Hi Diana,
to get back to something that was under discussion a while ago, I’ve found a way to stop possums getting onto my climbing rose support and stripping the rose of all new growth and many leaves.  This rose has been absolutely crippled and able to make very little headway for a year.  Now, in just a month, it’s grown more than in all the previous 11 months combined, and even has some blooms.  it involves that black plastic mesh on a little roll you get at bunnings, for covering gutters so that leaves can’t fall in and clog them. my rose support is a made of 4×2 timber with two uprights.  I had put around this some of that anti-possum spiky black plastic that also comes on a roll.  it’s about 30cm broad and super-expensive for what it is, and it does nothing. the possums just walked across it on their way up to the food supply.  So I’ve got some of the gutter cover, placed it up flat vertical against the timber of the support and stapled along the bottom.  then, when i let it go, it flops over to roughly horizontal, forming a flexible barrier 15or 20cm wide and hardly conspicuous at all.  The possums could easily cross it if they were willing to risk the floppy, unstable structure that it is, but they do not trust it.  so far, so good.

I’ll attach an image.

I hope that helps someone


ROSE RAMBLER 26.9.2013

ROSE RAMBLER 26.9.2013

Hello dear rose friends … Well into this magnificent Spring season and in some parts of Australia, you will be enjoying flowers on the roses … we’ve got buds on all the potted roses even here at cold Clonbinane and the garden is delightfully poised in readiness for the rose blooming … got my camera charged and ready so that I can take all the ‘missing’ photos for the rosesalesonline.com.au website.

It is imperative that I take the photos myself for this website – there are so many ‘doctored’ pictures on the internet … our integrity will not allow us to show you anything other than the exquisite true beauty of each rose.

In my experience of taking pictures of the roses, I bring the camera to the computer, download all the photos and name them.  I have gone back to those photos months later and would swear that I got the name incorrect!  Not so … every rose has a time when it looks very different – it’s not always ‘perfect’ and so my intention is to present a gallery where you can enjoy the variables of each rose – I’ve never set small tasks for myself and this is a huge one!

TESTIMONIAL … Got this lovely email the other day:

Diana, Thankyou so much for all your courteous assistance. What an asset you must be to your employer!!!  I have contacted greenroses, I will let you know how we get on.  Kindest regards, Donna

So excited I was, that I went and spoke to the boss/upper-level management, Graham and suggested I might be worthy of a rise ???  He told me to ‘get in the shed’ …?  I was laughing too hard to go there!

GRA’S GARDEN … DID YOU KNOW ???  (Different heading this week … must be stuff worth knowing … !  Ed.)

  • Using a broom is good for your body – great exercise and oh, by the way, why was the broom late?  It over swept!
  • Slugs and snails are on the march with all this wet weather and they will be hiding in the places we gardeners never think to look.  There are snail and slug pellets which are formulated to keep our pets, birds, fauna and earthworms safe!  I use the ‘Multiguard’ snail pellets because they’re garden friendly and eventually break-down as soil nutrients.   Read the ‘caution’ on the pack and take care when using!
  • CELEBRATE .. look out for our 30th birthday celebrations – yes, we started out 30 years ago and dreamed to create a totally organic business that inspired people to lead more sustainable lives.  We are a registered sustainable nursery – the 5th to be approved in Victoria and we sell (and use) all Australian made products, where possible!

SPECTACULAR ROSE EVENT …  Many avid rose gardeners have never afforded the opportunity to visit the State Rose Garden at Werribee – a rose garden renowned as being one of the BEST PUBLIC ROSE GARDENS IN THE WORLD!

You MUST plan to visit the State Rose Garden and an ideal time will be on


11.00am – 4.00pm

when a host of rose growers/nurseries and horticultural exhibitors will be there – the roses will be at their absolute peak of flowering for the STATE ROSE GARDEN SHOW.

In a rather extraordinary turn of events, I booked for our family to attend a Slumber Safari at the Werribee Zoo to celebrate Graham’s 70th birthday on Saturday, 30th November – within hours of confirming the booking, I received an email about this Show which, obviously, we will definitely be taking part in!

See you at Werribee to celebrate with us!!!

SQUISHING APHIDS …  As of last night, I won’t be doing it anymore because I have learned that when I squish the aphids, I’m probably killing a host of predators as well – it all makes sense really because when I pulled a leaf that was hosting an amazing number of aphids, on checking the underside, sure enough, I saw the predator and a few minutes later, I had a tiny ladybird crawling on my jumper!

We did our regular spray maintenance program this morning – we know that we’re not harming any of the predators by using the Eco products … we’re just giving Mother Nature a gentle hand in controlling the aphids which are feeding on all the lush new rose foliage!

CHECK THE TIES …  If you haven’t already done so, please go and check all the ties on the standard roses – see that the weeping roses are well supported too!  We use and recommend the Velcro double-sided tape – can send it in the post if you’re frustrated trying to find a suitable tie material for your roses – $18.50 per 3 metre and $24.50 per 5 metre with pack and post a minimal extra.

IN CLOSING … Please continue to send your beautiful pictures of the roses at your place – I think it would be fun to organise a special ‘art show’ of Roses Only … will get something sorted and let you know when … meantime, enjoy the roses at your place and be happy!

Cheer from Diana & Graham Sargeant at Clonbinane

Coir fibre as potting mix for roses

If you are inclined to grow your roses in pots rather than in the soil, it is IMPERATIVE that you use a very high quality potting mix in order to preserve moisture and supply adequate nutrients to enable you to enjoy the absolute beauty of the rose for the couple of years that it will be in the potting mix.

A recent email enquiry has led me to promote the use of coir fibre … interesting reading:

“Hi Diana, I’d just like to know if you have had any experience or opinion on the brunnings coir block that you add  water to and you end up with 15 litres of rose planting mix. My mother no longer drives and this is a product she can carry home on the bus. I love to hear your views. It looks very much like a mulch to me but states it is a potting /planting mix,
regards Debra”
and my response:
Hey Deb … give your Mum to OK to bring home the blocks of coir, soak them with a bit of liquid seaweed and she will grow the most amazing plants!  All our roses were potted in 75% coir and 25% bark last year … superior and don’t forget how hot it was last year!!! Cheers … Diana

Rose Rambler 19.9.2013

Hello dear rose friends  …   Oh, what an interesting week … the panic of acquiring the last bare-rooted roses of this season with roses being posted all about the place.  Naturally, they’re all leafed up and some even have buds on – just remember to keep the liquid seaweed up to your roses – weekly for the next couple of weeks and then routine monthly maintenance thereafter!

Also, there have been panic calls about aphids!  Apparently the populations in some gardens are quite extensive.  Usually, the aphids are congregating and breeding rapidly in the less windy part of the garden … under the eaves, in the corner, around other large shrubs, etc.

The ladybirds will catch up although I haven’t seen any here yet …?  All the little birds will be having a feast and they need the aphids as a food source while they are nurturing their young.  That doesn’t resolve your problem … they’re destroying your roses!  So apart from using the Eco-oil insecticide, you might add some Eco-Neem!

The insect eats the Eco-Neem sprayed plant material;  the insect then fails to moult (shed their skin) which severely disrupts growth, development and reproduction.  The insect also loses the desire to feed, resulting in starvation.  Yes, it works but it may take up to 10 days before you see a significant reduction in the population of aphids which now, because they are weak, become prey for other insects, birds and reptiles in the garden!

Meantime, removing heavily affected foliage by finger-pruning is very effective in reducing numbers of aphids thus interrupting their breeding cycle.

We urge you not to resort to systemic chemical use!!!  Also, don’t use pyrethrum sprays as they will also kill all the other beneficial insects in the garden and so a very vicious cycle of chemical sprays will be required throughout the season.

Nature is a bit out of whack right now … please nurture the biodiversity in your space by letting things take their course and so what, if you don’t get the most abundant show of roses in the coming weeks, the next round will be glorious!

If Nature ever needed you to be kind and patient, now is the moment!!!

SOMETHING WORTH SHARING …  This beautiful quote came to me from a friend and I would like to pass it on …

“Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.   May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.   May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.  May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”

GRAHAM’S TIPS …  If you’re at all concerned about the fact that your pets might eat the fertilizer you apply to the plants, how about tossing the fertilizer into a 44 gallon drum (or other suitable container) filling it with water and then after about 10 days, using the now dissolved fertilizer as a ‘tea’ … water a well diluted solution over the plants – say 1:10 (one part solution to 10 litres water) and you can add liquid seaweed plus the Eco-products all at the same time!

We waste all our urine by flushing it in the toilet… pee into the above solution – girls, get creative but don’t ask me to help you here –  If any of you Rose Rambler readers notice how your pets react to this application of liquid fertiliser rather than pellets, can you please let us know your findings … thanks – have a great week!

Joke of the week … Q. What do you do if a truck runs over your toe?  A. Call a toe truck ..!

Graham’s joke leads me to tell this story … grandson Cooper was here and I helped him climb the large oak tree in the front garden – up and down, bouncing, swinging off like a monkey – all great fun until at the last minute, he fell and hurt his back and backside!  Walking to the house he asked me:  “Oma do you have bum cream?”  … yes, of course Oma has bum cream!  He laid on the floor while I applied the “that’s cool Oma” bum cream … little one’s have a way of melting you!

FINGER PRUNING …   So that all the flowers don’t emerge at the same time and also to strengthen the branches for beautiful, sturdy bushes throughout this flowering season, go around the rose bushes now and pinch out the top leaflets of half of all the new growths.  You could use secateurs but because the growth is very lush, it breaks off easily.

If you do this ‘finger pruning’ now, you are guaranteed to have a very consistent production of flowers throughout the season – the bush will branch out very well and the flowering stems will be strong and robust.

You will also be reducing aphid activity on some of this lush young growth – they’ll move into your neighbour’s garden because you’ve taken the ‘easy bits’ away!  It works, believe me!!!  If you’re at the Rose Farm in the next few weeks, ask me how to finger prune – always happy to show you this skill because it definitely lengthens the flowering season!

Alan in central coast N.S.W. is way beyond ‘finger pruning’ … he’s been sending me beautiful photos of his rose blooms and here’s ‘SUMMER OF LOVE’ … a glorious replacement for the old rose ‘JOYFULLNESS’ which has lost it’s vigour and is no longer worth having in the nursery … take a look at this beauty and if you, like us, don’t have rose blooms yet, here’s what we have to look forward to …SUMMER OF LOVE LOTS OF FLOWERS (3)

Have a wonderful week in the Spring garden … cheers from Clonbinane … Diana & Graham

ROSE RAMBLER 12.9.2013

Hello dear rose friends … “I love Spring anywhere, but if I could choose, I would greet it in a garden” … and there is no other place but the garden, where this glorious season delights all the senses quite so magically!  Have you heard a thrush call in the evening or maybe a wattle-bird in the morning – the kookaburras, the magpies and the tweet of the pardalotes and the wrens – all busy harvesting nesting material … what a business!

THE ROSES ARE POTTED AND READY TO FLOWER …  Yes, busy times behind us now as all the roses are potted and bursting forth with a delightful display of all the various colours of their foliage – some glossy and light green, the stunning dark almost black red, the browns and dark greens;  some serrated edged, some dull-matt grey/green … all really beautiful and fresh with the rose buds forming within this colourful display.

To ensure this bounty of foliage stays lush and healthy, if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to fertilize the rose bushes!  Timely also to start the spray maintenance program by mixing the following amount of product to 10 litres of water:

¼ cup liquid seaweed

¼ cup Eco – oil (insecticide)

¼ cup Eco – Rose (fungicide)

Eco – Neem (if you have a massive outbreak of aphids or other insects!)

All the products we use and recommend are entirely natural and organically-certified.  They are designed to assist Mother Nature when weather conditions or environmental variables occur that create an outbreak of pests/disease and can be used on your vegetables and fruit trees knowing that you can confidently harvest within hours of spraying!

NEVER SPRAY IF THE TEMPERATURE IS PREDICTED TO BE OVER 30 DEGREES!  Morning application of the spray maintenance program is preferred because the stomata (pores) of the plant are open and very receptive to nutrient uptake … if time does not permit morning application, do it after dinner … just DO IT so that you can enjoy the glory of beautiful, healthy roses with an abundance of flowers.

CLEMATIS … Such a magnificent sight … a rose flowering in all it’s beauty with a Clematis twining it’s way through the rose blooms.  Hybrid Clematis are one of the strongest and most beautiful compliment/companion plants of climbing roses and I urge you to dig a ‘double hole’ when you’re next planting a climbing rose … pop a Hybrid Clematis alongside the rose ensuring the Clematis is planted on the shaded side of the rose.

So many gardeners say they have lost their Clematis … you MUST plant the Clematis very deep in the soil because it requires a cool root-run – put a large rock at it’s base to keep the roots cool but definitely plant it in the sun!

Clematis tolerate frost far more readily than the roses …!!!!  The Clematis in the gardens here are about to flower – roses won’t be flowering until late October.  Truly, they are one of the toughest, hardiest and most spectacular plants!  Buy one this Spring!!!

TOUCHING TESTIMONIAL …  The Winter roses were late, couriers were unreliable and I was missing spending quality time with my gorgeous 80 year-old Mum!  We had a beaut day out!

Hi Diana,

To all  readers of the Rose Rambler I would like to comment on the FANTASTIC personal service with my roses delivery.

As we know due to seasonal conditions deliveries were delayed, mine more so by my absence to “sunnier climes” (DARWIN)! On my return my roses were personally delivered by none other than Diana who took the opportunity to take her Mum for a drive to Bendigo, deliver my roses and have lunch!!

I hope the lunch was nice! My roses have struck beautifully!!

Many Thanks,

Paul Penno Eaglehawk!

So nice when it all works out and there’s a happy customer.  For those who didn’t enjoy such personal service, I do hope our roses are now thriving in your garden!!!

GRA’S BITS …  I will start with a laugh – did you know that humour helps us learn …?

Q.  What do you call a pig doing karate?  A.  A pork chop!

Lucerne mulch actually feeds the plants as well as …

  • Saving water
  • Adding nitrogen, potassium and a host of other nutrients and minerals to the soil
  • Improving fruit and vegetable yields
  • Strengthening flowering plants like roses
  • Fantastic for no-dig gardens
  • Worms love it!

Small square bales can be purchased from produce stores;  we sell it here at the Rose Farm in bags – it’s been milled for easy application – light mulch around the roses NOW!

IN CLOSING …  Have a great, happy week – Diana & Graham Sargeant



Unfortunately, the protracted drought caused compulsory water saving regulations – some water storage facilities were at critically low levels and it became illegal to use anything but a hand-held hose during very restricted hours to water the garden.

This has changed with water storage levels at all-time highs so now the media is having a field day and scare-mongering with reports of the huge costs which will be incurred if we use any more than minimal quantities of water – especially on our gardens!

During the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show I listened to many gardeners share stories of their roses not having bloomed since the early Spring and the overwhelming response to my queries about their garden watering habits was “No, we can’t water the roses” … let’s put this into perspective …

We readily line up at our local restaurant for a meal and drinks with an average cost of no less than $25.00 per person per outing. Yes, we deserve the treat and the pleasure is immense (we hope!) however, within 24 hours, that pleasure is flushed down your loo! If that $25.00 was spent on additional water for the garden, the pleasure would endure for a number of months because the actual cost of water on your account is almost equivalent to the daily rate of the water service fee … yes, get out your last water account and check it!

Our water costs $0.5300/kL and the water service fee costs $0.4259 per day – we watered 3,000 pots once a day, every day by hand and used sprinklers on the hot days to cool the plants. Plus, we watered the gardens immediately around the house for one hour each zone, once a week and the roses never stopped flowering! We are reaping the benefits of watering the fruit trees – hundreds of luscious, juicy nachi fruits shared between our family and friends! They cost $6.00/kilo in the supermarket right now!

The point I am trying to make is that YOU DESERVE to enjoy the flowers in your garden and to get the flowers, you MUST water the garden – there is plenty of water and when you break down the costs as I have done, you too will turn on the irrigation system and let your plants flourish rather than flounder!

Overwhelmingly too, the health benefits to you are immeasurable when you can revel in the pleasure of the flowers in your garden – turn the tap on NOW and enjoy the glory of the roses throughout the late Autumn! It’s not too late!!!



Hello dear rose friends … Hope all you Dads had a very Happy Father’s Day!

Welcome to Spring with warm, sunny days and a definite hint of the glorious flowers to come.  By now all your new and beautifully pruned roses will be shooting madly – I hope you have given them a high quality fertilizer to nurture them through this time of intense growth.

Remember that a rose which is growing in well fertilized, humus rich soil will naturally be far more able to resist any pest and disease problems … if you haven’t yet fertilized your roses, DO IT NOW and do it again in another 8 weeks when they are flowering!

HOW TO FERTILIZE YOUR GARDEN …  Fertilizing is a very important task and your plants will reward you immensely when they are fed with high quality products … we are so lucky now that science has produced easy-to-use fertilizers with a complete package of nutrients so that we don’t have to purchase a little bag of this and another bag of that … buy a quality ALL PURPOSE FERTILIZER and spread it all over the root zone of the plants!!!

We’ve only got one small space to put the food into our bodies … yes, our mouth!   The clever mechanism of our body distributes the nutrients from that food, throughout our entire system!  Plants spread feeder roots over the whole canopy of their growth so if you throw the fertilizer at the base of the plant, that fertilizer isn’t being distributed evenly for the plant to be able to utilise it.  Take a bit of time to lightly distribute the fertilizer around the entire root-zone of your plants … do it frequently and enjoy the rewards!

GRAHAM’S TIPS … Roses appeal to every single one of our senses …

  • SMELL .. yes, they are great for fragrance – put your nose in a rose!  I wear a peak-cap which reads:  ROSES FOR NOSES .. learn how to enjoy the fragrance of ALL roses!
  • TASTE .. rose petals are increasingly being used in cakes, salads .. follow our organic rose management program and freely use rose petals in your food .. try it!
  • TOUCH .. experience the gentle moment on watching a child feel the rose petals – don’t scare them about the thorns .. kids will learn to respect walking around roses!
  • SOUND .. Yes, even sound is embraced in a rose and you can ‘hear’ it too .. the birds in the early morning opening the stomata (pores) to receive the dew or maybe your liquid seaweed application tonic … read the book “Secret Life Of Plants” to know more!
  • SIGHT .. WOW .. what a display of colours – surely the biggest range of any flower species on our planet!

(There was no joke written on the page so I presume you’ll have to wait till next week… Diana)

PESKY LITTLE PESTS …  We are already getting phone calls about the infestation of aphids –please don’t despair about aphids because they will occur on the more ‘protected’ roses – the one’s in the corner of the garden, under the eaves maybe, places where it isn’t windy, and provided you have some other flowers in the garden now, the ladybirds will be happening because they need the pollen and nectars of all the flowers to induce their breeding program … once they get going, the aphids will come under attack as the primary feed-source for the ladybirds!  All the little birds like sparrows, wrens and pardalotes will also be feasting on the aphids and other predator insects in the garden … so,

PLEASE don’t go down to the local supermarket or garden centre and purchase a ‘quick-fix’ chemical spray!  Let nature take it’s course, don’t get too anxious – let the birds and ladybirds enjoy the bounty of this beautiful Spring, continue with your regular rose maintenance program and if things get a bit out of hand, increase the rate of application of your eco-rose products!  Call us if you feel you need more advice.

IN CLOSING …  In the ‘busy-ness’ of everyday routine, take a quiet walk through your garden and revel in the joy of Spring … this blossom is on my 50th birthday fruit tree which has been shifted several times and produces delicious nectarines and peaches every year – how many will I get this year …???

2013-09-04 07.01.12

Enjoy the glory of being a gardener – cheers from Diana & Graham

Rose Rambler 29.8.2013

ROSE RAMBLER 29.8.2013

Hello dear rose friends …  there’s always something to share … gardening is just that way and a tip for those of you who have fruit trees that you wish to protect from possums is:

“Hello there Diana, thanks for all the pearls of wisdom you send out.

RE the possums – mine love the nectarines but do not bother my roses  –  choosy!!!

However, last year I heard, saw or read that if you spray with molasses one cup to one litre water, they will leave the fruit alone. Last year when there were actually some nectarines growing on the tree (none this year to check), I sprayed with this concoction and lo and behold the nectarines survived. Just a light spray over the plant did the trick.   Perhaps someone would like to try this. As I was not able to repeat this year I cannot be sure if it was just coincidence …??? Cheers,  Dorothy”

“Hi Diana & Graham, Sorry to hear the parrots are misbehaving in your garden. I feel a bit guilty as I did chuckle but sympathize really, a bit destructive like the possums around here. At the moment I am hanging small yellow plastic containers with moth balls in them on my rose bushes. (They are about 10cm long and came from Bunnings.) They seem to be working but have only been there 2 weeks. These containers are sealed but moth balls are poisonous so not a good idea if you have inquisitive children.

I have also cut up the black, plastic, spiky guards and nailed them to the top of the fence. That does make life unpleasant for the possums when I run out in the evening (doing a Diana) and they need to escape in a hurry!  Have a good day.  Margaret”

If you have a pearl of garden wisdom to share, please send me an email just like Dorothy and Margaret did and here also, are  GRAHAM’S GARDENING TIPS:

  • I suggest that molasses sprayed on an area of weeds will reduce their proliferation.  Why, I hear you ask?  The weeds do not like ‘sweet soil’ and since molasses is a sweetener, made from sugar cane, weeds cannot and will not grow where the soil is sweet!
  • Coffee grinds are very useful so don’t ‘bin’ them for the following reasons:
  1. There is a heap of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium including traces of other minerals.
  2. Acid loving plants appreciate a sprinkling of coffee grounds directly on the soil around the base of the plant.
  3. Slugs and snails will not crawl across the grounds – use them as a repellent.
  4. Place the grounds in the compost heap – worms absolutely love them!

Next time you’re at your local Café, ask if they will save the coffee grinds so that you can use them on your garden … they’ll most likely oblige – especially if you offer to collect them a few times each week and provide a lidded container for the storage.

Joke of the Week … What happens if you eat yeast and shoe polish?

Answer:  You will rise and shine! What a wonderful way to start Spring … it’s going to be a great season!

RE-POTTING PLANTS … At least every two years, plants which have been in containers must be planted into fresh potting mix.  Follow these easy steps to rejuvenate your potted roses:

  • Tip the pot sideways out onto an old bag or plastic sheet – you may need a knife to lever the plant out;
  • Trim 2/3 of the growth – remove all dead or old wood;
  • Cut away 1/3 of the existing root ball and tease remaining roots;
  • Reposition the plant using a high quality, fresh potting mix;
  • Water-in with the hose to remove all air-pockets – you may need to top up the potting mix after this soaking;
  • Water over with liquid seaweed to reduce the transplanting shock.

It’s never too late to undertake this very important task – plants which are left in containers for more than two years will definitely deteriorate.  Always use high quality potting mix and for the life of the plant, water containerised roses with liquid seaweed at least once a month.

IN CLOSING … One touch of nature makes the whole world kin” … William Shakespeare

This is the Season when everything changes so radically, so perfectly, so beautifully … the birds are singing and the mowers mowing … enjoy the moments!

Diana & Graham Sargeant, Silkies Rose Farm, CLONBINANE