REGULAR GROUP DEMONSTRATION DATES ARE PUBLISHED IN ‘ROSE RAMBLER’ our weekly email newsletter – subscribe at the home page of to receive your copy!
Each Pruning Demonstration will include a morning/afternoon tea and will only be cancelled if it is ‘seriously’ raining! Your children are most welcome!!
This first weekend in June is the start of a series of pruning demonstrations which I will give notice of in future Rose Rambler editions. There will be at least one demonstration on each weekend throughout June/July so if you have a group of people, please contact me so that we can organise a time which suits.

CALL ME ON 03 5787 1123 and we’ll organise a date and time which suits us both!

ROSE RAMBLER 16.5.2013

Hello dear rose friends … the other morning during a shower of rain we had an enormous flock of yellow-crested white cockatoos fly over the property and I stood and watched as a couple of them ‘took a shower’ hanging upside down in the trees and fanning their feathers right out so the rain washed all the dust and grit away –for a second I felt like a ‘peeping tom’ as it seemed such a ‘personal hygiene moment’ – they were having a ball and not one bit perturbed by me watching! Getting so close up and personal with nature is one of the most significantly beautiful aspects of our shifting the nursery from Kilmore to Clonbinane.

When you visit the Silkies Rose Farm at Clonbinane we offer you the opportunity to spend some time here – take a wander through the gardens and you are always welcome to bring a picnic as there is a lovely area under the gum-trees close to the kids play area where you can sit and enjoy the fresh country air!

ORGANICALLY, NATURALLY!!! … We have used this phrase on all our printed materials for more than 20 years and supported our organic status by “practice not preach” using only high quality, Australian researched and manufactured products. We encourage the use of organic methods and I will quote this description of organic farming from HRH, the Prince of Wales’ book “HARMONY – A NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT OUR WORLD”… page 57 …

“A truly durable farming system – one that has kept things going for 10,000 years – is the one that is commonly called ‘organic farming’. In a sense this is an unfortunate term because it has the ring of an alternative approach, or even a new one, when it is actually how farming was always conducted before industrial techniques came to dominate agriculture. It means farming in a way that preserves the long-term health of the soil, which comes down to giving back to Nature organic matter to replace what has been taken out. It means maintaining microbes and invertebrates in the soil and good moisture. It means using good water catchment management, planting trees that prevent the soil being eroded and maintaining the teeming biodiversity, including the beneficial and essential insects, such as bees.”
Smart man, HRH Prince Charles – the book is extremely worth reading – we received our copy by responding to a public notice which Dick Smith placed in ‘The Land’ newspaper and a sticker inside the front cover reads: “Donated by Dick Smith for our world’s children and future generations”.

IN THE ROSE GARDEN THIS WEEK … Most gardens will have had a good shower of rain this past few days so it is time to add CALCIUM over the rose garden. Calcium is a macro nutrient that performs many critical functions both within plants and the soil. Traditionally, calcium is applied in a powdered form as either GYPSUM, DOLOMITE OR LIME however, since powders are very slow to activate in the soil and are bulky and messy, the new eco-flo products represent a breakthrough in effectiveness and convenience. Using superfine particles, the eco-flo products with added seaweed are 40 times more concentrated than powdered forms of Gypsum, Dolomite or Lime and commence work straightaway.

We will use eco-flo Gypsum over the recently turned soil where my new rose garden will be established and eco-flo Dolomite over the other rose gardens. While you’re at your local garden centre purchasing these products, pick up a pH test kit and check the soil in your garden. If you need further advice, please email your questions to your ‘In-House’ consultant: Graham Sargeant at Silkies Rose Farm –

ROSE OF THE WEEK … A HUGE thank you to all the wonderful people who volunteer their precious time to do all manner of work in our communities! I had the pleasure of once again being able to gift wrap the roses for centre-pieces at the Mitchell Shire’s Volunteer Luncheon this week and the most outstanding rose of them all was ‘PLAYBOY’. I so hope the rose went to a lady with a sense of humour because in my description of this grand rose I always say, “If you can’t have a PLAYBOY in the bedroom, you must have a PLAYBOY in the garden”! With shiny crimson new tips, the dark green foliage is a magnificent foil for the single-petalled blooms of yellow eye, bright orange and red edges; this extremely free-flowering and healthy beauty should grace every garden for the shocking fun of it … here’s a picture …


IN CLOSING … I wrote to the local newspaper telling them of my near-miss with a pink-spotted black pig on the dirt road I’ve travelled into Kilmore for the past 13 years on a daily basis – do you think they would believe me if I wrote another letter telling them of the ‘mother-of-all-pigs’ which I encountered on another road into Kilmore today? Six cars stopped and one brave guy guided the very friendly (obviously hungry) pig into a verge and when the gorgeous blond owner arrived on the scene, the pig promptly bit her on the foot … I’m still giggling … have another great week in your rose garden!


Hello dear rose friends … another week of glorious Autumn weather so I decided to have a Spring-clean in my house and shifted all the furniture around … usually, Graham has a conniption when I do it but he walked in and to my absolute surprise and delight, he loved what I’d done and didn’t (yet!!!) complain that his ‘stuff’ was not where it used to be, etc. Well done, Diana, mission accomplished without any hassles until it was time to go to bed and you wouldn’t believe it, Bonnie, our dingo, is stubbornly laying at the end of our bed glaring at me as if to say, “If you don’t put that couch back where it has been for the past four years, I’m not going to bed” … we had a giggle and she was sleeping on the relocated couch next morning!
IN THE ROSE GARDEN … Because the roses are still flowering so beautifully, it is imperative that you continue to water to the garden – minimum 20 litres per rose delivered at the same time so that the water soaks right down to the root-zone!
The frost has damaged our garden rose blooms for this season so I will go around and remove the spent flowers just to make the bushes look tidy – we will not be pruning here until late July-early August. However, if your rose garden is in the more temperate zones and the roses have completed their flowering for this season, you will start pruning from June onwards so …
SUNDAY, 2ND JUNE, 10.00am
COST: $25.00 per adult

Each Pruning Demonstration will include a morning/afternoon tea and will only be cancelled if it is ‘seriously’ raining! Your children are most welcome!!
This first weekend in June is the start of a series of pruning demonstrations which I will give notice of in future Rose Rambler editions. There will be at least one demonstration on each weekend throughout June/July so if you have a group of people, please contact me so that we can organise a time which suits.
ROSE BREEDING … While you are out trimming the roses in the coming weeks and you see a lovely plump rose hip, don’t throw it out! Harvest the seeds and plant them because you, like Graham, might be the owner of a very new rose to call your own! His rose “GRA’S BLUE” is currently in the Rose Trial Gardens in Toowoomba – our own trials of this beautiful rose have proved the following:
• A gorgeous shade of light mauve, paler on the outer petals
• Delightful fragrance from medium sized blooms with masses of petals
• One of the first roses to flower and very free-flowering all season
• Ideal on a rose garden border or in pots because it grows to around 80cms
• Extremely healthy, glossy green lush foliage
One of the parents of “Gra’s Blue” was the first rose to receive a Gold Medal at the Australian Rose Trial Gardens in Adelaide – “Perfumed Perfection”. Graham sent budwood to our grower at Kalangadoo a few years ago and Brian was excited that “Gra’s Blue” performed so well and was noticed on more than one occasion by prominent rosarians who were very interested in it! Exciting!!! And, yes, you can order “Gra’s Blue” for this Winter!
Here is a photo of a bunch of “Gra’s Blue” …

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY … to all the Mothers/Grandmothers on this very special coming Sunday … may you enjoy lots of plants and flowers and breadcrumbs in the bed – remember, if you don’t wriggle, they won’t scratch!If there’s a quiet moment in your morning this Sunday, tune in to 3CR at 855 on the AM band for the 3CR Garden Show which starts at 7.30am – 9.15am because I will be on the panel with Stephen Ryan. You can call us on 03 9419 8377 or 03 9419 0155 with your rose queries or general gardening advice … give us a call just to say “Hello”.In closing … enjoy your garden in this glorious weather … cheers from Diana, Graham and a still not totally happy dingo, Bonnie at Clonbinane


This coming weekend, on Sunday, 5th May, treat yourself to a WALK & TALK IN THE GARDEN at the SILKIES ROSE FARM, CLONBINANE. Apart from the glorious Autumn colour of our newly planted oak and maple trees, the roses are putting on their most spectacular display right now and this is perfect timing to see and ‘stop and smell the roses’ before they go into their Winter dormancy.

Our plan is to demonstrate a number of different pruning techniques so that you will be well informed and well equipped to be able to effectively prune your roses this Winter. We will demonstrate with a range of pruning equipment including our Pellenc – Green Technology Range, secateurs and loppers from: LOWE, FELCO and WOLFF.

We recommend that you bring your own secateurs and other pruning equipment along to the demonstration so that we can assist with sharpening and maintenance of your pruning gear … stick around and have a morning tea with us.

WALK & TALK IN THE GARDEN – commences at 10.00am SUNDAY, 5TH MAY, 2013 and will only be cancelled if heavy rain is forecast … not likely! This opportunity to spend a couple of hours with Graham & Diana Sargeant, Consulting Rosarians, in their delightful gardens at CLONBINANE is a FREE EVENT but booking is preferred … please call 0418 337765 to reserve your place and we’ll see you on SUNDAY, 5TH MAY AT CLONBINANE.


Hello dear rose friends … the cool Autumn night turned into a very frosty start last Sunday morning when it was minus 2 degrees here at CLONBINANE at 6.30am! The fire wasn’t burning from the night before because we had been out late at a family function so luckily the glorious sunny morning hastened our exit from the house as it was decidedly warmer outside than it was inside!

Lots of people who have been visiting the Rose Farm are amazed at the number and quality of rose flowers that are shining in the glory of this lovely Autumn – it really is a season to enjoy the roses! Driving through the northern suburbs of Melbourne last week was a pleasure – roses in all the gardens were flourishing and in the roadside plantings around Epping, Whittlesea, Wallan and Kilmore it is so wonderful that some Council Departments are starting to realise that planting roses is not only beautiful to delight the ratepayers but obviously very low maintenance as well.

I spoke with one of the horticulturalists on our Mitchell Shire last week when he came to collect more roses for the parks in our Shire and he has invited me to come along and demonstrate how the roses in Kilmore should be pruned this Winter … I will show them!!! I will kit-up with my Pellenc hedger and the guys will be gasping in envy at how quickly, quietly and environmentally soundly I have the roses pruned … and on that note, why not come to Silkies Rose Farm on the first Sunday in May and we’ll do some demo pruning while we do “WALK AND TALK IN THE GARDEN” … starts at 10.00am and will only be cancelled if it rains! We’ll have morning tea together too!!!

ROSE OF THE WEEK … ‘CASANOVA’ is such a stunning rose that three years ago, I planted a whole bed of it with 24 plants … you must come and visit with it because right now there are masses of glorious bright orange blooms with shiny, dark crimson foliage as a foil for the clusters of flowers. ‘Casanova’ has every quality ingredient you would expect of a rose – including fragrance, ability to stand up well in the vase and is an all-round very highly recommended rose for all gardens and situations …

SO … SO WISH YOU WERE HERE … to see the spectacle of my ‘bonnie’ on Sunday night!!! Had a thought that we should cancel these huge (public funded) fireworks displays in the City and go back to the ‘cracker nights’ we used to have when I was a kid … ok, no crackers because although nobody in my memory ever got hurt, I can remember having the shite frightened out of me by unsuspecting crackers going off around me and now that I’m older (maybe more sensible …?), I understand the danger of crackers/fireworks!

But, hey, how fabulous would it be if every person in your neighbourhood collected their garden refuse, packaging, etc. – anything that burns nicely – stacked it at an agreed destination like the local park in each suburb and you would all sit around and socialise while watching the sparks fizzle from your own local bonfire? … such a wonderful pleasure as well as a brilliant community ‘get to know your neighbour’ and ‘clean up’ opportunity.
If I was the Prime Minister, I would declare it mandatory to have an annual community bonfire in each suburb – who wants to be the Co-Ordinator? Or maybe to do the study or be the Co-Ordinator to implement the study or the Co-Ordinator to study the implementation of the study or the implementer of the co-ordination of the study … let’s just DO IT!

THIS WEEK IN THE ROSE GARDEN … If you haven’t done all the things which I recommended you do from the past weeks, do them now! It is especially important to have a layer of straw mulch (preferably lucerne, pea straw or wheat straw) over the garden beds – keeps the soil warm for longer and gives the worms a ‘homely’ place for breeding… they’ll be breeding from now through to October and the more worms you have in your soil, the less work you have to do.
In the spirit of the ANZACS, God Bless our beautiful Australia … kick back and enjoy the magnificence of the Autumn rose garden … take time out to smell the fragrance in the rose blooms … Winter is just around the corner now!!

Cheers from Diana & Graham and Dingo, Bonnie, at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane

ROSE RAMBLER 11.4.2013

Hello dear rose friends … aaah, the smell of freshly cut green grass on a still and sunny Autumn day; what bliss and most especially since I had my beautiful 5 year old grandson, Logan on the mower with me. He asked me: “Oma, why do I have to stand up” … “there’s only room for one on this seat and you can steer the mower for me”. Within moments I felt his little body become heavy against me as he fell asleep so I popped him up on my left leg and continued mowing …
He quickly became a ‘dead-weight’ and it was almost impossible to steer the mower because his little bum caught on the steering wheel. I stopped and lifted his legs over both of my legs to distribute his weight and continued to mow…. Anybody who drove past the Rose Farm and saw me mowing with a sleeping child in my arms might have wondered what the heck I was up to but the moments were so precious, the grass smelled so glorious, it was still and the sun was shining down on us! Very special memories of Autumn 2013 in my garden …

IN THE ROSE GARDEN THIS WEEK … Because of the low night temperature combined with very moist air, it is essential to get the rose maintenance program happening to avoid black-spot infecting rose foliage!
To 10 litres of water add
¼ cup Eco-rose powder
¼ cup Eco-oil
¼ cup Natrakelp liquid seaweed

Mix well and spray over the rose plants to run-off – this spray program should be conducted prior to 10.00 am if the weather is expected to be over 30 degrees! To maintain healthy foliage while your roses are in bloom from now right up to the early Winter, we recommend this spray program be carried out no less than once a month – fortnightly is even better!

Now is also the time to fertilize all the plants in your garden – apply a good handful of high quality (preferably organic) fertilizer around a square metre at the base of each rose – remember the rose roots are spread out and down! We use and recommend Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF) which is available in 15kg and 25kg bags here at the Rose Farm – the product is what it says, “Complete” and takes the guess work out of feeding ALL the plants in your garden … easy, peasy!

LISTENING TO THE RADIO … and Bing Crosby was crooning …
“Every time you’re near a rose, aren’t you glad you’ve got a nose?”
This Sunday from 7.30am you should tune into the 3CR Garden Show on the AM Band at 855 – I will be part of the panel this Sunday, along with Stephan Ryan, so call in with a rose question – I definitely won’t be crooning!

THE GIFT ROSES … There is a rose suitable to gift for most occasions – here are a few which might be helpful next time you want to “say it with a rose” …

The Children’s Rose – a beauty for any occasion pertinent to a child
Mother’s Love – such a femininely delightful rose for all mothers
Many Happy Returns – birthday gift to remember that special day
Spirit of Peace – suitable for many different occasions
Father’s Love – had to be a glorious red rose for the gents
In Appreciation – when saying thank you just isn’t quite enough
Playboy – if you don’t have one in the bedroom, pop one in the garden
Fire Fighter/Fire Star – for the ‘firey’ in your life
Best Friend – RSPCA rose to remember your best friend
Remember Me – such a wonderful memorial rose

… and the list goes on and on so next week I will give you some more ideas but I must stress that on many occasions over the years when customers have come looking for a memorial rose I am adamant that whichever rose is selected, it must be a very hardy and easy-to-grow rose so that the rose fulfils the purpose of creating pleasure in the garden of the recipient!

In closing, thank you to all of you who visited with us at the Tesselaar Gardening Expo last weekend … what a delightful setting for you to enjoy ‘real’ professional plant growers from around Victoria all in one place.
Keep enjoying this splendid Autumn weather amid the lovely roses in your garden while you prepare another spot for a few ‘newies’ this Winter …



The Children’s Rose – a beauty for any occasion pertinent to a child
Mother’s Love – such a femininely delightful rose for all mothers
Many Happy Returns – birthday gift to remember that special day
Spirit of Peace – suitable for many different occasions
Father’s Love – had to be a glorious red rose for the gents
In Appreciation – when saying thank you just isn’t quite enough
Playboy – if you don’t have one in the bedroom, pop one in the garden
Fire Fighter/Fire Star – for the ‘firey’ in your life
Best Friend – RSPCA rose to remember your best friend
Remember Me – such a wonderful memorial rose

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,