Rose fragrance - query

Online it said Madame Isaac Pereire is the most fragrant rose, does anyone own this? What is your most fragrant or best smelling rose?

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Smells lovely, just rife with disease in the UK

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If you ask 10 people, you would likely get 10 different answers. Pleasing fragrance is a very subjective and personal thing. I personally like Chrysler Imperial, but if you’d like to review the outstanding consensus roses, look at the list of the ARS Alexander Gamble Fragrance Award winners.

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On HMF you can see which roses drew the most consensus by looking at the members’ ratings for fragrance.
Any rose listed on the first three pages in the link below is going to be very fragrant, in a variety of climates/growing conditions.
Caveat: Of course the problem with this list is that the rarer roses will automatically have less ratings, even if the fragrance is just as strong or stronger than some better distributed ones, but I still think it gives a good overview.

Scent is the perception of oils and alcohols as they volatilize (become vapor). Most scents are combinations of varying elements of scent so usually it isn’t just one, but a combination of many, and they all evaporate, or become vapor, at different temperature/humidity combinations. If the air is too windy, too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry they may not evaporate and express themselves at all or may volatilize so quickly they literally blow away. You have to hit the particular bloom at the best combination of heat and humidity to fully perceive all of its scent. Gene Boerner, the long-time rose breeder for Jackson and Perkins used to place a bloom under his hat where the heat and perspiration from his head would create the right environment for him to perceive the scent. Some hold the bloom in their cupped hands and exhale into them so the warm, moist breath helps the oils and alcohols express themselves. Add that when, at what age, you smell the flower can alter what you smell. What can smell of one type initially, can be extremely different after even a short while in very warm conditions. As the various types evaporate, it leaves the rest so you may love (or hate) the scent at one point, yet find it quite enjoyable when sampling it later.

All of that is sufficiently variable it’s a wonder we even smell most flowers. But to confuse the issue further is the fact that scent perception is chemical. Humans all have similar chemistry, but we are each incredibly chemically different. What tastes bland to one can be incredibly spicy, salty or even hot to another. What has a tremendous scent to one nose can be virtually scentless to the next nose standing right beside it in the identical conditions. My spouse isn’t sensitive to bitter tastes, while I am an extreme bitter taster. What is passable to others is horrendously bitter to my taste buds because of our different chemistries. You and I may smell the same rose, at the same time, in the same place and one may smell it while the other can’t, or one may smell a “Damask” scent while the other smells “Orris” or “clove” or “fruity” or any of the other types of scents present because of the varying chemical sensitivities between us. Then, you have to add the factors which inhibit your olfactory performance. Age, pollution, medications, allergies, accidents, are just a few of the factors which can make an otherwise sensitive set of olfactories become dulled or even unresponsive. Literally, when you look at all the variables, it’s quite remarkable we seem to smell as much of the same things as we do.

So, when you ask, which rose is THE most fragrant, there can never be an absolute answer because it depends upon which nose smelled it when and where.

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I grow Madame Isaac Pereire and it does have a strong fragrance. The French historically have a different nasal palette than us modern growers. To me, it has very strong top notes that I find too “astringent” meaning that it tends to burn my upper nasal passages. It is an elegant scent however the plant has “problems” but is perfectly adequate as a garden rose. I grow many types of things, food and flowers. It is not a problematic rose in my opinion and still very much worth growing. Modern rose introductions are very much hit or miss, a well-thought-out collection of the old garden roses makes alot of sense. Bourbons as a whole are high performing for me. Maggie and Madame Pierre Oger are 2 others that perform with many flowers and general vigor that have beautiful fragrances. Many of the best modern roses don’t perform as well. There is a reason people are still propagating these kinds of old roses and it’s not nostalgia that is driving it. They perform.

Modern American people by and large enjoy the roses that have fragrances that are reminiscent of fruity wines. Jude the Obscure is a TRULY spectacular fragrance. I live in zone 6 B Pennsylvania and it performs for me here. The Fragrance is superb. Abraham Darby is absolutely worth growing. It is beautiful and vigorous and performs and the fragrance is superb- always there morning noon and night-always fragrant. There is some foliage issues but I give 0 f’s about that. Roses are best as thorny vines that give incredible flowers. The idea that roses are well-foliated bushes is not something that I get behind. The best grown roses I have ever seen are huge old tree’s with bare stems and cascading branches with abundant flowers. I give 0 f’s if my tomatoes vines are well foliated. I give 0 f’s that all that foliage gets blight. Chop it off- I care about fruits. Not having all that foliage means I have an understory that allows concentrated plantings of marigolds, onions, beans, zinnias whatever. I should state that of all flowers nothing brings in pollinators and predatory insects like roses. They come consistently and biodiversity explodes. The other annual flowers do not perform nearly as well in this regard.

If you can get it- and I am not being flattering, I grow over 100 roses- Annie Laurie McDowell is truly a spectacular fragrance. So so good. UNIQUE I must say among my collection. It is floriferous.

DEE LISH is a spectacular fragrance. It has a strong reminiscence of Grapefruit- the sweetness not the bitterness. I don’t even like grapefruit but it is so so good. This is a very strong rose with strong growth and lots of vigor. Sweet Madmoiselle is also very productive with an excellent fragrance.

All I have is my OWN experience, besides those already stated- this is my list:

For me these are top-tier fragrances from Roses that absolutely give flowers constantly-

Pat Henry/ Narender this rose will become a legendary rose- it is stunning in every way
Troillus (smells of sweet honey and graham crackers)

Pretty good roses that bloom but fragrances arent as amazing that but still great-

Tiffany- flowers are small though. Old-fashioned forms with many petals
Rosa Moscata (this is worth growing)
The Prince (I actually love the fragrance THE MOST but the flower flushes get messed up if he is not given water and nutrients freely)
The Squire (his dad but less spoiled and large flushes- these are way better than old garden roses in general IMO)
Compassion- pretty damn good in both respects

Good Roses with good fragrances

Cardinal Hume is worth growing- the cinnamon fragrance is there and the flowers are small but have a really beautiful shape
Lyda is superb- it is what people think a wild rose should look like and the fragrance is so sweet and pure and uplifting

In my opinon- the damask and portlands are a WASTE of garden space here for me. I will keep two of mine in hopes that they settle and grow out but that is it. I am moving the others to an assoicates field this autumn but I am not keeping these things that do not bloom and look that scraggly.

In my opinion- the teas and chinas are AMAZING and give flowers although the fragrances are not all that remarkable. General Shablikine is a tea rose that smells fruity exotic and wonderful. The flowers are really beautiful. Duchesse de Brabant is also excellent in both regards but the flowers are wimpy in the sense that they fall apart easily. Tipsy Imperial Concubine has a lovely fragrance but is not top tier but the flowers are actually some of the most beautiful PERIOD EVER of ALL ROSES I HAVE EVER SEEN.

These were supposedly great but disappointed on some levels due mostly to vigor and willingness to bloom IMO Zone 6b:

Papa Meilland
Wild Blue Yonder
Crimson Glory
Sweet Chariot gave me no fragrance at any point