ROSE RAMBLER 27.8.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 27.8.2015

Hello dear rose friends … only one week to go to the end of winter and you might ask, as we do, where on earth has time gone?  Even our little grandchildren say how fast the time goes – when I was a kid, time during school holidays for example, seemed to drag on and on – not so anymore! Here is a lovely email I feel compelled to share:

“I just wanted to thank-you for the amazing guidance offered by your book during pruning season. By using your book, I was able to successfully prune over 50 roses with confidence It was a great feeling to be able to complete the task knowing not only that it was being done correctly but that it was being done in a way that would greatly enhance the health and productivity of the rose come Spring and Summer. I followed the pruning by feeding the roses with the special concoction suggested in the book and it gives me great pleasure to know that my roses are 100% organically managed. Every time I am home, I take a walk around the rose garden to enjoy the first signs of new growth – I just can’t wait until the first bloom! What I must also mention is that the vast majority of my roses are from Silkies Rose Farm and it would be an understatement to say that these roses are by far the best performers – they are strong, healthy plants with exceptional vigour. I feel so lucky to have your farm so close to home (well, yes, it’s a 45-minute drive, but its always worth it), to have been able to establish a lovely relationship with you, Graham and Mooi, and to be able to support a wonderful local business. A very, very big thank-you from a very happy young rosarian from Macedon.

After four years of building up the garden, I thought I’d send through the list of what I now have just for the sake of celebrating with you what a wonderful collection you’ve helped me to create with excellent advice and recommendations.

But, there’s always space for more and so I’m wondering if you have any of the following this season… If so, I’ll drop in this weekend! I’m so excited to plant more!!!  As always, thank-you so much and I hope you’re well.”

– Nicky, Macedon VIC

We have received so many compliments about how my book, ALL ABOUT ROSES is such a helpful tool in all aspects of rose management – a customer called the other day asking for the organic rose management program – she had lent her book to a friend and wanted to spray but without ALL ABOUT ROSES, she needed to call me for the rose management spray program recipe:  order your copy now at it would be a wonderful FATHER’S DAY GIFT for the garden-happy Dad in your life – a personally signed copy can be posted direct to your Dad!


To make compost work and be effective, use regular applications of seaweed solution because it feeds the compost microbes and makes it active to feed plants.  Now is the time to be very diligent with weekly/fortnightly applications of seaweed solution because the roses are producing their new growth and flower buds for this flowering season – the 70+ minerals will provide natural growth hormones, feed earthworms who will continually aerate the soil within your garden and give you up to 30% more beautiful, long-lasting flowers when the roses start flowering soon.

We continue to use and recommend NATRAKELP (organic seaweed solution) and OCP’s powdered ECO-SEAWEED – both extremely high quality seaweed products.

Q.  What did Mr. Flea say to Mrs. Flea?  A.  I love you aw-flea!

Here is my highly recommended rose of the week:
produces the most amazing profusion of perfectly formed, long-stemmed roses continually throughout the flowering season – there is a light, fruity fragrance but probably more importantly from such a vibrantly coloured rose, the bush is robust, upright and extremely healthy – such a reliable rose for stunning vases of flowers.

Have a great week in your garden as spring kicks in – just one more:

Q. Why is it better to be a grasshopper than a cricket?  A.  Because grasshoppers can play cricket but crickets can’t play grasshopper – next, we’ll be hearing of the Aussie Grasshoppers … Gra

REMEMBER to lock this weekend into your calendar – we’ll be there!
Cheers from Diana, Graham and Mooi at Clonbinane … 


ROSE RAMBLER 20.8.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 20.8.2015

Hello dear rose friends – less than TWO WEEKS to spring and despite having one of the “coldest winters on record in 70 years”, the roses are pushing leaves and before we know it, they’ll be flowering.

Some of you might not even have ventured to prune the roses yet … that’s ok, when you leave pruning till late in the season, the roses will indicate exactly where they would like to be pruned – find the plumpest, outward facing bud – snip – job done … remember to snip a trouble away each time you cut!

Here’s an email conversation which might be useful to you all –

Hi Diana and Graham, In your last newsletter you talked about putting compost around the base of the rose, but not to till the soil.  I usually remove the old leaf litter and sugar cane mulch and replace with fresh. Should I in fact not be removing old mulch?  Should I put new compost over the existing mulch and then top up with new mulch?
And should we be feeding the roses yet?  If you would clarify, that would be great.  Thanks, Jo

Our response:  We NEVER recommend removing mulch because there is always a plethora of microbial/insect/just plain natural ‘stuff’ going on in the soil under mulch – spray the organic rose management program over the plants/soil, distribute fertilizer over entire garden area, put compost around the plants (if you have it) then mulch over the whole lot.

As we prune roses we naturally remove ‘litter’ closest to the bud union … this makes it easy to get in with the secateurs to remove oldest branches right down to the crown but we would NEVER fork/till soil around the roses unless we felt there was soil compaction – exactly why we suggest you use a layer of cardboard/biscuit of straw around the rose garden to step on while you’re pruning!  Really important function whilst pruning a winter garden – most especially if the soil is damp!!!

Hope this answers all your questions – importantly, listen to what your INTUITION tells you to do in your garden … enjoy the moments … cheers Diana and Graham


All the bare-rooted roses are potted now so I did our organic rose management spray program this week:  to 10 litres of water add:

¼ cup eco-rose fungicide
¼ cup eco-oil insecticide
Seaweed solution (as per pack instructions of the product used)

I added ECO-AMINOGRO which is a fish/amino acid-based foliage fertilizer which will stimulate strong, healthy foliage and transfer into good root development on the newly potted roses!

Q.  What monkey looks like a flower?  A.  A chimp-pansy … hope you’ve planted lots of annuals for delightful early spring flowering in your rose garden!

We always get lots of request for ‘problem solvers’ when it comes to rabbits, possums, wallabies and native birds in the rose garden – unfortunately, there is NO ABSOLUTE SOLUTION to any of the predators.

However, we do recommend constant vigilance, creative barriers and understanding of the creatures we live with who share our garden space!

Q.  What do you get if you cross a rabbit with a flea?  A.  Bugs Bunny … that’s me and my jokes for this week … Gra


Yes, of course we can still post you roses – they’re (mostly) trimmed back to within an inch of their lives and shooting madly but because we are careful in the bundling, add some coir-fibre potting mix within the damp newspaper and then wrap firmly in plastic, the roses are travelling really well – here’s a testimony:

Thank you so much for your wonderful nursery, rose delivery service, and your wonderful book which I am reading at the moment… but most especially for your wonderful self!!!  And Graham is pretty wonderful too… V

And another one:  Dear Diana, Just a note to thank you. The roses arrived quickly after order last week. They looked in beautiful condition and are happily planted. Will see how they go and hopefully we can order more of the same after Sydney summer. Sincerely, Anne

We will continue to post bare-rooted roses through September so if you’re still preparing garden beds but not quite sorted, don’t panic and yes, the rose bushes will bloom abundantly from November onwards as long as you diligently apply seaweed solution at planting and then at least monthly thereafter!

IN CLOSING … when you need to send a memorial gift, REMEMBER ME is such a beautiful, healthy, reliable rose to send to the most ‘non-gardening’ person and way, way better than a bunch of flowers because they will plant this gorgeous rose and have memories of perfectly shaped blooms, continually throughout the flowering season … this is such a grand rose which makes a statement:

beautifully gift wrapped, ready to post now from

REMEMBER ME produces flowers like this continually … can be ordered as a bush rose for your garden at just because you want a lovely bright orange/copper rose in your garden …

Enjoy the last weeks of winter … head down, bum up and pruning as we are … cheers from Diana, Graham & Mooi at Clonbinane 

ROSE RAMBLER 13.8.2015

ROSE RAMBLER 13.8.2015

Hello dear rose friends as the weather makes a slight shift from extreme cold … it’s only in single degrees upwards but moving in the right direction to encourage rose foliage and subsequent buds to flowers … aaah, the waiting is in some ways rather delightful!

NO, IT IS NEVER TOO LATE … to order roses for planting in your garden and I stress that the most important thing is to ensure garden beds are well prepared prior to planting!  If you have to purchase roses which have been potted and so pay a little bit more, consider that rather than planting into unprepared garden beds!

Last summer, I sent beautiful standards up to Mike in Queensland – in some ways we were both racing – he desperate to have his garden looking lovely for the local Autumn open garden competition, me, very eager to sell roses to a young, enthusiastic guy to be sure he won a prize for his new garden … it was a dismal failure which we both learned from!

Mike had dug holes out on his nature strip, the roses were held up in transit due to Christmas tardiness with Australia Post and although some of the roses survived the torture, Mike didn’t win a prize in the garden competition!  Thankfully, taking my advice, he prepared a garden bed these past months and planted a row of quality bare-rooted standard roses in late July.

Today Mike called me – over the moon, excited and totally enthusiastic about the performance of the standard roses I posted to him this winter … they’re leafing up beautifully and will be flowering within six weeks – total turn-around because he followed our advice and prepared a whole bed rather than just a hole in the grass verge!

Remember, is open for posting roses ALL YEAR and there is no need to rush planting roses in winter!  Prepare the rose beds with lots of compost and manure, seaweed solution every couple of weeks – feed the worms so they aerate the soil and leave their castings – the reward will be strong, sturdy, free-flowering roses for many years of pleasure!


Q.  How do baby hens dance?  A.  Chick to chick! 

I would like to repeat the 5 most essential requirements for growing beautiful roses:

  1. Roses must have at least five hours of direct sun daily;
  2. Avoid planting too close to established trees – trees will take all the water;
  3. Plant with copious amounts of compost – never raw manure or fertilizer;
  4. Never let rose roots dry out – soak with seaweed solution before planting, at planting and fortnightly after planting;
  5. Roses are very adaptable to many soil situations – clay sub-soil is great for roses as it hold nutrients and moisture.

It’s almost FATHER’S DAY so consider sending your Dad this special rose:

FATHER’S LOVE is a most special rose because it’s red, it’s fragrant, it’s lovely in a vase and it’s a very healthy bush – what more could your Dad wish for?  Order online at or gift your Dad a gift voucher from and let him procrastinate for the next six months while he considers which roses he would love to grow in his garden – it’s what men do!
IN CLOSING … Q.  What do you give a bird that is sick?  A. Tweetment.

Enjoy all the moments in your garden this week and hope to see you in Clonbinane soon …

Graham, Diana and Mooi at Clonbinane



Hello dear rose friends; how delightful is it to watch the roses pushing all their new growth and gearing up for spring which is just around the corner – it all happens sooooooo fast! 

Gearing up for spring can we suggest that because of very favourable moon cycles, from this Saturday through to next week is an ideal time for weeding the garden.  To test this theory, go out NOW and pull a weed – there will be resistance despite damp conditions, however, pull weeds in the same location on Saturday and you will find they literally fall out of the ground.

This is not madness – for generations farmers have cultivated and nurtured the land using these theories and if we were all really environmentally aware gardeners, so should we!


This cold weather inspires me to sit by the fire, read and do lots of research for sharing information with you, our Rose Rambler subscribers – there’s a lot of talk about impending drought – because roses are such DROUGHT TOUGH PLANTS, they are a great investment in your garden as they will live for years and years in the most extreme weather conditions!

Q.  What did one flea say to the other?  A. Should we walk or take the dog?

To grow strong, tough rose bushes, place compost around the base of the plants – don’t till the soil or disturb the roots then water over with seaweed solution to encourage soil microbes and worms to breed; mulch the compost with lucerne/pea straw – you’ll grow the strongest, most free-flowering roses which will endure whatever weather Mother Nature intends for this flowering season!

A friend suggested this handy tip the other day but since I don’t take any medications, I didn’t get it – maybe you do:  “Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night!”

Here’s a copy of an interview which was conducted for our local newspaper:

A PRICKLY SUBJECT … An interview with Diana Sargeant @ Silkies Rose Farm, Cnr. Spur and McDonalds Rd, Clonbinane – (by Cathy Soulsby and produced in ‘CLONBINANE COUNTRY’)

Q. At what age did you discover your passion for roses?
A. I met Graham Sargeant, an avid gardener, when I was 25.  Graham began his rose ‘journey’ growing miniature roses, and won the Miniature Rose Championship at the World Rose Convention, Sydney in 1996. From then on I was ‘hooked ‘, so to speak!

Q. How long have you lived in Mitchell Shire?
A. Since I was 9 years old.

Q. What is unique about your ‘ Rose ary’ ?
A. It is a truly sustainable business. No chemicals have been used here for 25 years.  All products sold on the premises are earth friendly, including the Tri Nature range of household/personal care products which we have sold for the last 10 years.  These are bio- degradable and grey water safe.
We offer a design consultancy service, are available to speak to groups, and do pruning and rose care demonstrations at the property.  The Rose Rambler newsletter goes out weekly to 3,000 email addresses.  We think Graham’s jokes are the drawcard, but their source is a closely guarded secret!
I have a radio spot in Melbourne on the 2nd Sunday of every month, on 3CR, 855 AM band, from 7.30 – 9.15 am.

Q. You published your book on organic rose management, ‘All About Roses’ last year. How is it selling?
A. Really well, it has received great reviews, and I have sold into the thousands.

Q. How many helpers do you employ?
A. Besides Graham and myself, we employ 2 casuals.

Q. Can it be a’ thorn in your side’ working with your partner?
A. No, not at all, we both have our jobs to do and work really well together. Over the years, all our children have worked in the business, as well as extended family members.

Q. What are the joys/pitfalls of a home based business?
A. No pitfalls, by reducing our opening hours, we now have a manageable lifestyle business, and literally have time to ‘smell the roses’!

Q. How does the year unfold?
A. Busy, busy, busy!  Winter sees dormant roses being posted all around Australia, but they are also posted year-round for the rest of the season.  From November onwards is flowering time, and we have bus groups visiting. We also attend 3 of the main flower shows in Melbourne and surrounds – October, at Melbourne Showgrounds, November at Werribee, State Rose Garden and April, Tesselaars at Silvan.

Q. Where does the name ‘Silkies Rose Farm” originate?
A. From our love of raising Silkie fowls – now Graham breeds Langshan fowls but we would not consider changing the name of the rose nursery .. giggle! (here is a pic of Graham’s prized cock birds looking at themselves in a mirror on the shed wall – handsome fellows indeed!)

Q. And lastly, do you always view the world through ‘rose coloured glasses’?
A. Absolutely!  We live in the best country in the world, and Clonbinane is our slice of heaven!!   Cheers!

ROSE IDENTIFICATION … we can easily identify a rose when you send photos similar to what Dan sent through this week … he had no idea of the name of the rose from which he had taken a cutting but said that it was a small pink flower with a fragrance, added these photos – without a single photo of the flower, it was very easy to identify the name of this most glorious rose – CECILE BRUNNER which is now out of stock until next season!

Hope you enjoy all the pleasures of winter gardening … cheers from Diana, Graham & Mooi