ROSE RAMBLER 29.6.2017

ROSE RAMBLER 29.06.2017 …

Now on the ‘upside’ of longer days already – it seems unbelievable that we have passed the winter solstice and our days from here onwards will lengthen and hasten the herald of spring flowering for our roses.  Phew, have we been busy while all this celestial ‘stuff’ has been happening …

PLEASE DO NOT CALL ME AT THE NURSERY ABOUT YOUR ROSE ORDER … we now have almost every rose available for posting – the last consignment only came into the nursery yesterday and now needs to be graded (obviously the BEST for pre-orders!) then sorted, tagged and pitted into heel-in beds then packed and posted.

We can only post around 50 cartons each day because we have a small Country Post Office managing our parcels so you can expect your roses to be delivered very soon – if you have a mobile phone contact on your order, we will send you AustPost tracking number so you know when to expect your roses.

If you are going away and wish to delay posting, please contact us IMMEDIATELY to ensure your roses are not wandering around the postal system waiting for you to come home!


Come on up to Silkies Rose Farm at Clonbinane if you’re unsure of how to prune your roses this winter – there will be formal pruning demonstrations on:

– both days commencing at 1.30pm

When we’re out in the garden together, I don’t just talk and demonstrate rose pruning, we’ll check out the compost heaps, prune some fruit trees and discuss all manner of gardening issues including how to avoid and correct this …

Soil compaction: the silent and sinister destroyer of healthy soil and plants

Imagine wearing tight clothing and not being able to breathe properly to perform regular tasks in your life.  Imagine if you were drawing breath with no one taking notice that you were slowly suffocating.  This is the condition of many agricultural and anthropogenic soils in which plants try to grow.  The lack of air space and waterholding capacity is the primary reason for substandard plant performance and eventual crop failure.

If you have time, we can chat over a cuppa before/after the demonstration … see you this weekend!

Q. What trees like a warm beverage?  A. Tea-trees


In the rose fields at Coldstream, Victoria, along a row of THE CHILDREN’S ROSE, there appeared a stem of creamy white flowers with all the characteristics and traits of the pale pink roses in the row … Mother Nature doing ‘her thing’ had produced a ‘sport’.

This ‘freak of Nature’ is a glorious rose which now bears the name:  THE WEDDING ROSE and is now available for rose lovers to enjoy.  So appropriately named because of the bridal-cream colour and magnificent fragrance, this robust beauty will be a treasure in every bride’s garden!

Here’s a little ‘twist’ of romance which now makes this beautiful rose extra special … I received a phone call enquiry about THE WEDDING ROSE … in my usual form, I postulated about how lovely the rose is, how appropriate it would be for a wedding gift and Vicki then placed an online order for the rose to be sent as a GIFT ROSE with this message:

“Life is ironic when it takes a spiky thorn to produce a beautiful rose.  Best wishes for your future together.  Vicki and Anne-Maree”

I responded to Vicki that I would post the rose according to her instructions but was curious about the message and I’m not afraid to ask a question when something sparks my curiosity so Vicki responded …

Many thanks Diana. I did ring and inquire. You’re probably too busy to read this but the story behind the message is: a friend has been looking for a wife for a long time, he got a badly infected finger from a rose thorn and his discharge nurse from hospital is the one he is going to marry. Roses work in mysterious ways.  Looking forward to receiving and giving the rose, Vicki

Here is a follow-up email…

Hi Diana .. The wedding was beautiful.  Thanks for getting The Wedding Rose to me on time. It’s now planted at Pepperina Gallery, Nobby which is a small town on the Darling Downs. Regards – Vicki

Now we have to wait until they have their first child and they order THE CHILDREN’S ROSE!

Our GIFT ROSE is an ideal way of commemorating special events in your life and I make EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM extra special so that YOUR GIFT is eternally memorable!

Q. Why do birds fly south for the winter?  A. ‘Cause it’s too far to walk …


Here’s a tip for those of you who dream of having a magnificent hedge of roses … Neil ordered 11 x MRS. B.R. CANT (tea rose ideal for mass planting) and when I acknowledged his order, I mentioned how glorious it would be.  He responded:

“ … you have already envisaged the mass planting of the rose garden bed as have I, and you will always be able to remember your contribution. I am thinking about a 2 metre by 2 metre spacing, what would your thoughts be?  Kind regards Neil”
Hi Neil … yes, the plants will eventually meet at this spacing – have you got lots of time on your side???  Giggling and trying to be delicate and not ask your age!!!

I would prefer to recommend that you do 1.2-1.5 metre spacing.  However, if you do 2 mt spacing, as the plants flower, take cuttings from stems where flowers have been and poke them into the soil to create new plants to thicken the border.  Another way is to take a flexible cane and layer it – literally bend it over, secure with an old horse-shoe or piece of wire and cover with soil to create a new plant.

I have two magnificent plants which are the first roses I planted here in 2000 and are the only two old-fashioned roses which survived Black Saturday, 2009 just because they were tucked in on the house side of a magnificent spruce which my lads watered and saved!  Each plant is easily 3.5 x 3.5 after 17 years of trimming, never, ever pruning!!!  Diana

Hope to see you here at the Rose Farm soon … whether it’s for a demo or to collect your roses this winter … do come along and meet with us here during our open hours:


Stay warm and comfortable when indoors but do get out into the fresh, cool winter weather to prune your roses – the winter garden has its own special beauty for you to enjoy …

Cheers from us here at Clonbinane

ROSE RAMBLER 22.6.2017

ROSE RAMBLER 22.06.2017 …

Hello dear rose friends with a very warm welcome to recent subscribers who have ordered online, attended a presentation or visited the Rose Farm recently.  We hope you gain valuable information from our weekly email and we invite you to contribute and use this document as an opportunity to share information and enrich the lives of your fellow gardeners.

If you wish to view previous ROSE RAMBLER newsletters, they’re all available at where you will find very historical information about our rose growing ventures.

We are always happy to pass on information from SUSTAINABLE GARDENING AUSTRALIA and this is a very important announcement, worthy of YOUR contribution – PLEASE, PLEASE do YOUR bit, have YOUR say and pass this very valuable information on to the generation whom, despite their busyness, NEED to KNOW about this because it will be them and their children whose lives will be seriously impacted if we ignore this …

SGA App Newsletter

SGA is excited to have just launched a crowd funding campaign on (campaign ends on 24th July 2017) to help fund the development and maintenance of a research-based web-app that indicates the safety for people and their environment of 1000+ garden products for pest, weed & disease control or to improve soil fertility.

This App will help home and professional gardeners make informed choices on how to reduce the use of chemicals that may have negative effects on human health and environmental impacts.

As a not-for-profit organisation, relying mainly on volunteers and donations, and with the assistance of Burnley College, University of Melbourne, SGA has developed a unique database which scores chemicals against 11 criteria indicating human and environmental impacts of each product.

For ease of use and to assist people make informed decisions, each product will be rated from 1 to 6 stars and show levels of safety for humans, bees and other insects, fish and birds, persistence in soils and likelihood of polluting waterways. In addition, it will suggest chemical-free alternatives to gardening problems.

SGA would appreciate your assistance in this campaign by sharing this initiative with your professional and personal networks and passing on to environmental and gardening groups within your community. Links to various communication channels are provided below to assist you in spreading the word:


This organisation doesn’t postulate about environmental issues; SGA is a very committed and dedicated group of people who offer us ALL an opportunity to be connected with OUR environment so, in order to show our support for SGA, we invite our enthusiastic Rose Rambler subscribers to donate at least $10.00 to the ‘crowdfunding campaign’.

We will commit 10% of ALL SALES IN THIS COMING WEEK to this immensely worthwhile campaign and know that our $’s will go 100% to where we donated them!

Q.  What do you call a cold dog sitting on a bunny?  A. A chilli dog on a bun!


In 1972 at Cants of Colchester Rose Nursery in the United Kingdom, (est. 1765 – no, not a misprint!) the magnificent JUST JOEY rose was released having been named for the wife of the Managing Director of the Company, Joey Pawsey.

JUST JOEY’s parents are FRAGRANT CLOUD (highly fragrant hybrid tea of deep orange/dark pink blend and DR. A.J. VERHAGE (buttery gold, highly fragrant with swirling petals).  JUST JOEY bears beautiful traits from both parents – most especially, high fragrance!

JUST JOEY has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Merit 1993 and in 1994 was introduced to the World Rose Hall of Fame.  When introduced to Australian rose lovers in the late 1970’s JUST JOEY was considered a breakthrough with its size of flower and distinctly unique colour!

This lovely rose is one of the first Hybrid Tea roses we planted in our gardens at Kilmore where our nursery was first registered in 1986 and we have seen plants of this magnificent rose in gardens wherever we have travelled around the world – it will continue to reward and delight any rose lover for years to come!

It’s such a delight to both of us when we receive an order for this season’s roses with a footnote like this one …

NB : Do you know that the roses I got from you last year , plus the tips I receive in the “Rose Rambler” Email, had all my roses old & new blooming like never before this year. I was able to give my neighbour Roses for her husbands grave, also my step son for his mums , as well as my friend & also myself for my wife’s grave. The bunches were all healthy & that large they would have cost a fortune at a florist. People who walk by ask how I get them to grow like they do, & I just pass on your firms name & a recommendation.  Thanks again  Mervyn

There is still a bit of a delay with some of the new-release roses … a few varieties are caught in the later digging cycle, along with standards and weeping roses which are usually only available during July … we are posting and processing orders as soon as the roses are ready – please be patient as there is plenty of time to plant bare-rooted roses well into July and August or beyond!

Another joke for this week:  Q: There were three men in a boat – it capsized but only two fellows got their hair wet!  Why?  A.  The third man was bald … like me!

Today is the first day after the shortest day – there is a weeding cycle until tomorrow and a new Moon on Saturday … it’s ALL HAPPENING … !!!

Enjoy pruning your roses if you are inclined to prune early and make planting your new roses a truly joyous occasion with your hands deep in the soil!  Cheers from the team here at Clonbinane where we are busy doing lots of packing/potting/trimming …

Diana, Graham and Mooi rugged up!


ROSE RAMBLER 15.06.2017 …

Hello dear rose friends from a very chilly Clonbinane where we’ve had frequent frosts with overnight temperatures registering minus … yes, up to minus 5 degrees followed by gloriously sunny days!

A few weeks ago I posted rose cuttings to a young lad, Andy, in Singapore – he desperately wants to grow MUNSTEAD WOOD but due to climatic conditions, thought roses grown on their own roots would be healthier and easier to grow … here is a series of emails and pics about the experience … the rose cuttings were wrapped in damp newspaper, sealed in plastic and took around 10 days to arrive in Singapore – I was delighted to see the photos Andy sent:

Andy:  Okay. Yes, all of them grew callus, hopefully they will be alright. When they first arrived, I quickly place them into a bucket of water to re-hydrate them, hope this is okay. Also, I have never seen such thorny or rather ‘hairy’ kind of rose. This is way too much thorns than I expected, hahaha.

Diana:  I did see the callous in the last pic where you asked if this was the start of the roots forming … YES DEFINITELY IT IS and I seriously hope you didn’t let these dry out in any way!  They did in transit exactly what I expected … formed callous so they will set root very quickly if you have treated them right – put them straight into the media, watered in with seaweed solution and left them in a sunny but protected location – they will require very light watering so keep the media slightly damp but not sopping wet.

I hope this is a success for you … please keep me posted on your cuttings as they grow.  Best wishes …

It would be a real thrill to see pictures of Andy’s roses as struck cuttings and then hopefully, as flowering plants in his Singapore garden.  I will keep you posted as this develops.


I know I harp on and on about the ‘magic’ of seaweed solution and here is exact testament to why …

Dear Graham, I had to let you know how wonderful my two roses are now that I have taken your advice.  At the Sunbury Garden Club I mentioned my despair with my two favourite roses looking very unhealthy and our local nursery had recommended pulling them out.  I drenched them twice a week for 6 weeks, as recommended by you and I now have so many beautiful yellow roses coming out!!!  The roses look so healthy and happy.  Thank you so much.   Warmest regards,   Lorna

The thing is, with lots of products which I use and recommend, you cannot see INSTANT RESULTS but if you persist, just as I have with spraying biodynamic preparations around our property here at Clonbinane over the last 17 years, the proof is in the soil … I can dig a hole anywhere within this boundary and successfully grow any plant I want to grow that suits our climatic conditions.  I use seaweed solution liberally!

There are worms breeding prolifically because wherever I dig with a fork, I raise soil filled with worms.  Note:  use a fork when turning the soil so you don’t cut the worms as severely as when you use a shovel!!!

Q.  What is the best thing to put into your pizza?  A.   Your teeth … ha, ha, got ya!

It’s such a pleasure to see our heel-in beds filled with such magnificent quality bare-rooted roses.

Soon enough, those beautiful 40cm canes and thick mass of roots will be cut so the plants will fit into their 20cm pots along with our yummy coir fibre potting mix ready to establish roots which in turn produce masses of new canes for flowering in October.

PRUNE YOUR NEWLY PLANTED BARE-ROOTED ROSES BY AT LEAST ONE THIRD – yes, go on, be brave and do it – leave just one with long canes exactly as it was when you received it and you will see that the bushes you trimmed are more robust, healthy-looking and nicely rounded shrubs compared to the leggy rose which you didn’t prune!

In the nursery, we wait until customers have paid for their roses then ask if they would like them pruned ready for planting … most customers jump at the opportunity to have a professional prune for their new roses.

It’s hilarious to see our customers gasp as we cut at least 1/3 of the branches!  No, there’s not a 1/3 discount on those pruned roses – if anything, we should add a 1/3 ‘pruning surcharge’ …!

Q.  Why did the hen go halfway across the road?  A.  She wanted to lay it on the line!


EVEN AFTER EXTREME COLD AND FROST this past weekend, I delighted my colleagues at Radio 3CR Melbourne Radio Talk-back Garden Show with a vase of NAHEMA and KNOCKOUT … two sensational roses worthy of planting in your garden!

Do treat yourself to THE BEST garden talk-back radio by tuning into 3CR Melbourne at 855 on the AM Band every Sunday morning from 7.30 – 9.15 am.

Diana will be on air 25th June for the 3CR Community Radiothon – the courtyard in Collingwood is stacked to the cudgels with horticultural products – every penny you donate converts to product or books, magazine subscriptions and a whole lot more!

Become part of the 3CR COMMUNITY GARDEN SHOW audience and know that whatever your gardening issue, it will be resolved by an expert panel of dedicated horticulturalists.

In closing, this message means so much …

Dear Diana and Graham … Well done for winning the 2017 Word of Mouth Award, well deserved.  Cheryl Schembri and Sunbury Garden Club

From a Garden Club who’s members remember when Graham would visit with our sons, Eric and Ben to help him – the boys remember too and they’re 37 and 34 now!  Thanks Sunbury Garden Club!

Enjoy planting and pruning in your winter garden…
Graham, Diana, Mooi and the team!


ROSE RAMBLER 09.06.2017 …  A day later than normal … sorry!  Enjoy this and also this Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend …

Hello dear rose friends … thank you to all of you who have taken YOUR precious time to give our business a review in WOMO … Word Of Mouth Online – we pay for this service because we believe it’s worth advertising YOUR opinion of the experience you have with us!

We have always asked for positive and negative experience feedback and there is no doubt there have been a couple of truly ordinary (mostly) delivery experiences which are listed in the reviews.
We’re pleased with this achievement and it’s particularly pleasing when new customers call to say they’ve read the reviews and are contacting us because YOU recommended us!


Over the past year, more than 90% of reviews for Silkies Rose Farm
have had a 4-5 star rating. Less than 5% of businesses qualify for the Service Award,
so our achievement is worth celebrating!


Please know that when I post roses to you, every parcel is special and I remember most of what is posted because I am ‘chief rose wrapper’ while Tova is ‘chief parcel packer’ on the days when she assists me.

It’s an incredibly lovely experience to receive an email like this one …

“Morning Diana.  I just wanted to send you a quick update… Aunty Val bought a special pot to plant her very special SHIRLEY’S ROSE.

It sits proudly on her front veranda where she can easily get to it (and see it from her comfy lounge chair)…It is very happy and healthy (and thankfully, so is Aunty Val).

I hope business is booming – you do such a wonderful job!  Take good care.  Martine”

Martine purchased SHIRLEY’S ROSE as a GIFT ROSE for her 86 year old Aunty Val to remember her sister, Martine’s Mother, Shirley who had died some years back and sent it with this message on a card:

A rose is a rose is a rose … Except for this one – Shirley’s Rose.
Always in our thoughts … Forever in our hearts.
For you Aunty Val, with much love … Tracey, Jonaelle and Martine

Any wonder that this gorgeous rose is so appreciated!

What a special opportunity our business has by offering such loving GIFT ROSES to be posted around Australia in celebration of all types of events which naturally occur in families … we post to all states except WA and TAS because we refuse to apply the chemicals required to pass quarantine in those States.

EVERY ROSE can be purchased as a GIFT ROSE … it’s a bit like, if the name suits the occasion, there’s a rose suitably named for that occasion so don’t be limited by your imagination when selecting your next GIFT ROSE!



This is my own experience with growing roses from cuttings up on the Great Divide here in Victoria –

  • Use coir fibre medium because it retains moisture
  • The seed-raising mix coir block must be soaked using clean water – the coir is manufactured from coconut fibre and is sterile to reduce issues with fungus which might cause cuttings to rot
  • Take cutting stems from rose branches where flowers have finished as this wood is hard/semi-hard
  • Use sharp / clean secateurs to cut stems around 100mm long and no less than pencil thick of clean stems with plump growth eyes
  • Use a stick to make holes in the coir which has been damped-down into seedling trays or perhaps polystyrene boxes with drain holes – whatever works for you!
  • Water over the cuttings with seaweed solution – soak them to remove all air pockets and then …
  • DON’T WATER AGAIN UNTIL YOU SEE GREEN SHOOTS APPEARING!  (There would have to be winter/early spring heat wave to need watering – it is most important to note that most cuttings fail due to OVER-WATERING !!!
  • Lightly sprinkle the cuttings which are now shooting ONCE A WEEK with seaweed solution and start to apply liquid fertilizer with seaweed from around September onwards.
  • Repot the rooted cuttings in October and watch them grow!

Growing roses from cuttings is a real pleasure and you must follow your ‘gardener’s intuition’ during the growing process – every season has different climatic conditions and every State has huge variables in when rose cuttings should be started and how they’re cultivated – if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!


Q.  Why wasn’t the teddy bear hungry?  A. Because he was stuffed!  

Please read this article for a greater understanding of how and why it is imperative for you to care for the soil in your garden … which I received from Sustainable Gardening Australia – a valuable resource for gardeners who want great information!

How’s this bit of information?  Leaving mushrooms out in the sunshine for an hour during winter will boost their Vitamin D content FOUR-FOLD.  This means that 100g of sundrenched mushrooms will provide an adults daily requirement of Vitamin D!

Q. What do you call a sheep with no legs?  A. A cloud.


Keeping you all informed about how things are going in the nursery – yes, some orders are being posted – others are still waiting for varieties to be dug and especially orders which include standards and weeping roses, these will be delayed until very late June/early July.

We don’t recommend you substitute your selected variety unless that particular variety is a ‘struggler’ – you know, one of those roses which is ok in premium conditions but otherwise, a rather ordinary performer.

Please take our recommendation for example … you want JULIA’S ROSE … we’ve delisted it in favour of SOUL SISTER which is awesomely healthy and very free flowering but almost identical in colour and bloom shape …


Julia’s Rose
Soul Sister

We’ve delisted PAT AUSTIN in favour of this delightfully pretty
David Austin Rose which is so healthy and very, very free-flowering …

Is way, way superior to ANGEL FACE –
we stock both but would way prefer to sell THANK YOU …

Here at the Rose Farm it’s head-down-bum-up while we get all this new seasons roses labelled, sorted and ready to post or pack and load into your vehicle.

Remember, I’ll be at Castlemaine next week for an exciting seminar at Buda and there will be another rose pruning demo here at Clonbinane on Sunday, 18th June

Cheers from us all warmly dressed for winter … Diana, Graham, Tova, Ben and Mooi