ROSE RAMBLER 26.11.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 26.11.2015

Yes, in just a month from today, Santa will have come and be on his merry way home – hope we can help make your Christmas gift a living, lasting and beautiful present for your loved one this year!

Since it’s so close to Christmas we’re taking orders NOW for GIFT ROSES to be posted – please note that NO ROSES WILL BE POSTED AFTER THURSDAY, 17TH DECEMBER, 2015 *
(*only Melbourne Metro can be posted on Monday, 21st December)

Here are some beaut gift ideas – EVERY gift will be beautifully GIFT-WRAPPED for FREE and price includes pack and post:

  • ALL ABOUT ROSES – my book, personally signed with your message if you would like me to inscribe your own words – $44.95
  • ORGANIC ROSE MANAGEMENT PACK – for a person where there’s no space for a new rose but is interested in caring for the roses they have!  Pack includes:  100g ECO SEAWEED, 500g ECO-ROSE and 500ml ECO-OIL and ‘how-to’ information – $76.50 and we’ll put ECO-AMINOGRO (foliage fertilizer) in FREE saving $18.50!
  • There are a host of magnificent roses which would make an ideal gift – maybe these pics will inspire you … $69.90 as a completely beautiful GIFT ROSE
The glorious large pale yellow/cream blooms with a hint of pink at the edge are delightfully fragrant and produce a stunning continual display of blooms.

Dare you to send this to your parents if you have siblings!!!  This magnificent Modern Shrub Rose produces masses of bright canary yellow clusters of fragrant blooms on a beautifully healthy shrub with glossy mid-green foliage and magnificent crimson new foliage – highly recommended rose!

if you cannot be with your family this Christmas, send them this beautiful rose which has a name to suit your message!  CLOSE TO YOU produces long, strong stems of pale lemon perfectly formed large Hybrid Tea blooms continually throughout the season.  There is a wonderful fruity/spice fragrance and dark green glossy foliage.


Maybe this would be a great idea if you have a difficult situation in your garden …

Hi Diana,  We have a very big suburban garden.  Here are the PEACE roses you sent me in your beautiful gift boxes last December after Mum died.  This hedge needs trimming!  The first photo shows the self-watering pots; they are complete with mulch made from Mum’s sympathy cards.  I think the birds have been pinching the shredded cards for their nests.  Better than chucking them in the recycling.  Monica

My response:  That’s such a super idea to hide the pots like that – gives the impression that the roses are in fact, in the ground!  Also, gets you out in the garden daily to water the pots!!!  Good stuff all ’round!  Thanks for sharing … enjoy the flowers!  Cheers, Diana

Hi Diana,  the previous owners established the box hedges but nothing much else would establish under the trees.  The pots only need watering once or twice a week as the reservoir keeps them moist.  They are really quite water efficient.  I water them from the top and any run off goes into the reservoir for use between watering.  The plants are healthier and use less water than those I have in the ground.  I’m thrilled with them.  Monica


Helping roses get through summer … to a 10 litre bucket/watering can:

  • Add ¼ cup of Eco-rose (Eco-fungicide) to protect foliage from black-spot/mildew by altering the pH of the foliage – clever science!
  • In the same mix, add ¼ cup of Eco-oil (Eco-insecticide) which not only makes the products ‘stick’ to the foliage but also deals with pesky insects which can attack roses and other plants in your garden – use on veggies and safely harvest after spraying.
  • Add seaweed solution – follow directions on pack of product you use – we use Eco-seaweed which is 1 teaspoon of powder to 10 litres – very economical!

We recommend you apply the above products IN THE MORNING and NEVER when the temperature is expected to reach 30 degrees!

Q.  What does Santa say in a race?  A.  Ready, set, HO! 

During summer, continue to fertilize the soil with quality organic fertilizer – we use and recommend C.O.F. – Complete Organic Fertilizer with high quantity of humates which enrich the soil and assist in moisture retention!

Q.  What do you get if you cross Santa Claus with a duck?  A.  A Christmas quacker! 

If you have any particular issues with your roses, don’t hesitate to send through photos so that in consultation with Diana, I can answer your queries.  We enjoy receiving pics of your rose gardens too!!

Take it easy in the lead-up to Christmas – give yourself a break with time to ‘smell the roses’ … Cheers from us here at Clonbinane – Diana, Graham & Mooi

ROSE RAMBLER 19.11.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 19.11.2015

Hello dear rose friends.  Well, it’s sure been a very busy time and we welcome all the new subscribers to our newsletter!

It’s lovely that we have no more planned events away from the Rose Farm and can now revel in the glory of our own garden!  Do come and share it with us when you have a spare day in the busy lead-up to Christmas – rose plants are a very beautiful gift so make your present shopping easy and special by gifting a living, flowering rose this Christmas!

My book, ALL ABOUT ROSES would make a lovely gift for a novice rose gardener or offer insight to organic rose management for all rose gardeners!  If you would like to post it as a gift, let me offer to beautifully Christmas-wrap a signed copy for you!


The COMPOSTING SEMINAR was great – we’ll do another one in 2016 because I realise how much gardeners want to be involved in waste-management and doing ‘their bit for the environment’ in their own backyards!

Q.  What kind of undies do reporters wear?  A.  News briefs


When roses finish flowering on a stem, prune them back along the stem/branch by at least 20cms/8” and if you cut just above an outward facing bud, you’re sure to promote another strong, healthy growth which will produce many more blooms.

Now that it’s getting really warm/hot, you can guarantee that there will be flowers within 40-45 days from the time you pruned – some varieties might produce new flowering stems earlier but 40-45 days is the bench-mark if you’re planning an event or want flowers for a particular occasion.

It is imperative to retain as many leaves on the rose bushes throughout this hot summer so that the rose plant circulates moisture and nutrients to sustain continual flowering!  Leaves on roses keep the plant cool and maintain photosynthesis.

Continual applications of seaweed solution all over the leaves, adding products like Eco-aminogro (fertiliser) will toughen your plants up and assist the plants to produce more flowers despite the hot conditions.  Seaweed solution toughens the cell wall of foliage and thus offers plants between 3-5 degrees of greater heat tolerance – very important!!!

Q.  How do you make a tissue dance?  A.  Put a little boogie in it

There are so many glorious roses in the nursery now … this very old variety is so over-looked and yet so easy-care, amazingly free-flowering, healthy, suited to almost any location in the garden … one of our favourites that we are pleased to grow and highly recommend … APRICOT NECTAR


Have a beaut week in your garden … remember to water your roses in the morning rather than in the evening – enjoy this most magnificent rose flowering season …

Graham, Diana & Mooi at Clonbinane

ROSE RAMBLER 12.11.2015


Hello dear rose friends … We’re gearing up for the State Rose and Garden Show at Werribee this weekend – so hope you make it ‘high priority’ to come for a visit – the Victorian State Rose Gardens are a sight to behold; a hidden treasure so very close to home for lots of us and a MUST SEE!


Thank you so much for your newsletters they are not only helpful hints but a good read also;

Q1:  My question to you is l have a weeping rose (crepuscule) do l have to behead the dead flowers on it or do they just fall off

Q2:  l bought 2 climbing roses from you,(jeanne la joie)  neither of them are flowering, yes l have fertilized, mulched, watered well and good drainage , all of my other roses in the area are doing very good, what could l be doing wrong?  

Many Thanks … Bernadette

My response which is relative to those who grow and love climbing roses:

Thank you Bernadette … you can trim finished flowers from ALL roses and they will re-grow and re-flower more quickly!

About JEANNE LA JOIE… is she growing lovely strong canes?  Sometimes, climbing roses will set all their energy into GROWTH in the first year of planting rather than flowering … if they flower along the way it can be at the expense of massive growth canes!  My JEANNE LA JOIE here produced lovely growth canes last season with very few flowers – this year she’s going to flower and flower – also, there are wonderful NEW water shoots happening too … that’s what climbing roses do!!!  Patience is a virtue with them but they ALL reward in the long term and then you be THE BOSS about how much growth you want where the rose is planted.

You’re doing absolutely NOTHING wrong!  Hope this is helpful … cheers – Diana

Whilst in Adelaide recently, we had the pleasure of visiting Melanie & Kelvin (President, World Federation of Rose Societies) Trimper’s garden – this is Melanie’s photo of 6 x JEANNE LA JOIE plants espaliered on 6 metres of wall  – breathtaking!!!


Q.  When is a car not a car?  A.  When it turns into a parking lot!


You might only have a tidy garden space but still want to grow roses … grow CLIMBING ROSES on walls, in tubs and up posts!  These are two of my favourite climbing roses:

A great healthy rose, crimson red with a white eye it flowers freely in clusters throughout the season and you will see it from kilometers away – if you stop dead-heading in late autumn, this rose has the most amazing hips of any rose!
It makes a lovely vase specimen and attracts the bees …

bright red fragrant blooms continually throughout nine months of flowering season.  Blooms are produced from low down on the canes which reach a height up to 3 metres and fan out beautifully against a wall/fence – one of the best!


Good afternoon.  I notice you mentioned something about thrips in your latest newsletter.  I was taught to get a WHITE piece of material and tie it stretched out between two bean poles, close to the affected roses.  I used to use torn up white bedsheets. The material needs to be about the size of a pillowcase and stretched out.  Thrips are attracted to white.  Don’t know why.  They will often leave the rose and jump onto the material.   Then you can either roll it up and put in a snaplock bag and put in freezer to kill them or dunk in a bucket for a while.  Meanwhile replace the material.  You need to do this several times a day until the population diminishes.

My gran taught me this as she noticed that every time she hung out her white sheets when we had a hot humid spring, they got covered in thrips!  So she devised this method of attracting them when her flower and veg were under attack!  This has often lessened the damage to my roses.  Try it!

Diana’s response:  I’m an ‘old timer’ Mum … I used to LOVE hanging nappies out on the washing line and would get peeved when the northerly winds brought in thrips – took me a while to work out what went ‘wrong’ with my beautiful white wash!!!  Never thought to suggest to rose gardeners that they should span white cloth to attract thrips to the white cloth rather than the roses … thanks for sharing!  Cheers – Diana

Q.  What do you call an insect on the moon?  A.  A luna-tick


Take a look at the plant label which reads:

– a pale pink-cream climbing rose…

oh, oh, it’s producing CRIMSON ROSES which are DR. HUEY UNDERSTOCK which may, if left to grow, take over the whole rose – NEVER prune this growth at ground level!!!  Here’s what you MUST DO if you see understock growing on any roses in your garden – quoted from my book, ALL ABOUT ROSES (always handy to have a copy of my book when things don’t quite go as you anticipate!) …

“Put your garden gloves on.  Once you’ve revealed the source of the understock branch, grab hold of it and yank it really hard and fast – I liken it to when the kids had a loose tooth and I would ask them if I could take a look and wobble it maybe.  Quick yank, tooth gone and kid wondering what the heck happened but excited about the tooth fairy coming that night. When you’ve yanked the sucker away from the understock it is very important to check if there is a nice rounded end on what you pulled away.  If you can see an ‘eye’ which could be compared to a corn on your toe then you have been successful in removing the sucker.”

The story goes on in further detail but you MUST remove those suckers as soon as you see them or they will in fact grow very rapidly and potentially take-over and the budded rose variety will lose vigour and die!

Enjoy all the glory of your rose garden in this magnificent season … see you at one of our events or come and take a walk with us in the garden here at Clonbinane any Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday when we are sure to be here … Diana, Graham and Mooi 

ROSE RAMBLER 5.11.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 5.11.2015

Hello dear rose friends – hope you backed a winner in the Melbourne Cup and enjoyed the magnificent roses shown at every single angle the cameras were throughout the coverage!

We are both at OAKS DAY events today – Graham at Seymour entertaining the ladies who are raising funds for LIONS CLUB and CANCER COUNCIL so his roses will be wrapped in cream/pink (no, he won’t be dressed in a skirt with a fascinator – he has no hair to keep one in place!!!).  I’m over at Yea where table decorations are wrapped in red/blue as funds raised will go to support their local AMBULANCE.


Q.  Where do tadpoles change into frogs?  A.  In the croak-room! 

Here’s a pic of the frogs which LOVE my ‘weed tea’ … I would make the tea just to enjoy seeing frogs when I open the lid to use the tea … beautiful critters which we should all encourage in our gardens …


Every single person I meet is saying how sensational the roses are – BEST YEAR EVER they say but you know what?  They say it every single year because roses are SIMPLY SCENTSATIONAL at this time of year and we should all take time out, quiet, slowly, revel, enjoy and inhale their magnificent fragrance.

A magnificent shrub rose which produces masses of highly fragrant roses
on a superbly healthy rounded shrub


Two most highly fragrant, easy-care roses which are guaranteed to delight you!


Here’s Sallie’s picture asking what?

Hi Sallie .. this is NOT a disease … this is SOMETHING eating the underside of the leaf … I think on one of the leaves I can see where the little caterpillar is tucked in … you go take a closer look – maybe with a torch tonight and you’ll find the little critter!  Suggest you might use ECO-OIL to hinder the breeding of whatever insect it is you have … might also be earwigs!  Beer in little shallow bowls will do the trick on them – do you get our Rose Rambler Newsletter?  Subscribe and lots of answers to queries are there or is a good source of information … cheers, Diana

After checking the roses, here’s Sallie’s response:

Thanks Diana, you are dead right!  The teensiest green caterpillars and aphids.  I missed them completely. I will start getting the newsletter. 
Kind Regards, Sallie

So glad I’m right … definitely not dead!  Aphids will never do this type of damage to leaves as they are on the flower buds … ladybirds and other insects will take care of aphids!

There have been a lot of phone calls and inquiries about what is damaging the outer petals – making them all brown, looking yukky and then the buds not opening … it’s THRIP and there is very little any of us can do to avoid their onslaught!  We suggest removing all affected buds as quickly as possible so that the rose can invest energy into new blooms for Christmas time!  Please don’t spray harsh chemicals around – it won’t help but will reduce predator insects who abound in an ecologically friendly garden.

Make your place a safe haven for all the beautiful insects/birds/frogs – as well as YOU / YOURS / OTHER HUMANS!!!


This Saturday Graham is conducting COMPOSTING SEMINAR here at the Rose Farm and up at the Clonbinane Community Hall – it’s not too late to book for this FREE event organised in conjunction with Mitchell Shire Councilcall 5787 1123 NOW!

On Sunday morning you should tune your radio to 3CR GARDEN SHOW where Graham will be on the talk-back panel – do give him a call – find 3CR at 855 on the am dial (close to 774 ABC) … the BEST GARDENING RADIO TALK-BACK!

There are the open gardens at Yea, the Victorian Rose Society Rose Show at Mount Waverley (see details in previous Rose Ramblers); all the while, I’ll be here at the Rose Farm to assist you when you drop in!

Happy rose gardening from us at CLONBINANE … Diana, Graham & Mooi 


ROSE RAMBLER 29.10.2015

Hello dear rose friends as we are about to board our flight back to Melbourne after a most exciting visit to Adelaide!  We were invited guests to….

The National Rose Trial Garden Annual
Awards Presentation Dinner

because Graham’s very own rose ‘GRA’S BLUE’
was awarded a BRONZE MEDAL


We have experienced the most amazing few days – Graham was overwhelmed and near speechless (believe me, that’s a VERY rare experience!!!).  I feel so proud that his dedication, commitment and love of roses has produced such a stunning Award Winning Beauty and he has been recognised for his passion!

To witness his delight when receiving each Award was sensational  – we stand here with Kelvin Trimper, President, World Federation of Rose Societies for Graham’s award presentation:

The bronze medal and certificate for MOST FRAGRANT ROSE IN TRIAL!

We spent hours trawling through the International Rose Trial Garden of Australia in the Adelaide Botanical Gardens and are excited to report that there are some absolutely magnificent roses being trialed there; if they perform well in the very hot Adelaide conditions, without any pampering – no chemical spray (good!!!), just regular fertilizer regime, water and mulch as you would grow them in your own garden, they will be released in the next few years and we have lots of great roses to look forward to!

We met with our growers, peers in our industry and have had a most relaxing, totally enjoyable time in Adelaide.  Our own roses will be at their absolute BEST from this weekend onwards so you MUST put a visit to SILKIES ROSE FARM, CLONBINANE on your list of ‘things to do’ …


Q.  Why can’t a ladybird ever hide?  A.  Because it is always spotted! 

You’ll be thinking about which horse might be worth backing in the Melbourne Cup but I would highly recommend visiting FLEMINGTON RACECOURSE just to be up close and personal with the magnificent rose gardens there!  If you get a chance, treat yourself to a spectacular day at the races during these weeks of horse racing and I hope you back a winner!

Q.  Why couldn’t the pony talk?  A.  ‘cause he was a little horse.

Grasses are the essence of Nature! Researchers in Sydney found endorphins given off by lawn mowing keep us feeling good about ourselves!  Aaah, the smell of a freshly cut lawn – you know the smell and feeling – no research necessary because we already know how good it feels and looks!!!

There’s more to it though – grasses are essential because, when they break-down in pastures and gardens, their dry matter and minerals wash into waterways and then into the ocean which then turns into a food source for fish.  Our Oceans are the richest source of nutrients on our planet!  Hence, the seaweed solution we use on our plants, which comes from the Ocean, is vital for balanced plant nutrition and remember, regular applications of seaweed solution will afford your roses up to 5 degrees heat tolerance so liberally pour over the foliage of roses at least monthly to ensure bushes retain lots of healthy foliage!!!

ROSE FLOWERS IN THE HOUSE – there is no greater pleasure than cutting a bucket full of rose blooms to fill vases in your home!  Here are some rules which you MUST stick to which will ensure longevity of the roses you cut for a vase:

  • Cut the roses early in the day (when possible) so they are well hydrated and cool;
  • Take a bucket of cool, clean water to the garden with you;
  • Trim the stems as long as possible and dunk them immediately into the bucket;
  • Leave the bucket in the coolest room of your home for a few hours;
  • Use only very clean vases to which you can add flower-preservative, if you prefer;
  • Remove all the leaves which are below vase water level;
  • Freshen water every couple of days – trim stems each time.

Diana devoted a chapter in her book ALL ABOUT ROSES to CUTTING ROSES FOR A VASE – there is an extensive lot of special hints and tips which are useful if you love to have vases of roses in your home during the flowering season … enjoy the beauty of your garden, inside too!

Here is a pic of GRA’S BLUE which was picked on Sunday, conditioned as per above instructions, wrapped in wet tissue and sealed in a plastic bag, placed in luggage for our Monday flight to Adelaide, put back in clean water on arrival at our motel in Adelaide, presented for display on Tuesday night for the Awards Ceremony.

GOLDEN CELEBRATION is one of the first roses flowering in our display gardens ..
aaah, what a sight and fragrance sensation …

and MAURICE UTRILLO … the most stunning and healthy,
robust striped DELBARD ROSE begged to be shared with you …

Also don’t forget to tune in to
ABC RADIO 774 at 10.30am (AEST)
this coming Sunday 1st November

Diana will be in the studio on Sunday morning doing a radio segment so don’t miss out!

See you soon at Clonbinane … Diana, Graham & Mooi … 


ROSE RAMBLER 22.10.2015

Hello dear rose friends as the first magnificent blooms emerge from our frosty, colder than normal winter season – the fragrance and beauty is a delightful reward for our efforts and patience, especially when we know how many of you have been enjoying beautiful roses for many weeks already!

There are a lot of open gardens and events which we have been invited to share with you:

The Rose Society of Victoria Inc.

SATURDAY November 7th – 1 pm to 5:30 pm
SUNDAY   November 8th – 10 am to 4:30 pm

Mount Waverley Community Centre
Cnr. Stephensons Rd & Miller Crescent, Mount Waverley
(opposite Mt Waverley Railway Station, off street parking available)



Or do they?  Here’s an email from Darren …

Hi Diana, I have a quick question – my Reine des Voilettes is currently flowering and there is no scent at all.
I thought this rose was supposed to be highly scented, Is there any environmental factors that can affect scent?  Thanks 

My response:  Hi Darren … maybe it’s YOU ????  Could it be the heat ????  Take a bloom, lay it in the palm of both hands – your body heat will warm it – then take a really clear, long sniff.  REINE DES VIOLETTES

is most definitely a fragrant rose!  There are times when I have detected absolutely NO FRAGRANCE in THE CHILDREN’S ROSE which would be considered one of the most highly fragrant roses in the nursery … it’s all about time of day and where your olfactory senses are at … please let me know how you experience this … cheers, Diana

After emailing that his neighbour come in to check for fragrance, no, she couldn’t smell anything either, the following day I received this email:

YAY!!!  We have success – the rose smells beautiful!! That rich old rose smell.  How bizzare! The sun yesterday must have taken all the scent out of the flower, I know it happens with some of my others (The Prince seems to get stronger scent in the sun and others get weaker but never zero scent like this) – Thanks for putting up with my cyber sooking hehe  Have a good weekend 


Let’s start with something funny because I’m about to get serious … Q.  What sort of hat does a spy wear?  A.  A peek cap! 

It is reported that Australian’s dump 40% of their food waste in garbage bins which then ends up in landfill sites.  If you want to take positive action to stop this happening at your home, here’s a really great idea which I have been trialling for several months since being shown how to by Helmut at Wandong –

Take 1 metre (approx.) off-cut lengths of 100-200mm (or greater if you can find it) stormwater pipe, either plastic/terracotta/concrete and push them very firmly into a garden bed – particularly important if you have a large-breed dog who could push the pipe out of the ground – compost is LETHAL for your pets!!!

The pipes should be located very close to the kitchen.  If you can find a ‘lid’ that would be good – just to keep vermin/birds/pets out.  Each time food scraps are added to the pipe, have a bale of straw/milled lucerne/shredded paper close to lightly cover them – this will add air which is a very important component in good compost-making!

You shouldn’t need to water into the pipes since most food scraps contain lots of moisture but occasionally, if you’re out with a watering-can of seaweed solution, slosh it into the pipe for added nutrient/break down capacity.

Worms will very quickly work out what you’re doing and take up residence in your ‘pipe-house’!  Keep a check on what’s going on by lifting the lid once the pipe is filled up.  Leave it for about 12 weeks then raise the pipe and harvest the humus/compost layer to place around newly planted seedlings, roses, planting holes for all plants.

ALWAYS cover the fresh compost with straw mulch – exposed to the sun, the precious microbes in the compost might die!

An average household will need to have four or five compost pipes to adequately accommodate kitchen scraps.  For a really funky look, get the kids to paint them in all different colours, let them test their graffiti skills at home and add a supremely environmentally-friendly composting system to your garden!

Helmut died at a grand age recently; as a tribute to his life of practicing and sharing, I feel compelled to share his infinite knowledge of ‘natural gardening’ and I hope that you will use this simple, easy, economical and sustainable way of caring for our environment by reducing land-fill waste and composting your food scraps – I am because it does work!

I am doing a COMPOSTING WORKSHOP for Mitchell Shire on SATURDAY, 7th NOVEMBER starting here at the Rose Farm at 10.00am to demonstrate all my composting methods – then we’ll go to the CLONBINANE COMMUNITY HALL (just up the road) to build compost heaps for the Community Garden there.

Bookings are essential – call us on 5787 1123 or contact Council’s Waste Education Officer, Anne McLean:  5734 6200 or email

Just so I know you’ve read all my ‘garble’ and you’re waiting for the second joke, here it is:

Q.  What has four legs and doesn’t walk?  A.  A table – of course! 

Enjoy building your new ‘pipe-houses’ which are sure to be a success during the warm months ahead … Gra

Here are a few pics from around the ROSE FARM this week …
Morning meditation – Gra watering – yes, it requires concentration while being so meditative!

First roses and clematis:  JOSEPH’S COAT climbing rose –
Enjoy all the glory of your rose garden … Diana, Graham & Mooi 

P.S. These gardens will be sensational and very worthy of a day in the country …

ROSE RAMBLER 15.10.2015

ROSE RAMBLER … 15.10.2015 …

Hello dear rose friends –thank you so much to those who visited our site at the Garden Festival this past weekend – I was happy to ‘eye-ball’ some familiar faces in the audience at my presentations – sincere thanks for your support and welcome to all our new subscribers!  This was our site:

When you visit us at STATE ROSE AND GARDEN SHOW at WERRIBEE on Saturday, 14th and Sunday, 15th November – we have an outdoor display with lots of FLOWERING roses and you will enjoy the expert advice from TWO Consulting Rosarians – myself and our son Eric will be there all weekend so do put these dates in your diary – the State Rose Gardens will be in full bloom!

It’s a FREE event (please do give a gold coin donation at the gate because these gardens are managed by a host of volunteers!) and there are lots of displays from nurseries and garden suppliers, delicious food and coffee stalls.  More in later R/R editions …just keep the dates free … this is our PREMIER EVENT OF THE YEAR … to be right there in the most spectacular, world renowned State Rose Gardens – you MUST BE THERE TOO!


It’s from emails I receive and respond to that you will learn lots about those issues we ALL have with rose gardening so read on, weeds first:

Hi Diana, I read with interest your response to Jane regarding onion weed.  I have had great success in “smothering” onion weed in my garden beds with thick wads of wet newspaper covered with a heap of mulch around the rose – making sure I leave the base of the rose clear.  Once that has been lain down the onion weed – and every other weed for that matter has given up the ghost and just disappeared for good.

By the time the newspaper decomposes along with the mulch (couple of years depending on how thick it is laid out) the soil condition has drastically improved into a rich lush (delicious) soil and there isn’t a weed to be seen! 

Rosily and cheerily, Deb

ANYTHING has to be better than using lethal chemicals which contain glyphosate (Roundup) in a rose garden and our environment!


Hi Diana, I have a continuing infestation of aphids on some (but not all) roses. I have been using your recipe and plan to continue using it: my question is whether or not I am diluting the effect as I add seaweed solution to the mix? Why would some roses be more prone to aphid infestation than others? Taste or health of the plant? 

Lots of horse manure available if you want it…..regards, Peta

My response:  “Yes, we’ve got a plethora of aphids too but in the same breath, there are masses of ladybirds (every time I look they’re mating!!!)

and the little birds are keeping on top of eating them too!  You’re NOT diluting efficacy of eco-oil by adding seaweed!  It’s strengthening the cell wall of rose foliage!!!!

I ask the same question as you … why lots of aphids on some roses and not others???  Is it the location?  More confined, easier for aphids to access, less wind, some varieties have more lush foliage in the early spring flush???  All possibilities/probabilities and MOTHER NATURE takes over and does HER job which is one of the lovely challenges of gardening … keep looking out for ladybirds and as long as you’ve got lots of little wrens, sparrows and other birds in the garden, they’ll surely be feasting on the aphids – just like this ladybird – she’ll have them all cleaned up by the end of today!


Your horse poo … I will share it around that you have lots available for collection – lovely stuff and just down the road from Silkies Rose Farm so customers might bring their trailer and load up while they’re here!  Thank you … Diana


Hi Diana, We bought a young rose, which unfortunately never survived planting.  There isn’t anything wrong with the site as we have four other roses surrounding it.  But I have read somewhere that you shouldn’t try to plant a rose where another has died as the new one will die.  Someone else suggested that it was about the bugs in the soil and suggested digging all around the old rose and putting a cardboard box with new soil in its place so the new rose can establish better.

As I have no idea what I’m doing I thought I’d better ask before trying to buy, especially if a particular type of rose is the best answer. 

Cheers, David

My response:  Hello David … do you think the rose you purchased was good quality?  Also, if the rose was only planted this winter, it’s not possible to have the ‘soil sickness’ that is often referred to when planting into the same location where a rose has been growing for many years – the dead rose would only have been there a short time I’m assuming???

I suggest you turn the soil well, add seaweed solution weekly until you purchase a new pl
ant for that location – buy a lovely healthy specimen and I think you’ll be fine!  I hope this is helpful.  Cheers – Diana


Andrea sent through pics of affected foliage low down on her newly planted roses – I suggested she go out at night with a torch and see which critter was eating her roses and this is what she discovered … Hi Diana!!!  Guess what? I found out I think its earwigs eating my roses at front and also my magnolia at back.  So, last night I put down little dishes of BEER!  Voila, today there are dead earwigs in the bowls!  I now have little dishes of dead earwigs!  At least they had a happy ending! Ha ha :)

Thought you would appreciate this little tip which I’m sure you have heard of before.  I did not want to put pellets down in case of animals getting them.

Andrea and Stephen

The story doesn’t end there … Andrea sent a follow up which reads:  “I have just re-done the beer for tonight!! Little alcoholics!  P.S. there is one unhappy camper in the story of the earwigs and that’s my husband!  He couldn’t understand why his beer supply was diminishing so quickly!  Yes the little earwigs had premium Boags! He was most upset to think I had given them the best!  Needless to say we are off to Aldi to get some less premium beer for the darling earwigs!  Andrea”


Just a joke this week since I’ve been busy holding the fort while Diana has been off gallivanting at the Garden Expo!

Knock, Knock.  Who’s there?  Mice.  Mice who?  Mice to meet you! 

Be very vigilant with filling mice bait stations OUTSIDE of your home and definitely OUTSIDE the chook enclosure!  Never put mice bait stations INSIDE your home because you will then have issues with rotting carcasses in walls/under the house/in the ceiling!!!  Please check that vermin haven’t dragged bait out of the bait station because mice bait is lethal stuff if your pets get to eat it!!!

Q.  Why do gorillas have big fingers?  A.  Because they have big nostrils! 

Enjoy all the moments this magnificent spring weather has to offer
– see you soon at Clonbinane – Graham, Diana and Mooi 

ROSE RAMBLER 8.10.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 8.10.2015 …

Hello dear rose friends as the frenzy builds for a spectacular Horticultural & Gardening Festival event at the Melbourne Showgrounds starting tomorrow, Friday 9th until Sunday 11th … we’re ‘bumped in’ with our safety vests on, set up our presentation and would love to see you visit our display and hear Diana speak on MAIN STAGE – Friday from 1.30pm – 2.10pm and again in the DEMONSTRATION AREA with friends from OCP on Sunday 1.30pm – 2.10pm where we’ll show you how easy it is to prepare and spray the organic rose management program to ensure you grow the most beautifully healthy, abundantly free-flowering roses in your garden!

Also come visit Diana at Stand D30 at the festival this Friday, Saturday & Sunday, where she will happily sign a copy of her book ALL ABOUT ROSES and show you how really works. See you there!


There is no greater delight than personally meeting our ‘online’ customers – very recently we have had customers from NSW and QLD visiting Victoria and SILKIES ROSE FARM was on their agenda whilst driving down the HUME FREEWAY.  Since we are within 500 metres of the CLONBINANE interchange we would love to see YOU when you’re down our way!



Hello Diana – Thanks for your return phone call. I receive your newsletter each week and enjoy the read.

I am located in Eltham, Melbourne.  I am disappointed with the way my roses are waking up after winter.  A similar thing happened last year but I put it down to relocating them and that perhaps the soil in the new location was not rich or prepared enough.  The roses seemed to develop good buds but when they open they are not fully formed leaves; just look like unopened wispy shoots.   I fed them with a combination of your fertilizer and when I ran out used “Roses Only”.  I also put down some compost which I purchase from Betta Growers.  It is provided in handy sized bags and they say it is suitable for roses.  I seem to recall reading somewhere (may be your newsletter) that mushroom compost is not good for roses.  I suspect the compost I used may contain mushroom compost but the contents are not fully listed on the bag.  Do you think this could be the cause of my rose problem?  At first I thought it might have just been the colder weather delaying the new growth but I have a couple of roses in the area and in another area doing the normal thing (they don’t have the compost on them). Attached is a photo of the rose growth (note the standard roses are healthy and were purchased from you last year; they are co-located with the bad performers (also provided photo of another rose in the same area which is also healthy; it is a La Marque).  There are about 8-10 roses that I am concerned about.

I spray the roses with the recommended dose of eco rose, liquid seaweed, eco oil.

Re the use of weed spray; I may have used some last year but on a lower section of the garden on a gravel path (near the Dublin Bay climber).  I normally use a wand not a spray.

I would really appreciate your advice on what the problem might be and how to get the roses moving. Thanks Diana. 

Regards Kathy
Pic of Dublin bay with affected foliage:

MY RESPONSE … Ok, there are a few roses in the nursery pots doing the same thing???  Has happened before and our agronomist recommended using YATES TRACE ELEMENTS … fixed the problem in no time – if you can get hold of a pack of ROCK DUST that would be good for them too … fortnightly applications of seaweed solution will help the TRACE ELEMENTS do the job.  You might check with the source of compost what EXACTLY they have in the product????  A bit spooky that roses you DIDN’T put the compost on are doing fine!  You must be asking the question yourself???

They’ll come right in no time, I’m sure – please keep us posted.  Hope this is helpful … cheers, Diana


Dear Diana & Graham – Could you help with any suggestions on how to kill or manage onion weed in gardens?  
Thank you, Jane
MY RESPONSE … Hi Jane … I wait for a moon phase which is most beneficial for weeding and pull them out by hand!  Yes, might be considered a NUT but it works for me!!!  One particular garden bed where onion weed is quite rampant can be a challenge but I pull them every single time I visit that garden – most times I get the bulb and all – must be just lucky sometimes I guess.  Hope this works for you … cheers

To which Jane responded (hope she was having a giggle as I did):  Thanks for your reply, thought that might be the answer … Jane


Yes, aphids are in the wind from pasture areas all around Australia.  To control these critters and allow ladybirds and other predators to build up good numbers in your garden, DON’T USE ANY PESTICIDES – not even Pyrethrum as you will kill ALL the beneficial insects!   Look closely and see the beneficial ‘lacewings’ too …
Q.  Why wouldn’t they let the butterfly into a dance?  A.  Because it was a mouthball!

I caught Diana intensely studying one of the climbing roses on an arch in the nursery and she was keen to show me 3 ladybirds (two of whom were sleeping so late in the morning?) and estimated there would probably have been no less than 10,000 aphids on the plant – yes, she’s prone to exaggeration so modified that to 1,000 aphids – how could 3 ladybirds possibly keep up with eating all those aphids?

Aphids are voracious breeders and their numbers are dominant – it takes a while for ladybirds and beneficial insects to populate as rapidly as the aphids so if you start spraying with ‘quick-fix’ chemicals, you’ll kill ALL the beneficials but not ALL the aphids and they’ll be breeding rapidly before you even put the sprayer back in the shed!!!

ECO-OIL however, will assist in the control of aphids by suffocating them – it is especially effective on their ‘babies’ at larval stage which interrupts their breeding cycle.  If there are huge numbers of aphids inundating your roses, add ECO-NEEM to the ECO-OIL so when the aphids suck the foliage, ECO-NEEM goes into their brain and tells them to stop eating.

There is obviously a way more scientific explanation of this product but this is my simple interpretation of how ECO-NEEM works – it seriously does reduce aphid infestation!
Neither ECO-OIL nor ECO-NEEM will impact on beneficial insects or bees – in fact, HIPPO enhanced ECO-OIL has elements which attract, yes, ATTRACT all the good insects to your garden!

Amazing Australian research and development by OCP (Organic Crop Protectants) for the benefit of OUR environment – please use these products in a regular, monthly spray program to be sure you enjoy trouble-free, happy roses flowering in your garden!

Q.  Why do milking stools only have three legs?  A.  Because the cows got the udder.

We are almost flowering here and one of our earliest flowering roses is the most glorious GOLDEN CELEBRATION – the fragrance oozes from this gorgeous, petal-filled bloom which nods from the clambering canes continually throughout the season … this wonderful rose is also a delightful gift for anything relative to a 50th celebration!

Enjoy all the beauty in your garden this week – see you at Melbourne Showgrounds or at Clonbinane soon … cheers from Graham, Diana & precious guard-dog Mooi …

ROSE RAMBLER 1.10.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 1.10.2015

Hello dear rose friends – a pinch and punch for another whole new month – Happy Birthday to my beautiful little sister Sandy today – since she’s not settled in her new home yet, I may not send her a GIFT ROSE  but if I did, I would have sent MANY HAPPY RETURNS

or maybe CLOSE TO YOU

but I might send her either one because most roses can be grown in a large tub and she can take the rose with her when she creates a garden at her new home!  If you have an event which offers you an opportunity to send a gorgeous, long-lasting rose bush, take a look at for a lovely selection of rose varieties to inspire you.

All roses will grow to their maximum size when planted in the soil but when grown in planters, their size will be naturally limited by the size of the pot but they are ‘transportable’ and very versatile as they can be moved around the deck, even inside to shaded areas for an event and when they’ve done their job in a pot, plant them into their final resting place in your garden.

If you have no option but to plant roses into tubs, consider removing the base of the tub (or poking very large holes into it) so that the roots can move right down into the soil below a paved area or whatever surface they’re placed on – up in the nursery we have arches with climbers and clematis so we’ve removed the base of the tub to allow the roots access to soil and moisture – the growth has been amazing since we did this!


It’s time to get your irrigation system in order – check all drippers/sprays and clear them of insects, etc. because it’s time to start watering your garden – we use ‘shrubblers’ where the water output can be regulated according to different plants requirements

Q. What has a sweet taste and flies?   A.  A lollipop left out in the garden. 

Water availability at root level, especially now, determines the stem length and number of flowers throughout the coming months.  On rose bushes, the miracle of plant growth is amazing at this time of year and one weekly soaking of 20 litres per plant during October will ensure solid root development resulting in prolific flowering and strong healthy bushes which will withstand the pressures of whatever weather conditions prevail.


These curly leaves are an indication of mildew – you MUST take action immediately by spraying with eco-rose/eco-fungicide (same product) when you see this happening on your roses …

Keep your monthly organic rose management program happening – it’s easy, effective, really economical and guarantees healthy, robust, free-flowering HAPPY roses throughout the season!

Q.  What’s brown and sits on a piano stool?  A.  Beethoven’s LAST MOVEMENT! 

Because of the amazing growth occurring with flower buds developing, fertilize NOW (if you haven’t already) and apply seaweed solution regularly to increase thickness of the cell wall of your plants to withstand all weather variables – apply every fortnight all over the leaves to ensure your roses enjoy up to 5 degrees frost and heat tolerance!

Hope your garden is well mulched as we head into the warmer weather – planting seedlings of NASTURTIUM which add a lovely colourful ground-covering mass will act as a ‘double-whammy’ because the plant secretes a mustard oil which many insects find attractive and will seek out – particularly cabbage moth.  Alternatively, the flowers repel aphids and cucumber beetle; planted around apple trees is advantageous to repel codling moth… plant Nasturtium after frosts just as you would tomato seedlings.  It’s all happening now … Gra




Be sure to attend this spectacular gardening event at the Melbourne Showgrounds which is sure to be a most entertaining event for the whole family!  Come visit with Diana at Stand D30 where she will happily sign a copy of her book ALL ABOUT ROSES and show you how really works.  See you there!

If you’re not planning to come to the Horticultural and Garden Festival in Melbourne next weekend, then maybe you’ll take a drive to CHARLTON and support this wonderful community who experienced devastating floods in September, 2010 and again in January, 2011 – you will understand the tenacity of country folk and enjoy their hospitality when you visit Charlton!

~ Graham, Diana and our darling Mooi who loves cuddles with our visitors!

ROSE RAMBLER … 24.9.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 24.9.2015


ROSE RAMBLER 24.9.2015

Hello dear rose friends … without meaning to, we had you all tricked into re-reading the R/R last week!  For me it was the funniest joke yet as my email inbox was crammed with notifications like this one:  “Aaah OMG, No Joke?  I’m having withdrawal symptoms – Kathy. The lack of Gra’s inimitably silly jokes caused a real flurry and he’s ready to give me the sack – “bring it on”, I say because then I’ll go on a holiday but then Gra would want to come on holidays with me so I would be immediately reinstated I guess?

Here are the jokes missing from last week … This one is to remind you that school holidays are here a-g-a-i-n and we all need to be mindful … Q.  Why are adults always complaining?  A.  Because they are ‘groan-ups’! 

Here are the jokes missing from last week … This one is to remind you that school holidays are here a-g-a-i-n and we all need to be mindful … Q.  Why are adults always complaining?  A.  Because they are ‘groan-ups’! 


“I am very impressed not only with the quality of the plants but the way you prepare them for travel, wrapping in damp newspaper and a little soil, it makes such a difference and the extra information is fabulous, I photocopied it and passed it on to a fellow rose lover and highly recommended your farm to my friends and family even “old Grumpy’ (husband} was impressed and that’s no mean feat.  Thank you again for your kindnesses and your thoughtfulness and most of All your Beautiful plants .. 
Yours sincerely, Gillian 

If you still have spaces in your garden where you wish to plant roses, go to and ORDER NOW … all prices will increase next week when we cease sending bare-rooted roses!

Q.  Why did the runner wear ripple-soled shoes?  A.  To give the ants a 50:50 chance.

Exactly why we prefer to use a fork rather than a shovel when digging holes in the garden because you slice through worms with a shovel while a garden fork gives worms a really good chance of survival!!!



Worms play a critical role in improving and enriching soil.  In the soil their tunnel networks create air channels, optimizing aeration and provide conduits for watering the soil.  You may say:  “I don’t see many worms in my garden!”  Well, worms need moisture to be able to track through soil so, in our hot climate, worms will go deeper into soil where it’s cool and moist – then you may not see them in the upper soil level, hence, the importance of mulch!!!

Earthworms live an inter-linked life with fungi, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes and soil micro-organisms (all good critters!) and scientists say there are still over 60,000 soil microbes to be discovered – WOW!  How many worms and microbes are in this handful of compost?

Worms function as premium plant-residue shredders – they turn and churn and their castings (poo and wee) is a great source of plant nutrient.  An abundant worm population will produce a ton of castings per acre per year in optimum conditions.

How do you, a ‘back-yard gardener’ encourage earthworms in your garden?

  • Continually mulch the soil
  • Limit using toxic pesticides and herbicides – any chemicals!
  • Only dig soil where planting – don’t dig entire garden beds
  • Use only organic fertilizer – compost, animal manures will be a feast for worms
  • Walk on pads of mulch to reduce soil compaction
  • Be thankful for the natural work worms do in our environment and keeping our plants happy!

Q.  What happens if you eat yeast and shoe polish?  A.  Every morning you will rise and shine!

Here’s a tip:  Worms LOVE boiled pumpkin so grow plenty of pumpkins this season and when harvested, boil them up and spread the mash pulp over the soil, cover with mulch to keep it damp.  Don’t forget, if mildew is present on the leaves of your pumpkins, spray with Eco-fungicide/Eco-rose (same product, different label) so that you are sure to harvest organically approved pumpkin to feed the worms who will flourish in your garden!

Q.  What kind of a person is fed up with people?  A.  A cannibal. 

Here’s one of my choice roses to consider if you want some amazing colour in your garden this season … ASHRAM is a stunning bright orange, perfect blooms for a vase, light fragrance and can be grown in a pot too …


Many potted plants succumb due to lack of adequate watering and since many more gardeners are growing roses in large tubs due to smaller garden spaces, it is imperative to know HOW to water potted plants …

It is so, so important to water potted plants adequately and you do it by watering over the WHOLE upper surface of the pot and not just at the neck of a plant since roots are spread over the entire space within the pot!

Always leave a good 3-5 cms of space below the rim when planting into large tubs allowing space for a light layer of milled lucerne mulch and then water over the ENTIRE mulch surface, filling the pot to the rim at EVERY watering to be sure water travels throughout the potting mix and reaching all the roots which will store water.

Watering pots might seem a ‘chore’ – see it as time to be at one with nature, quiet, peaceful time but please don’t water your rose pots after work in the evening with a glass of your favourite beverage in one hand, hose in the other – get up a little earlier and be sure to conduct your watering program to the morning with your cuppa in hand!   Wet foliage overnight will definitely encourage disease issues on roses!!!

Have a beaut week in your garden with kids in tow … we’re getting organised for the Festival at Melbourne Showgrounds 9-11 October – be sure and put the dates in your calendar because Diana is on the speaking program – don’t miss her presentations at what we believe will be a spectacular spring event …

~ Graham, Diana & Mooi