ROSE RAMBLER 29.1.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 29.1.2015

Hello dear rose friends … hope you enjoyed a magnificent AUSTRALIA DAY … we are all so very lucky to live in this great country where we enjoy peace and freedom; space in our gardens and the most glorious environment – let’s be happy with what we have!

The morning light has been magical for taking photos of the roses … here are a few…

– a most impressively healthy shrub which flowers continually with the brightest, most stunning yellow clusters of fragrant blooms


– almost certainly my most favourite Hybrid Tea rose … very free flowering and the most heavenly fragrance on a sturdy bush which, when continually pruned, produces an abundance of blooms for vases in our home


– should be planted as a group for a most stunning display of delightfully fragrant blooms in amazing abundance … if a mass planting of continual flowers from season start to end is your requirement, this is a beauty!


I’ve planted pumpkins, melons, corn, the tomatoes are almost fruiting and I’m loving the compost heap because it delivers all the fabulous nutrients those plants need to produce their ‘fruits’ – we’ve been harvesting apples which are suitable for Diana to produce ‘applemoes’ (Dutch for stewed apples) … yummy with ice-cream or yoghurt as dessert or any time of the day!  Peaches and nectarines we are eating straight from the trees … too deliciously messy to bring into the house!

Because of regular deep soaking, my pear and nachi trees are producing abundant fruit which will be ripe in a few weeks – it’s most important that you water the garden CONSISTENTLY … yes, it is about quantity but very much more importantly, it is about regular and consistent!

Flowers and vegetables which are conditioned to regular deep watering will be highly productive, sweet and very edible!

Q. How many grandmas does it take to change a light bulb?  A.  TWO … one to change the bulb, one to go on about how much better bulbs were in the old days!

Enjoy your garden during this most delightfully beautiful summer – I’ll be doing seminars on ‘all about roses’ soon – stay posted for the dates … Gra


Now is the time to get out and about with your camera and ‘sniffer’ to decide which roses you want to plant this coming winter … here’s a typical line up of roses during a recent consultancy for a new rose garden …

“Life can never be dull if you are prepared to think of others as they can always give you something that you will never be able to give yourself …”

Happy gardening as we plough through the last month of summer …

~ Cheers from Diana, Graham & Mooi who loves the chickens at Clonbinane

ROSE RAMBLER 22.1.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 22.1.2015

Hello dear rose friends … how glorious is the summer rain?  We hope the heavens opened on your garden and it’s had a fair share.  No matter how much you water your garden from the tap, when God wees on the garden, the results are amazing!

The potted roses love the rain too – they are stunning right now as we’ve had good windows of opportunity to spray regular applications of foliage fertilizer as well as our organic rose maintenance program – all this attention means lots of lush, healthy foliage and a bountiful supply of glorious blooms.

Time to load the kids in the car, bring the dog on a lead and a picnic – sit at the table and chairs under the gum trees and feel free to wander around our beautiful gardens while the kids go looking for frogs and snails – we’ll show them how to conduct the races!

Bring your camera so you can take lots of pics of roses if you’re planning a new garden for this coming winter season – you have until Monday, 2nd February to take advantage of $5.00 off every single rose if you have garden beds ready for planting now. We’re so easy to find if you’re on the HUME FREEWAY …


It’s on Saturday, 11th – Sunday, 12th April, 2015 and once again, my Rotary Club has secured a grant to subsidise travel for groups who would love to come and experience our region during this weekend.

The $10 per person travel subsidy will apply for groups of 15 or more.  You will enjoy a stop-over at the delightful Hidden Valley Estate Restaurant for morning/afternoon tea ($7.00 per person) along with a guided history walk by the lake (the estate was established by the late Robert Holmes a Court as a thoroughbred horse stud and was home to the Melbourne Cup Winner, BLACK KNIGHT), play Petanque (Boule) on the lawn or sit and watch golfers hit their balls onto the only island hole in Australia!

Naturally, you will come and visit us here at Silkies Rose Farm where you’ll be entertained by WALK AND TALK IN THE GARDEN WITH GRAHAM (yes, ok, he’ll tell some jokes too!) and you will be our guests to enjoy the scones, jam and cream with refreshments which we’ve never lost the touch of producing!

Then, you will visit Kilmore where you’ll get free entry, catalogue and gallery guide at the Kilmore Art Expo; you can enjoy a delicious lunch (main course is approx $10 per head), great coffee or a glass of local wine in the Expo Café.

If you would like to book a group and take advantage of this spectacular offer of $10 per head travel subsidy to enjoy a day in the country, please contact me on 03 5787 1123 or Andrea (Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell) 0428 410 041.


If you’re the GUEST SPEAKER CO-ORDINATOR of your group, please contact us so that we can organise a visit for Graham or Diana (sometimes both, depending on meeting time) to come and share our gardening knowledge with you … 03 5787 1123.


Had some great response to my ‘brew’ … could start a whole new business – take a look at Diana’s emails with Nat who does the brew:

Nat:  “My weed tea is in an old webbing chaff/wheat/feed bag suspended in a 100 litre tank with a tap at the bottom.  Perfect.  I have a flat stick I stir it with to get new weed additions and oxygen down into the brew. I really don’t mind the fragrance in the least. I grew up in dairy country, and it’s exactly the same to me as the smell of cow poo, which to me is actually nice, believe it or not.”

Diana’s response:  “You and Gra would do well in the perfume industry … you call it ‘fragrance’ which I think is hysterical.  I don’t dislike the smell at all … I just hate when Gra uses the brew on days when the nursery is open, the nursery is full of lovely smelling rose blooms and he disintegrates that glory with the cow poo smell!!!  Like come on, you would have to agree with me on this one?????  Laughing all the way … cheers … Diana”

Nat:  “Amazing you say that about the perfume industry. I was thinking of bottling and marketing it. House of Odieuse, new fragrance ‘O- d’Effluvia’!”

From Laurel in Queensland:   “I reckon that the green weed tea is magic. Up here we add a bit of chook manure for the water melons especially, but roses love it too if I could work out how to make enough to give each a drink. I thought of placing 40 gal drums at spaces along the lines but would need a lot – no shortage of weeds to use though!”

Some emails requested information on how to make the ‘brew’ … here’s what Diana wrote though she’s never made it or used it herself – just complained vehemently about the ‘smell’ but gloried at the results it produces …

This is easy … just get a 44gal drum, a hessian bag, a stick and a piece of string … fill the bag with weeds … all sorts including herbs, anything green, thistles too and any animal poo … tie them off in the bag then suspend the bag over a drum of water .. cover it or leave it open – air is good … stir it every couple of days … you’ll start to see bubbles and you’ll probably start to smell it … some say it’s ‘fragrant’ (what planet they live on is something I wrestle with???).

For ‘proper’ set up … put the drum on a stand and have a tap at the base for easy dispensing … put a couple of them around the yard in strategic locations so you can always have a ‘brew’ happening … within 3-4 weeks just tap-off and dilute with some water (1:10 one litre ‘brew’ to 10 litres water) to be safe if you’re pouring it over plant foliage … this is not so essential if you’re just pouring it over the ground … it’s brilliant fertilizer and it’s so cheap and easy … recommend adding seaweed (powder or solution) to the ‘brew’ every couple of weeks – adds to strengthening the cell wall of the plants reducing pressure from heat/cold stress.

Q.  What do you get if you cross a worm and a young goat?  A.  A dirty kid

Goes to show you can have a whole lot of fun while you’re out in the garden … see you soon at Clonbinane where you can pick up some magnificent roses during our summer promotion and personally check out my ‘brew’ … Gra


Here is a rose which truly shines to its name … SUMMER OF LOVE is an exquisite Hybrid Tea rose of immense beauty!  Tall growing with lush, healthy, dark-green foliage and continual repeat flowering, SUMMER OF LOVE is a must for those of you who love to pick roses for a vase – a stunning beauty in all seasons of flowering but particularly spectacular now and from bud to full bloom…

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” … applies to roses which are subjected to super-tough conditions which we are likely to experience in the coming weeks of heat – they’ll amaze you with their beauty so do take time out to stop and smell the roses …

~ Cheers from Diana, Graham, Mooi and heaps of baby chickens at Clonbinane

ROSE RAMBLER 15.1.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 15.1.2015

ROSE RAMBLER … 15.01.2015

Hello dear rose friends … here at Clonbinane we’ve had a very ordinary 17mm of rain – so disheartening when news reports suggested no less than 20mm every day for at least 4 days – in my dream, I saw the swale filled with water again, I felt the joy of being on the mower and the smell of freshly cut grass … ???  No wonder we hardly ever watch the TV!




Use the promotional coupon code ‘MIDSUMMER5’
in your shopping cart

*Conditions apply: Only valid for orders over $50.00.
Offer is not available for the Gift Rose.


Several weeks ago I told you about ‘free fertilizer’ made up by adding weeds along with herbs like comfrey, parsley, etc. in a hessian bag  suspended in a drum/garbage bin filled with water.  Well, there were potted roses in the nursery which for some reason or another looked like they were starved of nutrient – maybe they missed out on fertilizer or fertilizer fell out if the pot was tipped over in high wind – so I’ve been pouring my ‘brew’ over those yellow-leaved, sickly looking roses and the response has been astounding!  The leaves greened-up almost overnight and now they’re flowering again.

Here’s a pic of how I set this up … remember to keep it well away from the house because it’s got a very potent smell about it!

Q. What has a head and a tail but no body?  …. You’ve gotta guess this one??? A.  A coin

My very own-bred rose, GRA’S BLUE continues to amaze me with its perpetual continuity of free-flowering habit and I’m so glad that it’s thornless because I just grab a handful of spent flower stems and chop it … within days it has fresh foliage and is ready to set flowers all over again.  I recently picked a bunch for a vase – aaah, the fragrance and the blooms lasted well despite the heat.

If you would like to create a low-growing hedge of roses, similar to the one we have planted here at the Rose Farm, I highly recommend my little beauty – GRA’S BLUE for a continual show of small lavender-blue, fragrant blooms throughout the season.

Q. What is the best way to communicate with a fish?  A. Drop him a line!

I watched Diana throwing letters into the Jamieson River after I told her this joke … she didn’t catch a single fish!  We had fun though!!!



  • Remove spent flowers regularly – leave good foliage cover on the bush to prevent sunburning the stems
  • Fertilize with quality organic fertilizer – liquid or solid – just feed the roses every 8 weeks over the entire soil surface around the bushes!
  • Top-up mulch – quality lucerne/pea straw highly recommended but any mulch is better than none at all – we don’t recommend mushroom compost
  • Deep soak weekly with no less than 20 litres per watering


  • Never water late in the day – walk through the rose garden with a morning coffee in one hand, a hose in the other – enjoy the evenings with only a glass in your hand!
  • Never spray the organic rose management program on a day when the temperature is expected to exceed 30 degrees
  • Never remove all the foliage when dead-heading/summer pruning – here’s a recent email enquiry:
“A lady up here (central N.S.W.) has a very old overgrown rose. It has some lovely water shoots on it, is it too late to cut the old wood back???”

ANSWER:  It’s never too late to remove old wood from a rose which is rejuvenating by producing healthy water shoots … however, because of the potential of hot sun burning newly cut stems, be sure to cover them – some shade mesh would do the trick – you don’t want to cause sunburn on newly cut branches!  If the new water shoots have good foliage cover on them, that foliage would be adequate to stop any sun burn.  Go for it … cheers

If you grow RUGOSA ROSES, now is the time to harvest their summer crop of hips to make ROSE HIP JAM … in exchange for a jar of jam, I would be happy to pick our rose hips and forward them to the adventurous jam-maker.  Please contact me on 03-5787 1123 if you’re interested in this barter!

In closing … we’ll obviously see you at the Rose Farm soon to take advantage of this great Mid-Summer offer!  The roses look sensationally healthy and blooming profusely; they are more than ready and waiting to be planted in your garden … ooh, the joy of an instant rose garden during this wonderful summer.

~ Cheers from Graham, Diana & Mooi at CLONBINANE



ROSE RAMBLER … 08.01.2015

Hello dear rose friends and welcome to the excitement of a whole brand new year – may you enjoy lots of pleasure in your garden with good health and loving throughout 2015.

We hosted my Rotary Club Christmas party here at the Rose Farm and had the most extraordinary fun doing a snail race … the snails were marked with little stickers and we had to remember which sticker was attached to the snail we ‘bought’.  The snails were placed in a bucket and first snail to reach the top was the winner – talk about laugh!  After a few races, we had to wake the snails up by putting some water in the bucket after which, they went like rockets!!!

I shared this fun with a friend in Queensland and she told me they put frogs in a circle and the first frog out of the circle is the winner … we have lots of frogs in our garden because we don’t use lethal chemical weedicides/pesticides and when our grandchildren visit, it’s the first thing they do … find frogs and make a ‘habitat’ (container with grass, sand, sticks, etc.) add a skink (lizard), and other bugs.  We’ll be doing races with frogs next!

This is the type of thing kids should be doing and I’m sharing these ideas so that you can enjoy time with your kids and grandkids over the holidays.  Make sure you have fun with them in your eco-friendly garden!


I know Christmas is over but this is funny and worth sharing:

Q.  What do you get if you cross Santa Claus with a duck?  A.  A Christmas quacker!

While I water the pots, there’s usually a rose variety which stands out on a particular day but NEPTUNE impresses me every single time I water it – the highly, highly fragrant, rich lavender blue blooms with a blush of purple on the outer edge of the petals produces a consistently abundant amount of flowers.  The leaves are huge, very leathery and extremely disease resistant.  I reckon NEPTUNE is the BEST mauve-blue Hybrid Tea rose of them all!

I do hope you’ve mulched your garden beds as we’ll be experiencing some hot weather from here on in … you can source wheat/oat/barley straw (the cheapest and good on the compost heap and garden borders) but use either pea straw or lucerne around the roses because as it breaks down, it actually feeds the plants.

By mulching your garden, you are helping the environment by enriching the soil with carbon, reducing water consumption and feeding soil microbes and worms … etc. etc.

Q.  Why do giraffes have such long necks?  A.  Because their feet stink.


Recently I received an email with a request to identify a rose and I want to share with you how easy it is to get 100% correct ID if you forward a series of photos exactly as Jennifer did – the fully open flower, the foliage, the thorns, the bud …


So easy to identify this magnificent rose as MERMAID.  Remember too, if you need to have a rose budded because it is no longer in production, now is the time to forward the budwood to us so that we can request ‘custom budding’ by our grower – no later than end January!!!  Call us if you need advice (03) 5787 1123.


Recipe forwarded by Deborah after I sent her a box of fragrant, dark red rose petals …

“My grandmother-in-law has fond memories of her mother making ros pe jam out of wild roses that grew along the fence of where they used to holiday in Poland.  So for her birthday, I decided to recreate a jar of sweet rose jam for her to enjoy, using the sweetest and most fragrant rose petals from Silkies Rose Farm!  Here’s the recipe, so that you can enjoy this summer delight!”

Ingredients: makes ~ 600g of jam

  • 230g fresh rose petals (make sure they’re pesticide-free, like Silkies roses!)
  • 450g sugar
  • 1.2 litres of cold water
  • The juice of two lemons and all their pips


  1. Sterilise jam jars by washing them in the dishwasher, or washing them with boiled water, then dry them.
  2. Trim the white tips and any brown blemishes off the rose petals – these parts of the petals can make the jam bitter.
  3. Rinse the petals well but gently, making sure there are no bugs or dirt.
  4. Bruise the petals gently with your fingers to release their oils, then toss them in sugar, ensuring that each petal is coated with sugar.
  5. Set aside the leftover sugar and cover the sugared petals with clingfilm to leave in the fridge overnight.
  6. The next day, place the water, remaining sugar, lemon juice and pips in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
  7. Add your rose petals and simmer for 20 minutes, then boil rapidly for 5 minutes.
  8. Test if the jam is ready by placing a drop of jam on a cold saucer, letting it cool, then jiggling the saucer to see if the jam holds and feels sticky.  If not, keep boiling and test after every minute until ready.  The best tasting jam should be a little runny (but not watery), to get that full rose flavour!  Over-boiling will make the jam taste more sugary and less rosie.
  9. Once ready, take the saucepan off the heat, fish out any lemon pips you can see, then decant the jam into warmed jars (sitting the jars in hot water will do the trick).
  10. Let the jam cool before placing the lid on and refrigerating.


Is going from strength to strength with many people taking advantage of this delightful way of expressing their love in the form of a gorgeous rose bush.  I received this beautiful testimonial recently:

“My friends Kerry and Kath ordered a gift rose PEACE rose from you and it arrived two days before Christmas on my Dad’s anniversary and I took two blooms with other roses from our garden and some catmint to Mum and Dad’s grave.

The gift rose box is fantastic.  I got sprung in the front garden in my dressing gown (rescuing a limp hydrangea) by a man saying “hello lady” holding a very impressive box.  When you take a sneak peak in the top as suggested you look down into gorgeous blooms and foliage.  The tabs hold the pot very firmly and the white writing and design contrasts with the brown cardboard very nicely.

You must enjoy packing these roses off knowing how welcomed they will be.

Thanks so much for your beautiful roses and Happy Christmas.  Monica”

Yes, I do indeed enjoy packing the roses into the ‘GIFT ROSE’ box knowing they won’t move a millimetre no matter how roughly they are handled in transit.  Where possible, I select a specimen which is flowering – most definitely one with buds for the recipient to enjoy soon after the rose arrives.

If you’re not happy to order online at or, just phone me on 03 5787 1123 and I will organise a beautiful GIFT ROSE for you.

Enjoy this holiday season – maybe it will afford you time to come and visit us here at Clonbinane any FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY and MONDAY or other times by appointment.
~ Cheers from Graham, Diana & Mooi