“This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise…”
John of Gaunt Monologue, Richard II, Shakespear 
This little beauty has soft cup-shaped petals and an open center. As many of you pointed out, this gives her the look of peony. However, she doesn’t take her name from this resemblance. This is the much loved English Shrub Rose bred by David Austin takes her name from from  Shakespear’s play Richard II. Let me introduce you to Scepter’d Isle! (Although I do have to say that I think calling this rose Fluffy Butt, like Harlea suggested, seems like a great option too.)
It is still early into the rose season for Zone 5, so the bushes who have produced blooms have only given me one or two, but today Scepter’d Isle decided to make her presence known by blooming in a big way. We took advantage of it to get some photos out in the garden. I am so excited to see this lovely little bush showing off, because she wasn’t originally very high up on my list of varieties to buy - ranking at 12th out of the 13 on my list. Originally I only planned to purchase her because she is known for having a myrrh fragrance and I wanted to prioritize varieties with strong scents. I am happy to report that they were not kidding! These blooms smell like myrrh and classic rose! The smell is notable but, in a vase they won’t be overwhelming if placed next to your workspace or on a kitchen table. My absolute favorite detail about this rose though, is her THORNS. They are a bright pink and look so unique against her green stems. 
David Austin first bred this rose in 1996, was granted a US Patent in 1999 and remains available through many rose suppliers including: David Austin, Menagerie, and Heirloom. She is a repeat bloomer, so as long as I am able to keep her healthy I should get a couple good rounds of flowers from her. “Keeping her healthy” has been the main focus of my gardening efforts this week. 
Unfortunately, I recently spotted some signs of thrips in the garden. If you don’t know about thrips, they’re pretty much my nightmare, they destroy flowers by feeding on their petals and creating necrotic damage. They eat leaves too which is really what I am most worried about. With three exceptions all the roses in the garden this year are new plants and for them to make it through our cold winters I need them to have healthy foliage throughout the next couple months to ensure that they are building up a root system that will allow them to survive long term. Our winters have been so harsh with freezing and thawing cycles that I have debated not allowing the rose bushes to bloom this year just to ensure that they’re investing enough energy in their root system. If the garden starts to get hit hard with thrips or other leaf destroying insects I will have to go that route. However, before I start the dramatic business of cutting off the rose buds, I am hoping to try some other interventions. 
For as beautiful as these flowers are, we aren’t just growing them for their looks. As part of the regenerative farming efforts we are embarking on in the yard, we are growing flowers to help increase the pollinator population. So we don’t spray any chemicals or pesticides. We don’t spray because even chemicals that are classified as “acceptable” for organic farming can impact both the insect population and the microbiome of the soil. So instead, for the next couple weeks I will be working to combat pests by apply compost tea and high-Brix molasses. By doing this I hope to increase the health of our soil biome, and in turn increase the sugar content (Brix number) of our plants. I will write more about this later in its own post, but the basic idea is that if my plants are healthier they should be able to fight off the insections on their own- no chemicals needed! 

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