Hello dear rose friends as we countdown the last few days till Christmas and we end this year of ramblings with you by sending our love and best wishes to you and yours.

If you need a last-minute gift rose, we’ll be open until 4.00pm SUNDAY, 23 RD DECEMBER.


We’ll be OPEN again at SILKIES ROSE FARM, CLONBINANE from FRIDAY, 11 TH JANUARYwith normal trading hours: FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY and MONDAY from 9.00am till 4.00pm – any other times strictly by appointment only.

During the holiday period you might trawl the internet creating wish-lists of roses you cannot live without so is open 24/7 to keep you entertained with lots of beautiful rose pictures and descriptions. You can, of course, order roses which will be posted when Australia Post are guaranteed to be fully functional after the crazy Christmas rush.





You might consider planting a hedge of roses where you otherwise might be installing a fence. Consider any of these hedge roses for a 1 metre wide x 1-2 metre tall hedge which would be considerably cheaper to install than a conventional timber or steel fence and require very low maintenance during its more than 50 years life span! I highly recommend:


all the KNOCKOUT roses are 100% high-health and can be maintained by machine-pruning using a chain-saw or hedge-trimmer two or three times a year for a dense, impenetrable hedge of continual flowers – KNOCKOUT, BLUSHING KNOCKOUT, PINK KNOCKOUTDOUBLE KNOCKOUT and SUNNY KNOCKOUT are all very highly recommended!
A customer told me last week she planted a row of MR. LINCOLN which now stands 1.6 – 1.8 metres upright and tall producing arms full of long-stemmed, highly fragrant blooms for vases throughout her home. (My mission this holidays is to see if Diana will share part of her new garden area for me to plant 7 x MR. LINCOLN on a row at 75cms spacing so that I can ensure a vase of this magnificent rose on our kitchen bench throughout the flowering season. I’ll let you know how I fare!)
Q. How do you make a fruit punch?  A. Give it boxing lessons.


Is a climbing rose which, using minimal support of perhaps steel mesh secured to star posts every 2.5 – 3 metres spacing and with initial horizontal training of the stems, a very dense hedge with amazingly healthy foliage and masses of apricot/salmon blooms continually throughout a very long flowering season is guaranteed! One of the most unusual and extremely beneficial attributes of this fabulous rose is that it holds lovely, fresh, healthy foliage throughout even the coldest of winters – remember, there will always be lots and lots of flowers when a rose has lots and lots of beautiful healthy foliage!

Q. Which of Santa’s reindeer has bad manners? A. Rude-olph!


  • Soak, like really soak the garden beds before you go and make soaking them one of the first chores when you get home;
  • Potted roses can be left with a deep saucer of water under them but will need attention at least every second day;
  • If your whole-garden mulching hasn’t been done yet, place a thick layer about one-metre square around each rose bush;
  • Dose each rose with liquid seaweed which ensures 3-5 degrees greater heat tolerance!

Generally tidy up the garden before you go to make your place look ‘lived-in’ and less attractive to intruders! Have a really lovely holiday season – a break in sending the Rose Rambler will give me time to research more information and find some great jokes for 2019 … see you then – Gra

May 2019 be a lovely year with good health and happiness and may your garden thrive and offer you a special place to uplift your spirit, energise your soul and be your health guardian!


Thank you most sincerely for your continued loyal support of our business!
Graham, Diana, and our poodle Mooi; our great assistants: Ben, Tova and Shelley


Hello dear rose friends as we pack the last roses for posting to you for this Christmas … yes, TOMORROW, FRIDAY, 14TH DECEMBER will be the last opportunity to purchase roses in our online store: for Christmas gifting.

Gosh but how lots of sunshine and heat turned our garden into a magnificently special place.   If you live within driving distance, do make an effort to come and walk in our garden soon – if you want to visit with a group, please contact us :

03 5787 1123 every FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY and MONDAY … 

we are happy to host a group on days other than our designated open days but YOU MUST BOOK AN APPOINTMENT!

Q. What did the fishing pole say to the fish?   A. Catch you later!


With more drenching rain on the way today, it would be most opportune to spray your roses with the organic rose management program at any opportunity after the foliage is dry – please don’t wait until it’s very hot again!

Because the spray liquid is a dirty colour due to seaweed solution, I find myself avoiding spraying the rose flowers and it has made a significant difference – we used to go around after spraying to trim the affected rose blooms.

It is really quite easy to have a good cover of spray without spraying the flowers – if you think about it, good foliage cover is the principle aim of the program!


Q. Why are kindergarten teachers so good?  A. They can make little things count.

So, can you spray in the evening after a hot day?  Well yes, you can, however, during hot weather the plant shuts down which means that the stomata (likes pores in our skin) close to protect the hydration of the plant.  Since we are spraying the foliage and we cannot see whether the stomata is open or not, we suggest that your rose spray program be done first thing in the morning before 10.00am to ensure maximum benefit to the roses.


Apply at least monthly. To 10  litres of water add:

Mix all the products together and stir well.  You can add Eco-aminogro (fish based fertilizer or say, Charlie Carp or some other product) which will act as a foliage fertilizer.

This spray program is suitable for most plants and should DEFINITELY BE USED IN YOUR ORCHARD AND IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN!  You can spray edibles in the morning and harvest them to eat for dinner!

Isn’t it great that we have such brilliant products to assist Mother Nature in managing possible pests and disease in our gardens – leads to this beautiful quotation:

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” …

Anna Frank quote from her diary written during the invasion of Holland in World War 2 and very much necessary for us to remember every day in these last days of another year – be happy and positive while the roses bloom so delightfully!



Highly awarded rose which is hugely fragrant, extremely healthy and ideal for tubs on balconies or on borders in the rose garden – a very versatile, and hugely popular rose –


When only the very best, most practical, easiest to handle and super economically priced secateurs are needed for the rose gardener you want to impress.


Spend $100 on a GIFT VOUCHER for the rose gardener in your life and we’ll add $20.00* when voucher is redeemed before July, 2019.


Meantime, we’ll talk with you next week in the Rose Rambler – take time out in all the busyness to stop and smell the roses … cheers from the team at Silkies


Please note, SILKIES ROSE FARM will close from…


Hello dear rose friends after celebrating Sinterklaas yesterday with some of my Dutch family… how privileged I feel to have connections with such lovely traditions which are still celebrated more than 60 years after my parents migrated to Australia from Holland.


Thank you to you all for your beautiful, thoughtful and kind messages to celebrate my birthday last week. Here’s a joke about my age …

When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, “I’m not sure.” “Look in your underwear, Poppy,” he advised. “Mine says I’m 6 – 8.”

I promised to give you some tips for managing your roses through summer and I guess one of the most important tasks is to dead-head the roses regularly – take secateurs and a bucket of water with you EVERY TIME you go to the rose garden.

Removing spent blooms will encourage a new flush of blooms more quickly and keep the rose bushes looking tidy – the new growth is sure to be healthy too!

Because you’re regularly dead-heading the bushes, you MUST fertilize them to be sure healthy foliage remains prolific and disease resistant – remember, more healthy foliage, more flowers! We use and recommend Complete Organic Fertilizer which is available from our Rose Farm at Clonbinane – source a quality product in your locality!

By regularly feeding the soil, you’re sure to be rewarded with continual flowering!

Mulching is imperative now that summer and hot weather is imminent! We’re using pea-straw again this year – I prefer a few peas rather than the hay/straw weeds which tend to dominate and I think might rob the soil of nutrients rather than enhance the soil!

Watering your garden is NOT difficult but it is one of the most misunderstood areas of maintaining a healthy, robust and free-flowering rose garden!

Please water DEEPLY and LESS FREQUENTLY! Once a week in most weather conditions is more than adequate – give each rose bush at least 20 litres of water delivered at the same time – that’s just two buckets of water once a week. In extremely hot weather, do this twice a week.

Check what amount of water is delivered by your drippers/shrubblers or stand at the tap with a 10 litre bucket and time how long it takes to fill the bucket … if you hand water, you’ll know how many seconds to stand and water each rose. This is SO IMPORTANT!!!

Please don’t waste our precious water but make it work to the advantage of a beautiful, free-flowering garden at your place! BE WATER-WISE! Inspired by this email you’ll now read about why I take a bucket of water out to the garden when I’m dead-heading …

Hi – I have ‘A Shropshire Lad’, a ‘Jude The Obscure’ and ‘The Alnwick Rose’  David Austin roses.  They are quite young and have not yet grown into substantial rose bushes.  I notice that if I put the flowers from these roses into a vase, the petals often fall off, the flowers don’t stand up very well and overall they don’t last long.  Will this change when these roses mature?  Some of my other bushes are lovely and strong as are the flowers that grow on them.  Would be very appreciative of your advice. Regards, Lorraine

My response: Lovely to hear from you Lorraine … In the case of your roses which you are wanting to place in a vase, DA’s are especially short-lived most of the time.  However, I’m very successful at bringing them indoors and placing in an open bowl – they do last a bit longer that way!  Of the varieties you mention, THE ALNWICK ROSE

is the most beautiful and long-lasting in a vase as a long-stemmed rose.  (Please note THE ALNWICK ROSE is SOLD OUT for this season – we grow it as a short border and it always produces lots of lovely long- stemmed bunches of roses for a vase!) The others will fall and shatter within 48 hours – even when picked at bud stage!

Most important that you take a bucket to the garden – pick the stems and dunk them immediately.  If you can, take them to the house and place in a cool, dark place – water level high up to their neck!  After a few hours of ‘drinking’ the flowers are more conditioned and ready to vase.  Of course, if you add flower preservative to the initial water and then to each vase, there is a chance the roses will last way longer indoors. Hope this is helpful …

Q:  What did the cat say when he lost all his money?  A: I’m paw!


Hybrid Tea rose with a delightful confection of colours including burnt orange, amber and beige with burnt red edges.


Modern Shrub Rose of extraordinary health and vigour as a pleasant reminder of the hero in your life!


This glorious specimen with tall single stems of the most highly fragrant dark red rose will be a joy to all rose gardeners

Yes, a gentle reminder that Christmas is looming – last roses will be posted from Clonbinane on FRIDAY, 14TH DECEMBER; posting will resume on MONDAY, 14TH JANUARY 2019.


Please note, SILKIES ROSE FARM will close from…

Enjoy the peace and quiet in your garden … until next week, best wishes from the team at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane.


Hello dear rose friends … How lucky are we gardeners? Taking time to ‘switch-off’ from all the busyness to get down and dirty pulling a few weeds, trimming some roses for a vase and yes, mowing the lawn – ah, the smell of a fresh-cut lawn.


We’ve had a week of extreme winter weather with ample rain to water gardens however, with the rain, rose foliage might be affected by blackspot/mildew. You’ll continue to enjoy beautiful roses if you stay on top of this problem with the organic rose management spray:


    • 1 SCOOP (5g) ECO-SEAWEED – or other seaweed product

Mix the products together well and pour or spray over foliage to run-off. When spraying, you can try and avoid spraying the flowers as the products will mark the lighter coloured blooms.

During these humid conditions, it would be effective to spray every 10-14 days then as soon as we get some hot, sunny weather, it will burn fungus spores and you can continue the once-a-month regime of spray management!


Because of the rain, blooms might be affected – some end up mushy balls of mould and these MUST be removed! I don’t even like them being left to rot at the base of the rose plant as I believe they are a haven for mildew/mould spores so rake them up and get rid of them in general garbage waste.

When you’re out trimming the spent flowers – don’t be shy – cut stems at least 20 – 30 cms in length so that the re-growth is lovely and strong, carries lots of flower heads and you maintain lovely rounded bushes rather than leggy / untidy bushes.

Q:If 2’s company and 3’s a crowd, what are 4 and 5?A:9!



Brilliant brightest dark pink, long-stemmed blooms with slight fragrance are produced on a sturdy, vigorous bush of immense disease resistance – this beautiful rose will impress you by the length of time it lasts in a vase.  Just one bush will provide an immense number of long-stemmed blooms each time you want to fill a vase!


RHAPSODY IN BLUE is an extremely vigorous, high-health rose to adorn a wall, place in a pillar frame or position at the back of the rose border as a hedge – this magnificently fragrant rose with the most dark purple petals and a showy mass of yellow stamens as a foil for the brilliant glossy mid-green foliage is very highly recommended.


SOEUR EMMANUELLE produces an abundance of lilac pink, highly fragrant blooms which are massed with petals and make a beautiful display in a vase.  The high-health bush is tall and upright, the foliage dark and healthy – very highly recommended rose!


Please don’t leave your shopping until the last minute – our last roses to be posted will be FRIDAY 14TH DECEMBER but please also remember that lots of people leave home at Christmas to go camping/holidaying so why not send them your gift rose NOW so they can tuck it into their garden where it will be safe and survive with a deep-soaking watering of just 20 litres ONCE A WEEK!

You can purchase a GIFT VOUCHER at – for every $50.00 you spend, I’ll gift the recipient an extra $5.00 to spend on their next transaction.


When you call in at Silkies Rose Farm you’ll likely meet our dear friend Shelley (and foxy Nelson) who has come to give us a hand – she’s a wizard with roses and loves a chat!

Take time to smell the roses during this amazing rose season and if you get a moment, please send a HAPPY 75 TH BIRTHDAY GRAHAM which he celebrates tomorrow … thank you all for being such beautiful customers!


Hello dear rose friends as we all revel in the glory of our spring gardens – colour, fragrance and absolutely breath-taking beauty surround us!

I apologise profusely for the NO SHOW last week … it all got so very, very busy after I had a few days off for my very first Oaks Day at Flemington Racecourse as part of Melbourne Cup week … here’s what I wrote about that …

“The roses at Flemington on Oaks Day were amazing, so much so, my friend Marilyn had to keep telling me to keep my mouth closed … I was in awe and loved every moment of the occasion!  I waited till the last race to win 1st, 2nd and 3rd place bets so yes, I had a fabulous day …”

Then we presented for the weekend at State Rose & Garden Show in the State Rose Garden at Werribee – I am delighted to tell you that this magnificent rose garden was voted 5th IN THE WORLD by the World Federation of Rose Societies – every rose lover MUST visit these spectacular gardens which are predominantly maintained by a group of 120 + volunteers who meet there every Wednesday and Saturday.

If you live close and would like to become part of this friendly group of volunteers, please contact to register your interest.

Back at the Rose Farm we are now enjoying magnificent flowering potted roses … it’s spectacular now and you should jump in the car and visit soon … the garden is magnificent also and we welcome you to take a walk with us.


To say it’s been busy is an understatement so here’s a joke to have a giggle …

Q:  If horses wear shoes, what do camels wear?   A:  Desert boots.  
“Dear Graham & Diana, A couple of years ago I came out to visit Silkies Farm, and came away with a couple of roses, your book (which I had borrowed over and over from our local library) and some sound advice re a CLIMBING DEVONIENSIS covered in mildew on a southerly aspect.

At that stage, DEVONIENSIS, CLB. had only been planted by our front door about 18 months. I knew that a southerly aspect was a big ask of a TEA ROSE, and really felt I’d done the wrong thing by her when she became smothered in mildew.

You suggested that I give her a couple more years to really get her roots down, and that chances were she would then go for it if she could get high enough to catch the westerly winter afternoon sun, and if not, then to shift her to a sunnier location.

Ka-boom!  Get going she did.  With my neighbour’s front garden, we have a scrumptiously perfumed corner of our street, and it’s a delight to arrive home, bushed after a day of teaching, to be greeted by such a heavenly sight.

I remember mentioning to you that if she comes good, I’ll send you a photo!  Many thanks for a delightful visit … I’m due for another … and for your encouragement and advice.

Hope the spring season is a great one for Silkies.  Very best wishes  –  Deb”

HOW LOVELY IS THIS … “Hi Diana, Ha, it wasn’t until I went to check my rose guide book (about planting potted roses in early summer) that your name clicked…you wrote the book!!
Just letting you know that roses arrived safely and planted out well, which was very welcome because they shipped during weather up around 40 degrees. So thank you very much for the careful packing!
All the best, Andrew”
PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEA – ALL ABOUT ROSES by DIANA SARGEANT – get organised early and I’ll post a signed copy NOW … $30.00 plus p/post and available in our online store:  GET YOUR COPY NOW!

GRA’S BLUE’ rose is now back in stock and we have lovely flowering potted plants ready for planting …

A few true beauties as they start to flower in abundance here at Clonbinane … 
FIREFIGHTER – one of the most gorgeous darkest red roses with magnificent fragrance and best of all, near thornless flowering stems – highly recommended rose
TWILIGHT ZONE – spectacular darkest purple blooms with awesome fragrance on a medium sized well-rounded shrub which is suitable as a border … gorgeous rose!
ASHRAM – is one of the most perfectly formed orange roses which is beautifully matched by stunning dark green, delightfully healthy foliage – a great rose!
Q:  What’s the same size and shape as an elephant but weighs nothing?    A:  An elephant’s shadow.  

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


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!