite scented plants, along with lilac, mockorange, carnations and lily of the valley.
The flowers make beautiful arrangements in a vase, or even on their own. Above is a flower I picked to display in the small glass vase. I took the picture just before I brought it inside. The scent is wonderful indoors, so I put this one on my dining table to enjoy.
Peonies are reliable perennials, faithfully returning every year. They always make me smile with their predictable cycle of behaviour: ants scurrying over the buds, big pompoms opening, scent perfuming the air, stems bending under the weight of the beauty, rain bending them more, and then after a few weeks petals slowly dropping to carpet the ground. They are a very endearing perennial, foibles and all.
There are more ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peony photos and information in this previous article.