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!



Hello dear rose friends as we enjoy early morning starts to each day – this of course will change when daylight saving commences on this coming Saturday night!


Continuing on from last week, I’ve had this conversation about the picture of mulch too close around roses …

Haha! I see you’ve used my sunburnt VALENCIA picture as an example of putting mulch too close to the plant …I did eventually pull it back, but I had read that pushing mulch over the crown and more or less burying it could stimulate basal shoots, and this did seem to work, there are now 5 strong basal canes. (The white on the leaves is copper spray for black spot). Heaps of buds too. Robynne

Hi Robynne … I don’t remember this earlier discussion with you – I selected the pic from files when I was talking about mulch and had obviously stored your pic in there! It’s an interesting dilemma – some say you shouldn’t cover the crown, others say it works – we do both and find different results probably relative to weather / soil conditions; also the type of mulch can impact too!

I have had wheaten straw down over the crown and it burned water shoot stems – the straw filled with water which literally boiled in really hot weather and when this was close to new shoots, they burned but then eventually recovered.

Great that we all consider these issues when down and dirty in the rose garden – some years, there won’t be an issue with whichever way you mulch, another year / season, things might go pear-shaped and temporarily compromise healthy growth and flowering. I guess that’s what gardening is all about!

Thank you for sharing pics of your recovered VALENCIA – such a lovely rose … cheers – DIANA



I heard somebody say this recently: “Now is the time of year when the bulbs you forgot to plant last autumn will fail to bloom!” Thankfully, I planted hundreds of daffodils and we have enjoyed a most stunning display.

I JUMPED TO THE CONCLUSION … this HAD to be possums …

Many thanks for lots of information on roses but I have a massive challenge as our roses have all had their new rose tips eaten off. (no Roses). They are outside our front fence otherwise I could net. We have a couple of owls on fence (useless) much to passing walkers delight. The Owls bring a laugh. Am I too paranoid? Thanks Graham and Diana. Judy from Croydon

My response:
If the possums continue to eat the new shoots off the roses, the roses will definitely die! You must call the POSSUM MAN to remove the possums I guess? I am at my wits end with trying to solve this issue for gardeners and gardens in Melbourne – it is a potential disaster as so many of my customers have thrown their arms in the air and decided to let the possums have their garden – it’s all too costly and way too frustrating to have their plants eaten by these pests! Sorry I cannot be more helpful! Cheers – Graham

Then Judy wrote:

Sorry Graham . It’s the parrots!!! Help …. Judy

So I wrote back laughing:
Ooooops! Ok … tie HOLOGRAPHIC / REFLECTIVE TAPE to the stems of the branches and be up earlier to shoo them off your roses … a pretend snake would definitely entertain the walkers who pass your fence but you might have the police after you too … how funny would that be!

Headline in the Daily Paper:

WALKER HAS HEART ATTACK AFTER SEEING PRETEND SNAKE ON ROSES … oh, goodness, now my imagination has really gone off! Laughing!!!

Cheers – Gra

This is a LESSON IN LAUGHTER – gardening should be fun at all times and even when you despair at a situation, see the bright side, look for a positive solution and then share the joy of gardening – my reason for posting a silly joke each week!

Q: What’s a gardener? A: A bloke who calls a spade a spade until he falls over one!

There is a serious side to rose gardening too … New foliage is very soft and lush which makes it susceptible to insects who will take advantage of these conditions … see the aphid cycle on this magnificent photo Diana took and which Steve at (Organic Crop Protectants) has labelled so you now know more about aphids and their cycle …

  • White stuff – these are the shells of the aphids which they’ve shed when moulting
  • Winged insect – these are winged adult aphids and not lacewings. When aphids enter their final moulting stage they can emerge as either winged or wingless adults. They produce wings if the area they’re in is already heavily populated with aphids so it allow them to emerge with wings and fly off to find a new feeding ground which is less crowded. Clever trick really.
  • Brown blobs – these are aphids which have had a parasitoid wasp inject an egg into them. When the juvenile wasp hatches it feeds on the insides of the aphid before pupating and then cutting a tiny hold in the shell of the aphid and emerging as an adult wasp. During the whole process the aphid swells up, turns brown and dies.

If you have good numbers of birds in your garden, consider the aphids as a seasonal feast for birds feeding their chicks! Don’t be too quick reaching for sprays to eliminate the aphids if you feel they’re under control … ECO OIL is very effective in controlling the immature/larval-stage aphids which of course, in time, interrupts the breeding cycle! There is no hard and fast KILL with organic rose management so observation is critical – gentle, gentle works and remember, roses recover from all kinds of harsh events without interference!


In case you’ve lost the recipe:

To 10 litres of water add:

  • 1 SCOOP ECO SEAWEED (or whatever seaweed at recommended rate)
  • ¼ CUP ECO ROSE (ECO-FUNGICIDE – same product!)

Mix ALL TOGETHER and shake vigorously to be sure products are well blended then pour over or spray to run-off – NEVER USE THIS SPRAY IN WEATHER OVER 28 DEGREES! Yes, you can spray in the evening if it suits better but plants are very receptive in the cool, early morning conditions which is most ideal!

ALL PRODUCTS for this spray management are available at


Hello all at Silkies: I am enjoying reading your Rose Rambler, lots of advice on good gardening practises.

Just wanted to let you know that Charlton is having their Open Gardens on Sunday the 14th of October. Also the Rotary Club will be having the Annual Art Show, some of your clients might like to know about the event.

Regards Sue, 0407 140 336

Enjoy the gloriously delightful spring weather …
cheers from all of us here at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane