Two years ago we found a mutated plant in one row of Rozella plants. Instead of the usual dark pink blooms, we found a plant with half of the stems delivering beautiful pale pink ones. Rozella being an excellent plant with her very sturdy stems and large flowers, we were quite happy with this of course. But we didn’t want to end up with another Mr. Ed (the mutated Monsieur Jules Elie, that tends to give flowers of both colours, sometimes in the same flower). So the mutated stems were carefully labeled and when dividing the plant, we made very small divisions close to the mutated stems to avoid any non-mutated root parts being part of the new plants. The plant before division had six stems of which three were pale pink. Two of the latter stood very close to one another, so that could only be made into one division. That way we only got two very small divisions we hoped would be pure pale pink. Now after two years they have grown well and did flower well, although these plants are surely not fully mature. As it turns out, one of the plants seems completely pure. The other still gave us one dark pink flower, so we’ll need another try at removing the non-mutated parts there. You can see the results below.
As those who grow Rozella will know, it’ a very fine cultivar and has won an Award of Landscape Merit (ALM) from the American Peony Society (APS) thanks to all its good qualities. And as this mutation resembles the colour of Sarah Bernhardt well, we think it might be a good replacement for it when there are more than only these two plants of course. It’s much sturdier, the flowers are at least as large and they open well indoors, thus tackling the two main flaws Sarah Bernhardt has as a cut flower. It flowers at approximately the same time, perhaps even a bit later, just as Rozella does.
The buds are pale pink, average of size and well closed. The flower itself has no fragrance at all, just as Rozella. Sarah Bernhardt does have some fragrance, but it is only a light fragrance and not especially nice, thus making it unlikely that people would prefer Sarah Bernhardt for this.