Hello dear rose friends when right now, I’m enjoying my first ever visit to ladies Oaks Day at Flemington as part of the Melbourne Cup Racing Carnival. You can be sure I’m way more interested in visiting the rose gardens than wagering any $’s on a horse – I’ll pop a few bucks on something that perhaps has a rose name and I’ll let you know next week how I fared!


Please accept my apology for the reference to ‘indigenous’ people as I have the greatest respect for all Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.


Good afternoon, Well I think that this is their third year and this is the start of the KNOCKOUTroses blooming season until I prune them say late July. Last season they grew very tall as well as wide. They grew to nearly 2 metres. I pruned a good 1200mm plus off them this year to try and get them to a manageable height, but I think they will just do their own thing again. They were planted approx. 900mm apart and it is a thick as a box hedge.  I need not have had barbed wired installed on the top of the fence cause if anyone wanted to try and climb over they would be ripped to threads….as are my arms, even with protective clothing!

My industrial block is known as the one with the red roses. LOL.  Just around the corner from me is Landmark and their colours are Green and Gold. Well they have about fifty GOLD BUNNY roses around their shop. That also is spectacular, although they do not grow quite as thick.

I bought two ALI BABA climbing roses from you earlier, one is ok, sadly the other has passed on. I don’t think it liked the continual minus 5s, 6s and 7s. Although I am on a hill. I have also lost three roses (well established) at home. But I live down low where there is always a frost. (Yes, they did get fortnightly applications of Eco Seaweed)

The season ahead is predicted to be more harsh than normal. Well our winter was abysmal with morning after morning of severe frosts….Drought. Our season has been cruel on our poor farmers with grain yields to be predicted at 95% down on average. Most farmers have cut their crops into hay, or in cases where the crops did not reach a cuttable height, spayed with herbicide.  I do not think that city dwellers really have any concept of how dire it is for the rural communities.

At least roses will handle the harsh conditions. May not end up with their best flowers, but will generally bounce back. This is my update. Hope you are all well. Kind regards … Merryl

PIERRE DE RONSARD in Merryl’s garden in drought affected Tamora, NSW … and another great success story from Tamworth…

Hi  Gra … At the end of August I sent you photos of my two feral two-year-old MUTABILIS roses and asked for advice.  So here is a photo or two………….had to send you also my two feral two-year-old CREPUSCULE.  This is a small courtyard in a Retirement Estate in Tamworth.  Unfortunately it is hot today so the CREPUSCULE will be feeling it as it is west facing.  The MUTABILIS seem too thrive in heat.

I cut the MUTABILIS back to the fence and down quite a bit as you suggested.  It has grown at least a metre in the few weeks. You were spot on, thank you. Also for the surprise 600g ECO-SEAWEED (not 100g as per my order!) with my secateurs last week. (We’re glad you’re using ECO-SEAWEED for drought-affected garden – it will definitely make a difference … Gra) Kind regards to you all, especially that little black furry one, MOOI.
– Heather

Policeman:  Did you know that you were driving at 120kph?  Driver:  Impossible. I’ve only been in the car for five minutes!



We like to list this rose by its ‘proper’ name so if you happen to have been looking for this beauty as MUTABILIS, now you know why you might not have found it! Such a magnificent rose in ALL climates and conditions – needs good care to be established but once established … WOW!

“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read
the description in the catalogue: “no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.” –   
Eleanor Roosevelt


Do come to Werribee this weekend – the State Rose Garden is spectacular and entry with ample parking is FREE! Diana’s stage presentations with Kim Syrus are at the following times:




Enjoy the roses all around you …
cheers from the team at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane.


Hello dear rose friends as we offer a pinch and a punch for a whole new month!  Oh, and isn’t the season spectacular?  Huge rose blooms, loads of colour and gloriously healthy lush foliage … it doesn’t get any better!


Here is a series of emails which we can all learn from:  don’t forget to organise a visit to Silkies Rose Farm this Saturday for my composting demo!

Q. What do you get if you cross a monster with a dozen eggs?  
A. A very hairy omelette – YUK!

“Hi Diana, Can you please help identify this bug which is on my beautiful Gold Bunny.  I have a couple of lady birds as well.  Have used Eco spray.   Regards – Jan”

We forwarded Jan’s pic to Steve at OCP and how good is this response:

Morning Di … Good news. These are the larvae of ladybeetles! Nothing to worry about 🙂  Steve 


We thought there was a possible solution with Citronella spray, Monica in suburban Melbourne ecstatically emailed to say her CREPUSCULE climber had shoots after just one application.  Within two days, the possums decided she was trying to kid them so they ate all the new foliage!

After a to-and-fro conversation, Monica sent this pic and email:

One solution might be to invite our indigenous friends for a hunting party. It takes a few suburban back yards worth of possums to make one traditional cloak!




Dear Diana and Graham.  A few weeks ago you were discussing ideas for long lasting and financially viable rose labels. One lady had a great idea using animal ear labels. I didn’t have access to these, so attached are pictures of some metal stamps I bought for $45 (a bit of an outlay to start with).   I used these to stamp into metal flashing. (Again, if you have to buy it, that’s a bit of an outlay of something like $20-$30) but I’m set for a life-long of labelling my garden plants with no more expense – forever!   Hope this might be of some help to others.  Kathleen




Hello Graham and Diana, A couple of years ago I let you know that I was going to try Epsom salts on my LA JAGO after reading a recommendation for it in one of your newsletters, as it had very blotchy, yellowish foliage.  You said LA JAGO had yellowish leaves normally and you asked me to let you know how the Epsom salts went.  Well I think it has made a big difference. Here’s a photo I took yesterday morning.

I didn’t get around to pruning all of my roses this year, so I will probably be dealing with a bit of black spot due to how bushy they are, but I’ll give them trims over the summer if they get particularly bad, otherwise I’ll just let them do their own thing this year.

So, why did EPSOM SALTS make a difference to this rose?  Here is some information I extracted from the internet which you can also follow through with if you’re interested:

Epsom Salt Uses: GARDENING 

Fertilize your houseplants: Most plants need nutrients like magnesium and sulfur to stay in good health, and Epsom salt makes the primary nutrients in most plant foods (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) more effective. Sprinkle Epsom salt once weekly to help nourish your houseplants, flowers, and vegetables.

Keep your lawn green: Magnesium sulfate crystals, when added to the soil, provide vital nutrients that help prevent yellowing leaves and the loss of green color (magnesium is an essential element in the chlorophyll molecule) in plants. Add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt to a gallon of water and sprinkle on your lawn to keep the grass healthy and green.

Insecticide spray: Use Epsom salts on your lawn and in your garden to safely and naturally get rid of plant pests.

Read on for more information on gardening with Epsom salt.

Hi Graham, Just had to drop you a quick line just to say thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion. I always look forward to your emails and this one was definitely a juicy one, I learnt a lot!  Thanks again – Cheers, Shae

Closing with a joke:
Q.  What do you call a monster who eats his father’s sister?  A.  An aunt-eater … 

So, please can you all rally and send Gra some new jokes for this Rose Rambler as I think he’s running out of puff!  Diana


WINNER AT THE NATIONAL ROSE TRIAL GROUND AWARDS – BRUCE BRUNDRETTwith two varieties which are yet to be named.  They will be released in 2019-2020 so keep an eye on this Australian rose breeder who grows amazingly healthy roses which are extremely free flowering and disease tolerant!

Hope you back a winner in the Melbourne Cup next Tuesday and if you’re going to Oaks Day on Thursday, look out for Diana with her friends.

Enjoy all the glory this magnificent rose season is affording us … Graham, Diana, Ben, Tova and MOOI …


Hello dear rose friends as we arrive home from a most entertaining evening with all our very special friends in the rose industry – rose growers, rose breeders, rose lovers who exhibit their roses in the National Trial Grounds in Adelaide Botanical Gardens where just three years ago, GRA’S BLUE won two very prestigious awards – MOST FRAGRANT ROSE OF THE 2015 TRIALS along with BRONZE MEDAL overall … Graham’s magnificent rose continues to flourish in gardens everywhere!

This year the winners will be advised as soon as possible.


FIRST ROSE TO FLOWER AT CLONBINANE after a winter of most unrelenting and savage frosts which caused masses of damage in our beautiful rose gardens.

This year the winner is THE OPPORTUNITY ROSE … closely followed by MY YELLOW (both Australian-bred roses by Bruce Brundrett – royalty payments to Rotary Foundation projects) and UNCONVENTIONAL LADY (Kordes, Germany – royalty payment to fund-raising World Rose Convention in Adelaide, 2021).

All the above roses are extremely grand performers in our gardens so I highly recommend them in all weather conditions!

It’s a picture here now at Clonbinane – green, green grass and the trees all leafed up; the roses starting to flower – my most favourite time of year!

Q: Why is the sky so high? A: So birds won’t bump their heads.

If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to fertilize all the roses. No, I don’t like to eat the same food all the time so perhaps with our roses, we could give them a bit of variety too – quality NPK fertilizer which includes trace elements will ensure the roses produce abundant flowers on large and healthy bushes well into summer.

To ensure the bushes retain healthy foliage, douse them at least monthly with ECO- SEAWEED solution to which you can add liquid FERTILIZER – REMEMBER: SEAWEED SOLUTION IS NOT FERTILIZER!

Liquid fertilizer might be ECO-AMINOGRO or perhaps, if you use SEASOL, their complimentary liquid fertilizer is POWERFEED – add the seaweed and fertilizer and spray liberally over all garden beds whilst they’re producing so abundantly! If you make your own compost, place handfuls around rose bushes and be sure to place a layer of mulch over this to ensure valuable microbes are not subjected to hot sun which would kill them.

Manure teas add extremely vital nutrients and microbes to keep soil robust – in a large drum or wheelie bin, suspend a hessian bag part filled with any animal manure and weeds;

let it soak for a few weeks – yes, it will stink! When you think the brew is ready, dilute it by 1 litre to a 9 litre watering can and pour it around your plants – they love it!

These are all different ways of ensuring you adequately feed the soil in your garden which in turn provides the flowers and fruits – yummy veggies!

If you need more assistance or advice with COMPOST MAKING then come along to SILKIES ROSE FARM, CLONBINANE on SATURDAY, 3RD NOVEMBER AT 1.30pm and I’ll show you all the different methods I employ to feed the soil – including an inkling of how and why I use biodynamic sprays and their effects in our garden!

It’s all happening … stay calm, enjoy all the beauty around you and have a giggle:

Q: Why did they cross a homing pigeon with a parrot? A: So if it got lost, it could ask for directions home!



Diana will be available to sign copies of her book ALL ABOUT ROSES and she’ll have some roses and products available for sale. During the morning Diana will do a stage presentation and talk about her favourite topic: ALL ABOUT ROSES.


Another date for your diary:

DIANA will do two MAIN STAGE presentations with host Kim Syrus at Werribee State Rose Garden: Saturday the 10th November at 2.30pm for 30 minutes and on Sunday the 11th November at 11.05am for 25 minutes presentation.

Have a lovely week in your garden … Cheers from the team at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane where we are now busy packing potted roses for you to enjoy in your garden – go to to select another beauty for your garden or as a reminder of your loving thoughts when it really matters, select a GIFT ROSE at



Hello dear rose friends – our roses are not in full flower here yet but the camellias, pansy borders, late daffodils and some tulips are a delight! It’s magnificent to see all the variables in rose foliage which is worth considering when you are planning a massed planting of rose bushes in future!

Gertrude Jekyll is a very famous garden designer who wrote:

If you take any flower you please and look it over and turn it about and smell it and feel it and try to find out all its little secrets, not of flower only but of leaf, bud and stem as well, you will discover many wonderful things. This is how you make friends with plants, and very good friends you will find them to the end of our lives.

This portrait of GERTRUDE JEKYLL reminds me of my dear paternal Oma who visited Australia from Holland when I was 11 years old; she was also a grand woman!

Here is a picture of the magnificent David Austin rose which was named to honour GERTRUDE JEKYLL … one of the most perfectly formed and most highly fragrant of all the David Austin roses; can be grown as a large shrub or climber to 3 metres. Awesome!


Once again, my garble is inspired by emails from customers:

The roses arrived today – once again in perfect condition. I just have a quick question as I am planting them into big pots. Your advice on the care slip enclosed said to water them every day when in pots, but wouldn’t this make the roses too wet? I thought they liked to dry out a bit. Cheers … Karen

My response: Hi Karen … in pots, it’s dicky! Right now, while it’s still a bit cool at night, you might get away with NOT daily watering however, when ‘true summer’ arrives, you MUST water EVERY DAY … and thoroughly soak the potting media!!! There are more failings with potted roses due to incorrect watering and I wish we had glass pots so gardeners could see what’s going on in the pot!

Roots are spread out throughout the whole area of the pot so it is imperative to fill the pot over the entire surface to ensure water drips down – NOT JUST THE MIDDLE OF THE POT – but over and down through every particle of the potting media!

Did you know that once pine bark dries out, it’s one of the most difficult mediums to re-wet! Hence, using a wetting agent in pots is very handy to ensure the potting medium stays damp AT ALL TIMES, especially in hot weather!

Roses purchased from SILKIES ROSE FARM / ROSESALESONLINE are planted in a potting medium containing COIR FIBRE which is one of the MOST EASY-TO-WET potting mediums! Without coir-fibre in our potting medium, roses which are sometimes delayed in transit would quickly perish! We have known roses to be lost in transit for more than 28 days and still arrive ALIVE – no, not in great condition but definitely alive because coir fibre retains moisture over long periods!

When selecting quality potting media to maintain roses in pots, check to see if the mix contains COIR FIBRE to guarantee your roses will be adequately moist throughout their life in a pot – provided you ALWAYS WATER OVER THE ENTIRE SURFACE OF EACH POT EVERY DAY DURING HOT WEATHER!

There you have it – the rules on watering potted roses – oh, I forgot to say: NEVER WATER ROSES IN THE EVENING – foliage will stay wet overnight and cause issues with mildew! If you absolutely MUST WATER a rose in the evening – DON’T WATER FOLIAGE!

Cheers – Graham …

Q: What has two legs and two tails? A: A lizard flipping a coin.


Hello, I’m delighted to tell you my 22 new roses are all growing well. I do however, have a problem with aphids. I have used your products twice now 4 days apart. (Eco rose, Eco oil and seaweed). The leaves have blackened on the tips and in some cases all of the new leaf. Both ST CECELIA’S seem most affected. But worse, there is still bugs on the plants!!! I know the information says to reapply a third time a week later but I thought I’d ask you first. Am I doing it correctly or should I adjust the ratio in my spray mix? Thanks in anticipation. Sally

Hi Sally … It’s getting warm now … and, you’re NOT ALONE … there is a devastating outbreak of aphids across this state if not around Australia!!!

I have also done exactly as you – sprayed 3 days apart but still have massive infestations – we are however, breaking the breeding cycle – we can’t see it but it will definitely appear to reduce within the next 10 days … on one plant we counted 16 BIG FAT LADYBIRDS and they’re doing a most amazing job up in the nursery – when we aren’t there, blue wrens and other finches are having an absolute party.

Stay with what you’re doing except REDUCE THE ECO-OIL TO PERHAPS JUST 100ML : 50LITRES WATER … this ratio is what I use in hot weather – my sprayer is 50litres. You can break that down according to the size of your sprayer. Please keep us posted … Cheers

Q: What do you get when you cross a rooster with a steer? A: A cock and bull story!


Amanda reached out for assistance when her DA roses hadn’t flowered after three years – this is very important reading !!!


Hello! I’ just like to ask a quick question regarding the performance of a few David Austin roses in my SE Qld garden — 2 varieties have never flowered after 3 seasons despite good leaf growth and bush size (Lady of Shallot and Teasing Georgia), and a few others have had a rather poor show (Jude the Obscure, Lady of Megginch, Grace — none especially vigorous). The only two that have had good flowering are Munstead Wood and Boscobel. This, while several Kordes and Delbard roses have performed well around them. The soil is clay amended with mushroom compost supplemented with Life Force Gold fertiliser. Most in full sun, a few with at least 5hrs sun a day.

My question is: Do David Austin varieties need any special conditions to flower well in the Brisbane area? By the way, I’ve purchased several roses from you over the last few years, and have never been disappointed in the quality of plants sent!

Really appreciate any thoughts to help me get those Austins to flower! Thanks very much, Amanda


MY RESPONSE TO AMANDA … Hello Amanda … this is quite bizarre as all the roses you mention are prolific flowering under normal circumstances which leaves me to ask: How much sun, really? I am always dubious to sell roses to people who promise ‘approximately’ 5 hours of sun … due the variable slant of the sun in our gardens throughout the seasons, this 5 hours is always changing and I’m thinking that the reason your roses aren’t flowering is because they just don’t get enough sun???

You said: “The soil is clay amended with mushroom compost …” have you ever thought to do a pH test of this soil as MUSHROOM COMPOST IS VERY ALKALINE and if your soil is alkaline, the roses will struggle to flower – please check this!

Also, what is the Nitrogen content of LIFE FORCE GOLD FERTILIZER? If you are pushing the roses with a chemical fertilizer with high nitrogen ratio, the roses will produce beautiful lush foliage at the expense of flowering – we use and recommend fertilizer which has a balanced ratio N:P:K with added trace elements – there is no point me giving the name/brand of our fertilizer since I cannot supply same for you – each of our customers is recommended to go and research what fertilizer is available at their local nursery/garden centre and be advised what is best! We definitely recommend the most ORGANIC FERTILIZER available locally – quality organic fertilizer will have a Nitrogen ratio of around 5 or less!

Please do respond and let me know what products you are using in the garden – together we’ll get this sorted so that your lovely David Austin roses produce masses of flowers as we expect they should! Talk soon …


Hi Graham, It’s obvious to see you’re passionate about what you do! Thank you for your detailed reply.

I feel like a goose! I had no idea mushroom compost was so alkaline. I went out this morning and bought a pH kit — tested 5 different spots around the rose gardens and you are correct! The readings were between 7.5 and 9! With the bright purple 9 being right next to my pitiful Lady of Megginch rose. I have applied an initial treatment of sulfur (used the Yates liquid) and will follow their instructions to re-test in a month.

As for the few roses of the bunch that have lower sunshine levels, I will definitely move them and/or cut back sun obscuring bushes. I’m also looking at various organic fertilisers to find one definitely low in the N ratio. And next time I’m planning on adding organic material to the beds I’ll stick with more neutral compost options!

Again, I really appreciate your reply. Also, I wanted to point out that my mother in America orders roses through your website as gifts for me in Brisbane. It’s lovely for her to be able to do that, so thank you for making payment options for overseas buyers easy.

I’ll keep you updated! All the best, Amanda


So there you have it, a massive learning experience – thanks Amanda for sharing! Roses flourish in a pH of 5.5 – 6.5 so when you add home-made compost, ash from your fire, or soil from your local garden centre, it’s worth taking time to check the pH of what you’re adding to the soil. As a general rule, a little bit of everything is OK – a whole lot of something can cause issues as Amanda found out and is now challenged to correct the soil pH in order for her roses to be their absolute best!

Enjoy all the glories of this magnificent spring weather in your garden …


Hello dear rose friends as we move to the middle of spring and here in Victoria rose gardens are starting to ‘show their colours’ … along with the impending madness of the Spring Racing Carnival and Melbourne Cup Day – beauty all around us in our world of roses!

Q: What person do you take your hat off to? A: A barber.


Hello Diana … Many thanks for the safe and efficient delivery of MOTHER’S LOVE to my friend Elissa. She was absolutely delighted and touched with the GIFT ROSE. It spoke more eloquently than any words I could express on the loss of her Mother. My heartfelt thanks! Kind regards – Annette


The conversations in last week’s RR incurred lots of emails which I would like to share …

Hi Graham – I was reading your article regarding the possums/parrots. I have suffered from possum magic for a long time: today you see it, tomorrow you don’t. I have tried many things over the years with limited or no success until I leaned an outdoor candle against the orange tree and left it there only to find nothing ate the oranges … unusual!

Long story short, I ran citronella oil along wooden fences where the petunias and rose tips were being eaten off and success, the plants flourished. I put citronella tea candles around low foliage plants and again the plants have survived. Flushed with success, I sprayed citronella oil at the base of woody tree trunks and along rock edging. This was a couple of months ago and I haven’t reapplied it, but will soon. It’s very dry and the possums are hungry, but there are some plants I’m less precious about that they can have a nibble on. Hope this helps, it’s worked for me so far. Cheers – Vicki


Or perhaps take this advice …

Hi …A friend who has a small suburban garden gets hair from the hairdresser (the sweepings from the floor), puts the hair in bags and hangs them around the fence. Apparently possums don’t like it perhaps it has the human smell or they think it is a cat/dog. Worth a try for those who have pesky possums. – Jennifer


And another possible solution is the use of this implement:

Hi Graham, I have finally solved my possum problem with the purchase of “Animal Away”, available from Diggers.

I have a large raised vegetable garden which I needed to net due to the feeding possums, but since installing Animal Away (ultrasonic sound and flashing light using a 9V battery) I have been able to completely uncover the garden and all is growing well.

My magnolia finally has leaves on the top of the tallest branches for the first time in 4 years, thanks to this device. Hope this helps many who are competing with possums in their gardens. Regards, Kathryn


Perhaps Judy at Kyneton would do well to install a few of those ANIMAL AWAY gadgets at strategic points in her garden to scare the cockies?

Started off picking daffodils, then moved onto breakfast on the newly planted camellias… the one good thing about having the frost burn all the new growth is that cockies do not like crisp brown rose shoots! – Judy

As far as solving her problems with burned new rose shoots due to repetitive severe frosts, I cannot help – we are now trimming all the burned shoots on the potted roses in the nursery and deep soaking all the garden beds – fingers crossed, the roses in our gardens will recover??? It’s definitely been a tough year for roses in extreme cold zones here in Victoria!


Then the discussion moved to APHIDS

Hello, I would like to share my experience with aphids. I used to wash them off with biodegradable soup (soap? ed.) till I saw lady bugs eating them. I realized the lady bugs could only augment if I stop spraying this soup. Sure enough the next year on the same plant there were many more lady bugs and there were lot less aphids. If a situation seems to need more help I remove the aphids with cloves (gloves ?) by hand. This gentle action, considering nature’s course, goes a long way. Meaning nature is so complex and does take care of things, if we let it. By introducing chemicals we might get an immediate effect, but the long term damage is going to hunt (haunt ?) us.

For 12 years I’ve applied and studied biodynamic farming and my observation confirms my statements. Thank you for your newsletter. I’m in Italy! – Claudia


And another …

Thank-you for pointing out that aphids are food for the birds. I have often lamented when discovering aphids and been paranoid that they will infest all of my roses. I have about 40 rose bushes in my garden. I don’t like to use insecticides, as I don’t want to kill the good guys.

But we have plenty of little birds; wrens, finches, swallows and others. So now I will be less stressed when I see aphids, as I know my army of little birds are enjoying them. Kind Regards, Sarah


And another …

Hi, I took this phone shot this morn when out doing the early check…a close up of the nasties on the rose…squish! Cheers, Chris

Yes, the pic shows aphids as we all know them – however, the winged insect is an adult aphid who has flown in for a party because there wasn’t too much happening at his place!!! How clever is Mother Nature?

Here’s what we would prefer to see: HOVERFLIES – are true predators of aphids – they commence consuming aphids from larval stage.

Definitely the adult HOVERFLIES should be welcomed in your garden along with LADYBIRDS who breed voraciously and their bubs start eating aphids immediately!

Adult Hoverfly

Please know that you can email me about any issues you have in your rose garden – I’m sure that in a combined effort, we will source a solution and have fun along the way! I only have space to tell you about one of my most favourite, highly fragrant roses so I’ll share more next week … cheers – Gra

Q: What happens when you kiss a clock? A: Your lips stick.


Yes, this rose can be one of your best friends with strong, sweet fragrance, vibrant blooms of deep, hot pink on a glorious, upright bush to at least 1.8 metres tall – it’s nice that the royalty payment of this rose goes to RSPCA – every garden should have at least one of these magnificent roses!

Cheers from us all at Silkies Rose Farm, CLONBINANE … even MOOI was thrilled about the sunny day last week when we all got out weeding garden beds … not that she pays her way with assistance but we all enjoyed seeing her selected ‘lounge’ was on a clump of rock cyclamen foliage surrounded by pansies and roses … classy lady is our MOOI!



Hello dear rose friends as we enjoy early morning starts to each day – this of course will change when daylight saving commences on this coming Saturday night!


Continuing on from last week, I’ve had this conversation about the picture of mulch too close around roses …

Haha! I see you’ve used my sunburnt VALENCIA picture as an example of putting mulch too close to the plant …I did eventually pull it back, but I had read that pushing mulch over the crown and more or less burying it could stimulate basal shoots, and this did seem to work, there are now 5 strong basal canes. (The white on the leaves is copper spray for black spot). Heaps of buds too. Robynne

Hi Robynne … I don’t remember this earlier discussion with you – I selected the pic from files when I was talking about mulch and had obviously stored your pic in there! It’s an interesting dilemma – some say you shouldn’t cover the crown, others say it works – we do both and find different results probably relative to weather / soil conditions; also the type of mulch can impact too!

I have had wheaten straw down over the crown and it burned water shoot stems – the straw filled with water which literally boiled in really hot weather and when this was close to new shoots, they burned but then eventually recovered.

Great that we all consider these issues when down and dirty in the rose garden – some years, there won’t be an issue with whichever way you mulch, another year / season, things might go pear-shaped and temporarily compromise healthy growth and flowering. I guess that’s what gardening is all about!

Thank you for sharing pics of your recovered VALENCIA – such a lovely rose … cheers – DIANA



I heard somebody say this recently: “Now is the time of year when the bulbs you forgot to plant last autumn will fail to bloom!” Thankfully, I planted hundreds of daffodils and we have enjoyed a most stunning display.

I JUMPED TO THE CONCLUSION … this HAD to be possums …

Many thanks for lots of information on roses but I have a massive challenge as our roses have all had their new rose tips eaten off. (no Roses). They are outside our front fence otherwise I could net. We have a couple of owls on fence (useless) much to passing walkers delight. The Owls bring a laugh. Am I too paranoid? Thanks Graham and Diana. Judy from Croydon

My response:
If the possums continue to eat the new shoots off the roses, the roses will definitely die! You must call the POSSUM MAN to remove the possums I guess? I am at my wits end with trying to solve this issue for gardeners and gardens in Melbourne – it is a potential disaster as so many of my customers have thrown their arms in the air and decided to let the possums have their garden – it’s all too costly and way too frustrating to have their plants eaten by these pests! Sorry I cannot be more helpful! Cheers – Graham

Then Judy wrote:

Sorry Graham . It’s the parrots!!! Help …. Judy

So I wrote back laughing:
Ooooops! Ok … tie HOLOGRAPHIC / REFLECTIVE TAPE to the stems of the branches and be up earlier to shoo them off your roses … a pretend snake would definitely entertain the walkers who pass your fence but you might have the police after you too … how funny would that be!

Headline in the Daily Paper:

WALKER HAS HEART ATTACK AFTER SEEING PRETEND SNAKE ON ROSES … oh, goodness, now my imagination has really gone off! Laughing!!!

Cheers – Gra

This is a LESSON IN LAUGHTER – gardening should be fun at all times and even when you despair at a situation, see the bright side, look for a positive solution and then share the joy of gardening – my reason for posting a silly joke each week!

Q: What’s a gardener? A: A bloke who calls a spade a spade until he falls over one!

There is a serious side to rose gardening too … New foliage is very soft and lush which makes it susceptible to insects who will take advantage of these conditions … see the aphid cycle on this magnificent photo Diana took and which Steve at (Organic Crop Protectants) has labelled so you now know more about aphids and their cycle …

  • White stuff – these are the shells of the aphids which they’ve shed when moulting
  • Winged insect – these are winged adult aphids and not lacewings. When aphids enter their final moulting stage they can emerge as either winged or wingless adults. They produce wings if the area they’re in is already heavily populated with aphids so it allow them to emerge with wings and fly off to find a new feeding ground which is less crowded. Clever trick really.
  • Brown blobs – these are aphids which have had a parasitoid wasp inject an egg into them. When the juvenile wasp hatches it feeds on the insides of the aphid before pupating and then cutting a tiny hold in the shell of the aphid and emerging as an adult wasp. During the whole process the aphid swells up, turns brown and dies.

If you have good numbers of birds in your garden, consider the aphids as a seasonal feast for birds feeding their chicks! Don’t be too quick reaching for sprays to eliminate the aphids if you feel they’re under control … ECO OIL is very effective in controlling the immature/larval-stage aphids which of course, in time, interrupts the breeding cycle! There is no hard and fast KILL with organic rose management so observation is critical – gentle, gentle works and remember, roses recover from all kinds of harsh events without interference!


In case you’ve lost the recipe:

To 10 litres of water add:

  • 1 SCOOP ECO SEAWEED (or whatever seaweed at recommended rate)
  • ¼ CUP ECO ROSE (ECO-FUNGICIDE – same product!)

Mix ALL TOGETHER and shake vigorously to be sure products are well blended then pour over or spray to run-off – NEVER USE THIS SPRAY IN WEATHER OVER 28 DEGREES! Yes, you can spray in the evening if it suits better but plants are very receptive in the cool, early morning conditions which is most ideal!

ALL PRODUCTS for this spray management are available at


Hello all at Silkies: I am enjoying reading your Rose Rambler, lots of advice on good gardening practises.

Just wanted to let you know that Charlton is having their Open Gardens on Sunday the 14th of October. Also the Rotary Club will be having the Annual Art Show, some of your clients might like to know about the event.

Regards Sue, 0407 140 336

Enjoy the gloriously delightful spring weather …
cheers from all of us here at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane


Hello dear rose friends from sunny Clonbinane where most mornings we wake up to see frost … STILL! There’s been minor damage … see below for more information on how to manage any frost affected plants in your garden…


Q: What do baby crabs wear? A: Nippy-nappies.


is seriously one of the most important tasks you can undertake NOW while there is still good soil moisture deep down in the sub-soil/clay. To conserve this moisture and have your roses send their roots way down and anchor themselves for years of robust, healthy growing and flowering, I recommend you place a good thick layer of mulch around the entire garden bed.

Notice when we mulch here, there is a ‘biscuit’ of pea straw along the border – this stops birds flicking loose straw out of the bed and we generally place a thick layer of damp newspaper under the ‘biscuit’ to inhibit weeds coming into the garden bed!

In the actual garden bed, the pea straw (or bale of whatever mulch you prefer) is pulled apart and fluffed-up – nice and thick – this also allows fertilizer pellets to find their way down onto the soil. NEVER REMOVE THIS LAYER OF MULCH because soil microbes are actively working to enhance your soil and you could, by exposing them to sunlight, destroy those beneficial microbes very quickly!

Be sure to allow at least 5-10cm of space around the crown of each rose.


As this allows sunshine and space for new water-shoot development.


No matter which product you prefer to use, it’s imperative to get MULCH ON YOUR GARDEN NOW! We’re expecting a long, hot summer and we don’t want your roses to suffer or your water-bill to be excessive – ACT NOW!


Some roses in lower areas of our garden are seriously frost damaged but we are not going to prune ANYTHING MORE off them until the first flowering in November and I urge you to do the same where frost damage is evident. From previous experience here at Clonbinane, I assure you that ALL YOUR ROSES WILL RECOVER and flower this spring. During severe frost last winter, this FATHER OF PEACE, FRANCIS MEILLAND rose was severely frost affected.

The rose recovered and was magnificent this past season. It might take several years to fully remove all blackened branches – diligent summer pruning is an advantage – we’ll cross that bridge when we get there!


Has the most amazing darkest purple petals which exude enormous fragrance! Glossy, extremely healthy foliage adorns the rounded shrub which grows to 1.2 metres and the flowers are long-lasting in a vase – must have!

Was one of the most outstanding and alluring roses we saw in the rose fields this past summer when we went to check-out all the new release roses … stunningly healthy foliage on a sturdy, rounded shrub just over 1 metre tall smothered in large blooms of brightest pink – and, it’s beautifully fragrant to boot!! Lovely and already a favourite …

no rose garden would be complete without a stunning bright orange rose which produces long-stemmed, perfectly formed blooms which are brilliant to use in vases! This beautiful rose has dark reddish foliage which is a perfect foil for the orange flowers – a beauty and very highly recommended …

Q: What type of underwear packs a punch? ? A: Boxer shorts!

Hope you’re enjoying all the glory which spring offers us gardeners – Graham


This weekend is the last opportunity you’ll have to order BARE-ROOTED ROSES because the roses are now POTTED and beautifully foliaged, lots of roots in the coir-fibre potting mix and some are even budding! Yes, we have flower buds despite minus 2 frosty mornings!

In between watching the footy this weekend, scroll through and order a few roses to plant for flowering throughout this season and for years to come!

Happy gardening from the team here at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane …


Hello dear rose friends as lots of gardens are open for you to wander through and be inspired by!  This Expo at Yea coming weekend will be a great spring event …

Our garden is beautifully lush and green, daffodils are stunning and we’ll be seeing rose buds soon …

We hope you did what Laurel in QLD did last week – she forwarded the Rose Rambler to her local politicians.  Together we must and will stop multi-national companies ripping the fragment of our small family businesses apart; however, this will only happen with ACTION so we hope you shared the Rose Rambler with family, friends and politicians!  Thank you!

Here’s the climber which was missing in RR last week … SPITFIRE is a very moderate climber to around 2.5 metres which makes it actually very appropriate to plant in a large tub on a balcony perhaps!  The stamens which are laden with pollen are very attractive to bees and the rose blooms constantly from season start to end!


It’s so rewarding when customers have a happy experience with our roses.   This email from Yungaburra, QLD – the roses were in transit for EIGHT DAYS!

”Thanks to the team at Silkies … the roses are doing well. Some were a little bit wilted after their long journey (they were collected and planted on Saturday). On one PG I trimmed off a few wilted leaves, and gave all a soak for a few hours in seaweed solution before planting. All watered in and sprinkled with seaweed solution over the next couple of days. They are all looking bright and chirpy now.
Best wishes – Dinah”

You may think I harp and harp about the value of seaweed solution on roses but if all gardeners did the regime which Dinah offered her new roses, then you would also see ‘bright and chirpy’ plants every time you plant something new in your garden!

It’s simple and very economical – deep soak every new plant then water over with a sprinkling of seaweed solution – one watering can would easily cover more than 5 square metres – you don’t need to put a whole watering can of seaweed solution over each plant.


With every online order until the end of September, add 1 x 600g ECO-SEAWEED (RRP $32.50) to your cart and pay just $25.00!

Q: What’s a really happy ant?  A: Exhuber-ant.

Did you know that ants are really good to have in your garden?  They actually open up the soil which allows water penetration deep into the subsoil and we all know the importance of moisture in any garden.

Ants are in harmony (symbiotic) with earthworms and other soil microbes and when you see ants being particularly busy, you can be sure there’s rain on the way!

One more ant joke:

Q: What do ants study at university?  A: Ant-atomy.

YES, WE’RE STILL OPEN TO POSTING BARE-ROOTED ROSES … You’ve still got another two weeks to order bare-rooted roses for planting this season.  We are now removing all foliage when packing the roses as this reduces stress in transit and from all recent accounts, the roses are travelling well and settling into their new homes with ease!

Here are two very special favourites which Gra says are “to die for” …


is my all-time favourite golden yellow rose with exceptional fragrance in large, cupped flowers with masses of petals – I like to cut short stems and float them in an open bowl on the kitchen counter … a delight!

produces large blooms with velvet, deep crimson petals which exude strong old-rose fragrance.  The bush grows beautifully rounded to about one metre and I have three growing on a short hedge in my breeding garden … a true beauty!


Following on from last week, we are confident this suggestion from Kathy is sure to meet with approval – I’m definitely going to get to my local Rodwell’s and see their range of tags …

Hi Graham and Team, I was reading through your newsletter and someone had asked about name tags for roses. Being on a cattle and cropping farm we have access to the NLIS ear tags used for cattle. I use these and the marking pen that comes with it. They are great for all weather conditions and our heat and I attach with a zip tie on a lower branch – not done up tight. After a year or two they might need writing over again but they have lasted better than any other types of tagging system I have tried and can be purchased from rural stores by anyone or online. We buy off Drovers and get blank ones.

Regards  –  Kathy

Hope to see you at Clonbinane soon… Cheers from the team

Within 500 metres of the CLONBINANE INTERCHANGE
on the Hume Freeway, 60 kms north of Melbourne
9 – 4 PM – PH. 03 5787 1123 …


Hello dear rose friends as the first week of spring ambled on by with lots more daffodils revealing their smiling selves!


I truly enjoy seeing something strikingly different in a rose garden so I’m showing you three climbing roses which I just couldn’t be without in my garden:


– is one of the first roses to flower on the arches through the nursery – it prides itself as our ‘insect indicator’ … if aphids are around, they’ll definitely be on this rose and very quickly we’ll know whether ladybirds are active.  But apart from us ‘using’ this beautiful rose, it provides a most glorious display of multi-coloured blooms continually throughout the season … the bees love it, we love it and you’re sure to love it too!


– is a true ‘brown’ colour – very unique and although some unusual-coloured roses can be considered ‘difficult-to-grow’, this rose is very robust, extremely healthy and continual flowering – it could be used as a very dense ground-covering bush of 2 x 2 metres – a very versatile rose!

SPEAKING OF BEES … every one of us has a responsibility to encourage bees into our gardens.  I urge you to plant flowers for ALL SEASONS to enable bees to support themselves and in turn pollinate our food crops!  

Q: Why did the flying angel lose his job?  A: Because he had harp failure.


We’re constantly being asked …

Dear Diana, I was wondering whether you have a permanent name badge solution? How do you tag your Roses?  Kind Regards Robyn

Permanent naming of roses has been a journey – back at Kilmore I used 45cm long white conduit sticks to which I pop-riveted 25cm lengths of venetian blind and HAND PAINTED with BLACK ENAMEL paint … they were terrific and lasted really well!  However, when the 24hour service station opened and there was a lot of night foot-traffic past the gardens, we used to have armloads of the name ‘sticks’ returned to the nursery – mostly but not only, from the swimming pool at the Motel a few doors down!  Lots were still there when we destroyed those gardens back in 2012 to move out here to Clonbinane.

Another thing that has worked is to paint the original label with MARINE LACQUER – I have a PIERRE DE RONSARD label which is still 90% as clear-looking on a plant against a hot tin shed wall facing south-west – it was painted with marine lacquer more than five years ago!

In an endeavour to get something even MORE PERMANENT, I had a guy visit who was able to print aluminium tags with a laser printer … unfortunately, it was very expensive, the print way too small and the label too short so got lost under mulch!  An expensive experiment indeed!!!

So, if you find a really great way to permanently label our roses, I do hope you share your creativity!  Cheers … GRAHAM

Q: Where do birds invest their money?  A: In the stork market!

I received this email during the week that I want to share with you all:
Dear Dick Smith Fair Go supporter,

I have never been so angry!!

Please watch my video below, where I expose foreign-owned multinationals for extorting millions of dollars from small, family businesses in Australian country towns, in the middle of a drought.

In the video, I compare this “extortion” to the protection money paid by Kings Cross hotel owners to crime gangs in the 1950s.

This is not voluntary. Our small country family businesses are forced to sign up to these foreign booking websites, otherwise they will lose up to 50% of their business and be forced into bankruptcy.

Please watch video here.
Read media release here.

Dick Smith

Enjoy your week in the garden … remember to take at least 10 minutes to pull some weeds, mow a lawn or trim some plants – those 10 minutes of exercise EVERY day will ensure you live happier for longer!


Welcome dear Rose Friends to spring when the roses come to life again after their winter hibernation – not, of course, true for those in northern climates – you’re already flowering but let me tell you this … Melbourne rose gardens are also flowering NOW! I’ve had several customers call to ask “What should I do? I’ve got flowers on my roses!”

I guess you know what my response would be … ENJOY THEM! Of course!

Lots of our customers leave southern areas seeking warmth during winter – if any of you are coming home now or in a few weeks, if you didn’t prune prior to leaving home, happily go about and prune your rose garden. Flowering might be a little later than usual but you’ll be staggered at the size and quality of the blooms when they arrive in early summer!


Late last summer I planted hundreds of EARLY FLOWERING DAFFODILS and the gardens here are spectacular now despite heavy frosts – the bright yellow daffodils are so warming and a lovely reminder that spring is in the air!

Q: What do you get if a giant steps on Batman and Robin? A: FLATMAN & RIBBON!

Since it’s nearly the end of bare-rooted season, I want you to consider planting a hedge-row of one of the following varieties which I see are still in the heel-in bed:

One of the most strikingly pretty, very free-flowering and robust roses you could wish to have – add to that, incredible fragrance, extremely high health and you’ll be stunned with a row of three or more of this magnificent rose.

Creates a low hedge to around 1 metre tall and it is never without heads of flowers which are ideal for a vase – it’s magnificently fragrant, and produces the darkest crimson red blooms constantly in a west-facing garden.

Is so awesomely pretty that when people step from their car in the top carpark they are drawn to visit this beauty which produces long stems of roses which are suited to use as a lasting cut-flower – a hedge or group of three or more plants will offer you masses or gorgeous blooms in vases throughout the flowering season!

Q: Why wasn’t there any food left after the witches party? A: Because everyone was a goblin.


All organic mulches conserve water by reducing evaporation due to sun and wind, they supress weed growth and feed earthworms and many other microbial insects vital to balance the eco-system of the soil in your garden. Organic mulches hold and retain moisture for their use in hot weather!

Straw (wheaten, oat, barley, pea) can be used very effectively in times of dry weather. There is no doubt that lucerne straw is by far the most superior mulch because it breaks down and adds beneficial nutrients to the soil – right now, however, most lucerne will be used for drought affected animals!

Mulch of woodchips / leaves / animal manure around roses and other plants is effective however, apply lime over the soil every second or third year to counter possible acidity. I will talk more about soil health after my attendance at a SOIL WORKSHOP this past weekend. IMPORTANT: get a good cover of any of the above mulch products over your soil as soon as you have weeded the garden this week!

I’m sneaking another joke in …

Q: Why did the greyhound breeder take dog food to bed? A: Because he wanted to feed his nightmares!


“Dear Diana, I would like to say, that of the 32 bare root roses we’ve ordered this season, your root stock and your packaging thereof is by far the best, by far. Thank you very much. With kind regards, Jo-ann”

to which delightful message and a peek at the fact that Jo-ann had purchased SIX roses from us, I emailed …

“WOW … how lovely is this? I’m so thankful when our customers take time to praise our roses and service … you be sure to enjoy a lovely flowering season for years to come! Best wishes and thank you! Diana

It didn’t end there … Jo-ann had the last say:

“It is not for you to thank me….it is for me to thank YOU!!!! 🙂 Thank you, again! 🙂 With kindest regards, Jo-ann”.

During the next few weeks we’ll happily post our roses knowing they’re bouncing to be planted in your garden – we pack them so well and remember, OUR ROSES ARE 100% GUARANTEED TO GROW IN YOUR GARDEN – especially if you follow all of Graham’s recommendations for healthy growing! Weekly Eco-Seaweed solution over your roses in the first six weeks after planting will ensure the plants settle well – please don’t EVER let them dry out before planting and please, DON’T EVER OVERWATER once they’re planted!

Enjoy the happiness of this first week of spring in your garden … cheers from the team here at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane …