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Roses remain a top pick for fragrance
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Some gardeners believe roses have lost their fragrance, but I have stuck my nose in more than a few that deliver delightful scents for season-long enjoyment.
Double Delight has been one of the most popular hybrid tea roses for almost 20 years. An outstanding rose with a creamy white color contrasting with bright strawberry red, it has a fresh fruity scent you can smell up to 10 feet away. In 1986, the American Rose Society awarded it as the most fragrant.
Double Delight blooms freely, plentifully and vigorously throughout the season, has excellent flower form and attractive foliage. It won the All-American Rose Selection award in 1977.
French Perfume is another intensely fragrant hybrid tea which is also bi-colored. It has ruffled petals that unfold with a yellow and pink center, but as it matures, the outer petals turn a blush ruby and cream. The tantalizing aroma is fruity.
Many consider Mister Lincoln the best red hybrid tea of all time. I was at a large rose show a couple of years ago and the contestants were in shock as the old Mister Lincoln took top honors. It wasn't a question of the quality of the rose, but usually newer roses take the award. The blooms are a velvety red color with a wonderful fragrance.
There are some wonderfully fragrant floribundas worthy of a spot in your yard. I haven't been a fan of lavender roses in the past, but Love Potion has captured my heart. It is probably the most fragrant floribunda. Buds start out deep purple, then open to lavender. They literally radiate a fabulous raspberry scent.
This year's All-America Winner, Scentimental, is strongly fragrant. It is also strongly striped. The rose is fire engine red laced with creamy white. You probably will either adore it or hate it.
Scentimental is the first striped rose to win the All-America honors. But if you love striped camellias, I don't see why you would not want to give this rose a try. The strawberry parfait-looking blossoms have a strong, spicy fragrance you are sure to love.
The David Austin English roses claim the most fragrant award in my book. My favorite has been Abraham Darby, a pink-peach, apricot blend. It is a huge bush loaded with old cabbage-looking roses so fragrant you have to stop for a closer examination.
Evelyn is a very fragrant rose fairly new to the United States. It has apricot-pink blossoms that form a perfect cup reminiscent of the old garden roses. It grows only about 3 1/2 to 4 feet in height and has blossoms about four inches across. If you want a red, fragrant David Austin rose, try Fisherman's Friend.
Antique rose lovers will tell you that the best fragrance lies in this category. Among the favorites are the Bourbons, which resulted from a cross of Old Blush and Autumn Damask.
Today there are more than 40 Bourbons still on the market. These are highly fragrant and are cupped or quartered. One of the most prized Bourbon roses is the Zephirine Droughin from 1868. This rose has gorgeous rose-pink flowers on thornless stems. It is very fragrant and moderately disease resistant.
My favorite fragrant Bourbon is Madame Issac Pereire. It is very vigorous and can be trained as a climber. The rose has gorgeous rose-purple flowers and an almost intoxicating fragrance.
In almost every class of rose, there are some with wonderful fragrance. That is why it's good to visit public gardens to help choose one for your home.