The ‘REAL’ gardeners …

What a delightful experience it was to be ‘up in the Hills’ at Silvan this past weekend. The Gardening Expo was a pleasure to attend as we found ourselves represented amid the amazing group of specialist growers who want to get out and show ‘real’ gardeners the wonderful array of plants available today. Graham and I were very busy over the weekend chatting with people who are serious about gardening in their backyards which ranged from 400 square metre blocks to large country gardens – the gardeners who attended this Expo overwhelming want a ‘real’ garden.

We gained a lot of ideas about how we can expand on creating a website with loads of information … stuff we know and probably think you know … we are going to ‘get down and dirty’ and make this space a place for you to come and explore all the information and ideas you need to create the space which you call ‘home’ the most beautiful, relaxing and rewarding place for you to spend your spare time – a place where you can rejuvenate your spirit in order to be able to cope with the fast pace and craziness of the world we all live in …

Stay posted for my plan to let you know how to prepare your garden bed ready to plant roses this Winter …

The ‘Black Boy’ rose saga


Dear Diana and Graham,

You suggested emailing you with mystery rose images, and I’m very happy to oblige. The attached mystery red was sold to me as Alister Clark’s ‘Black Boy’ [I have the label still; it originally came from Rankins]. But a serious rosarian friend who has collected almost all Alister Clarks known saw the plant alone and told me this was not Black Boy. Seeing the blooms, it was obvious even to me that indeed it is not Black Boy, which is less double and has flimsy transparent untidy petals.

My plant is acting like a climber. It is a repeat bloomer and is very fragrant. I’m sorry it’s not Black Boy, because I am told my great grandfather had that rose growing in his garden on St Georges Rd in North Fitzroy, and I wanted to have it in his honour. But the rose I DO have is extremely nice in its opulent, velvety and rich way. I’d love to know what it really is.

Suggestions so far have included ‘Countess Of Stradbroke’, another A Clark, ‘Climbing Crimson Glory’ and ‘Climbing Chrysler Imperial’. I don’t think it’s Chrysler Imperial because the red is wrong. Mine is more pinkish crimson.

So I’d be grateful if people could cast their eye over my pics and give me the benefit of their knowledge.

I hope your stall at the show was a good experience and that you are reaping benefits. Thanks for bringing along the beautiful rugosas, which I had only ever seen as wintry looking bare roots, masses of fearsome prickes on hugely robust looking leafless twiggy plants, on a farm.

Best wishes,


All the rose pictures which you can see on this site and our related sites, and are photos taken by myself, DIANA SARGEANT, Consulting Rosarian, so I can assure you that they are accurate replications of the roses as named. It is my intention to provide you with several pictures of each rose so that you can enjoy the seasonal variables that occur with most varieties of roses.

It is important that you continue to visit us here to view updates and news of events, reviews of new rose varieties and general information relative to gardening.


She’s going to be 14 years old in July this year and you MUST take time to visit her when you come to visit the Rose Farm.
We originally had two dingoes but sadly, ‘Chienne’ succumbed to an altercation with a tiger snake a few years back. Her grave is near ‘The Children’s Rose’ in the garden south of our home.
‘Bonnie’ resides in the huge run on the eastern side of the house and you may see her when you drive through the main entrance of the Rose Farm – usually sitting up on her ‘pedestal’ … the massive log where underneath she has created her den.
Unfortunately, we cannot let ‘Bonnie’ roam free in the gardens during Rose Farm open hours … the grass, for her, is definitely greener on the other side of our fence and she has very little road sense so she is confined to her pen when the farm gates are open!
We believe that ‘Bonnie’ protects our Rose Farm from kangaroos and other native animals because she leaves her scent around the Rose Farm. She wakes Graham in the night by pawing his side of the bed when she knows she needs to go out and let the ferals be aware she is here! (I got up for the kids all those years, now it’s Graham’s turn to be woken in the night and he does it so graciously for his ‘other girl’!)
If you arrive here around closing time at 4.30 you’ll probably find the gates closed because ‘Bonnie’ howls some time after 4.00 since it’s her feeding time and also time for her to be free in the gardens – toot your car horn and I’ll come and open the gate for you!

3CR Radio

On the second Sunday of every month, either Diana or Graham Sargeant, both Consulting Rosarians and the owners of Silkies Rose Farm at Clonbinane, are part of the panel of gardening experts on Community Radio, 3CR, Melbourne, located at 855 on the am band. The 3CR Garden Show airs every Sunday between 7.30am – 9.15am and is purported to be the very best gardening radio program because gardeners who phone on (03)9419 8377 or (03)9419 0155 are given good time to consult with the expert volunteer panel. Diana has been presenting on 3CR for thirteen years and hasn’t missed a Radiothon in all those years. Twice every year, the Community Radio conducts a Radiothon in order to raise funds to enable the station to provide alternative programs to suit all styles of cultural and ethnic groups. The Garden Show Radiothon is a time when gardeners can make a donation in return for a host of fantastic products, books and other items relative to gardening. Tune-in to 3CR from the comfort of your bed or while you’re out pruning your roses on any Sunday morning and be entertained and informed by a great range of horticultural experts who, between them, will find the solution for any of your gardening queries.

Rose Rambler 07/3/2013

Hello dear rose friends … lovely Autumn is here with us for the next three months – time to get out and seriously enjoy the beauty of gardening!  This is such a great time to plant roses since the soil is still warm, the roses have been in their pots for a few months and right now they’re ready to florish in the open ground.  Planting roses in the Autumn will mean that they’ll settle in well before Winter when you will give them a light prune and by next Spring you have yourself a magnificent established rose garden!

OUR MISSION STATEMENT … It’s timely to remind you of our Mission Statement which has been hanging in our shop for more than 15 years:

1.         Advance the enjoyment of rose gardening;
2.         Educate the public to make gardening simple and fun;
3.         Encourage people to be aware of our environment;
4.         Provide information on the latest research into horticulture and landscaping;
5.         Promote ideas to enable people to be creative in their own gardens.

We are most interested to have your comments as to whether your experience of our business is that we are meeting our commitment to the Mission Statement and to encourage a response, we are offering you 10% off any purchases (plants and products) during the month of March.  To redeem this offer, please email your testimonial and I will send you a voucher … thank you in advance!

ROSE OF THE WEEK … This stunning rose absolutely excels in the cooler weather when it retains a depth of colour, so exclusively all it’s own … “ASHRAM” has lovely dark glossy foliage and the beautiful crimson new shoots add a glorious dimension to the deep burnt-orange flowers.  Fragance is light and every rose is perfect for a vase!

WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN THIS WEEK …  If you haven’t fertilized your roses, now would be a perfect time to feed and because of the recent rain, you should also do the rose maintenance spray program now and again in two weeks to ensure that the rose foliage stays protected against the humidity.  Give the roses a little TLC now and you will enjoy a bountiful display of flowers right up until the Winter.

Saw this saying in my diary this week … pertinent to gardening throughout this past Summer …

If you can find a path with no obstacles,
it probably doesn’t lead anywhere!  

Enjoy the roses in your garden this week …

Cheers from Diana & Graham Sargeant at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane.

Rose Rambler 28/2/2013

Hello dear rose friends, after a glorious few days in the rose fields at Kalangadoo, South Australia, I’m back in the office! In previous years we visited our grower, Brian Wagner around Christmas time. This visit there were fewer flowers in the fields and just to excite you and keep you in the loop, the reason we could see the roses but fewer flowers is that the rose bushes were pruned in late January to be sure they’ll be flowering well so that we can uphold our promise to have more than 200 vases of rose flowers on our stand at
Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show
Wednesday 20th to Sunday 25th March
Carlton Gardens, Melbourne
(Nicholson Street side – “Silkies & Wagners Rose Farms”)

Our visit with the grower is always a very important event on our calendar because we have the opportunity to see the roses growing in the fields and we are able to observe the health, growth habit and true colour and fragrance of the roses being released in the coming months.

We spent a lot of time during this visit firming up our plans for the forthcoming MIFGS where we will be sharing a site to enable us to bring you the most amazing display of field-grown roses supported by FOUR consulting rosarians on site. Bring all your rose queries to Site 19B and we will be able to identify a rose flower or rose problem – we will also be taking orders for the coming bare-rooted Winter roses, so bring your garden design plans and any one of us will assist you to create a beautiful rose garden!

The Rose Rambler 07/02/2013

Hello dear rose friends … another week of very little rain here in North/Central Victoria – exactly 2mm and the garden is gasping.  This is the sort of weather when we are truly pleased that we grow roses because they just love the Summer heat and they all look sensational just to prove the point!

We had some really beaut email responses to the Rose Rambler from last week – lots of snake and spider stories and this is a spider one:

“Hi Diana, big thanks for your email – I have been laughing all day!  And now, just a couple of thoughts for you about your voyeur huntsman……. .  I am sure that you know that flies have those eyes with many, many facets and see everything multiple times at once ………. huntsman do too ……… so now, just think what that huntsman is looking at …….. !   I have a theory that huntsmen are telepathic – that they see things and ‘beam’ the image to all other huntsman within a 20k radius ………… now think about just how many huntsman have seen the same image ………. .  Wow, that is ……….. scary!”

Two days after my episode with the huntsman, he was there checking Graham out – who needs medical examination when you have a resident huntsman?   He’s back in the garden where he belongs!!
Just to confirm to the women who read this, men really are ‘different’ … here’s another funny man story about how to deal with snakes:

Thanks for your Rose Rambler.   Just thought we would let you know that years ago we had a snake under the building of a youth camp in Halls Gap.  The solution was to place a saucer of milk near where the snake went in.  When the sun warmed the milk the snake sensed the smell and came out to it. It worked! The idea was to lean out the window above and drop rocks on the snake – but that didn’t work quite as well.  Cheers from us both ..

Really valuable information and the end of the snake and spider stories – we’ll get serious now and talk about the garden!

TALKING ROSES … Do you walk around your garden, see a particularly glorious rose and give it a name or have a chat with it?  Very often, when I drive in the gate I find myself smiling because I’m sure that the rose “Guy Savoy” is smiling at me … it is my happy-smiley rose.  When I walk past “Abraham Darby” on the little summer house it begs me to stop and take a really good look and especially to revel in the delightful fragrance.  And “Duet” demands my attention – her dark pink colour is so intensely different to any other rose and her waved petals pose a sense of frivolous sexiness … yeah, she’s really sexy!
Because I am in the process of compiling an encyclopaedia of roses I would love it if you could give me your ‘talk’ on any roses in your garden and I will add them to the description in the encyclopaedia.  What are your roses telling you about themselves?  Is what they’re telling you a reflection of your mood?  Are some roses distinctly feminine while others are definitely masculine?  Would you change the name of a rose because it reflects certain traits?  Your input and feedback will be invaluable and probably lots of fun too!!!

ROSE OF THE WEEK … I’ve chosen “FRIESIA” as the queen of the garden and pots too!  Her (see, I sex them when I speak about them!) clear, crisp, lemon-yellow buds open with such magnificent fragrance to display lovely red stamens which the bees just cannot get enough of – she’s really cooling and refreshing to visit and her dark green, serrated foliage is a wonderful foil for the masses of flowers she  produces so abundantly!  Lovely size too … rather slender about 90cms wide and 1.2mt tall.

In closing … Only one week to GO – remember to come along and see the debut of ‘Pearly Petals’ at the GO Festival at Royal Exhibition Buildings, Carlton on 16th and 17th February – only a few FREE PASSES still available so let me know quickly if you would like one of those!  Have a great week – stay cool …

Cheers from Diana & Graham Sargeant at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane.

The Rose Rambler 31/01/2013

Hello dear rose friends … as promised, another ‘Rose Rambler’ from Silkies Rose Farm at very dry, windy Clonbinane!   Here in the State of Victoria we would love some rain to recover our parched gardens while Queensland mops up from floods – in this week of Australia Day, we are all reminded of how truly remarkable Australia is!

YOU CANNOT KILL A ROSE … On 3rd January I packed up three standard roses destined for Gosford, NSW – Graham personally saw them onto the courier truck.  A week passed and our customer rang, he hadn’t received his roses and was getting concerned.  I assured him that the roses were very well packaged and they would arrive in the coming few days – he rang after ten days, then fourteen days.  The couriers assured me our customer had received his roses and I eventually tracked the roses to the forwarding courier depot in Shepparton.  The carton was delivered back to Clonbinane on 21st January – to my absolute delight and surprise, the roses had lost all their leaves however, the potting mix was beautifully damp and there were new watershoots on two of the roses!  I placed them in a solution of Natrakelp liquid seaweed and they were trimmed and potted later that day – ten days on and they have new foliage and are performing as though they never went through the trauma of being un-potted, packaged, shipped and left-for-dead at the courier depot … oh, if only they could talk!!!
Just for the fun of it, please send an email with your thoughts in about 200 words of how those roses may have endured the 21 days after leaving the nursery – all entries received before 7th February will receive a FREE bush rose of your choice when you come to the Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane, during the month of February.  This is not a competition but a fun exercise! 

FEEDBACK … I had lots of calls and emails from people who were pleased to hear my plea for us all to take care of the street trees in our neighbourhoods.  There is talk of us experiencing a wet Autumn so until we get good, deep-soaking rains, please continue to water trees in your garden and on your street – the trees are such an intrinsic part of the infrastructure of the space we live in and we must ensure they survive this hot, dry and windy Summer!

IN THE ROSE GARDEN THIS WEEK … If the roses are being irrigated, continue the Summer pruning program, leaving a good cover of foliage to shade the plant – light fertilizer application is recommended and certainly apply liquid seaweed.   A thick layer of mulch will preserve any moisture in the soil and keep the microbes and worms alive!

SNAKE WARNING … Within moments of watching Graham try to kill a snake by the front door yesterday afternoon, I answered a phone call from our insurance broker … we saw the snake go under the house and I asked Lerrell if maybe we should take out life insurance and did he have any advice on how to be rid of the snake?  He rang back within moments and suggested we get a mouse, tie it to a piece of string and dangle it at the edge of the house, then go and park the cars facing out towards the gate!  By this time, Graham was hauling a 44 gallon drum into the back room of the house and making an almighty amount of noise banging on the drum…??  Men, I give up and keep on giggling because otherwise, I’m sure I might be crying at their craziness and lack of sensibility!
Yesterday morning I thought I might have a slightly longer than usual shower since I had spent the previous day planting shrubs and roses on the north side of the driveway and the bones needed loosening … that was until I saw I was sharing my space with the biggest huntsman spider I’ve ever seen!  Some days are diamonds .. some days not!

Keep smiling until I share with you next week …
Diana & Graham Sargeant & Dingo, Bonnie, at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane
P.S. Put the dates 16th & 17th February in your diary – I will be at the Royal Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne with our ‘stepping out’ exhibition of ‘Pearly Petals’ – FREE passes still available!

The Rose Rambler Special 25/1/2013

After many months of research and fine-tuning, we are excited to tell you all that
‘Pearly Petals’
is now available at the website: or and I will be exhibiting on
Saturday 16th  &  Sunday 17th February

GO Festival
Royal Exhibition Buildings, Carlton

and also at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show (MIFGS), Carlton Gardens, from 20th – 25th March – stay posted for more information in following Rose Ramblers!

The GO (Girls Only) FESTIVAL is a weekend of celebrating women of all ages – it’s about taking time out to relax with friends while enjoying cooking demos, fashion parades, entertainment and the opportunity to see all things relative to being a woman at one exhibition!  To find out more, visit the website at  or

Because I would love you to see my exhibition on 16th & 17th February, I am offering 10 x single passes and 5 x double passes to you on a first-in-first-gets basis … simply call in at the Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane on any of our open days and you may collect one of either of the above passes … FREE!