Hello Graham,  Please could you tell me how to cope with Lorraine Lee on a climbing fence. She’s got to the top, lots of new shoots there AND in the front. How do I prune it back into order, when all this lovely new growth is not where we want it ?!!    I would SO appreciate some advice IF you have a moment .. ..  many thanks,  Winifred

ANSWER:   Hi Winifred… easy really, just cut it off where you don’t want it to grow!  Lop it if you have to but you be sure to take control and BE THE BOSS of this very lusty climbing rose!  Let me know if you need further advice … cheers Graham


QUESTION: Dear Diana and Graham,
Yesterday whilst pruning standard Iceberg roses I noticed that they were weeping rather profusely just after I had started.
They had not been pruned very well for 6 years and were in a bit of a tangle and mess just above the graft sight.
These roses had not defoliated and were in an open west facing bed with river rocks as mulch. We have had several frosts in Wangaratta so I thought end of July would be ok to prune them. I work as a garden contractor and have my own business. I have been pruning roses for many years with no problems.
However I was surprised by this weeping response and virtually a complete set of foliage.
Is this ok/ normal?
I would appreciate your thoughts.
Cheers Kirsty, Wangaratta

ANSWER: Hi Kristy … I don’t know whether you get my weekly rose rambler but I have been talking for weeks now about how ‘late’ the season is and less than 6 weeks ago, we visited our grower at Kalangadoo (SA border near Penola) and our standard roses were still flowering and fully in foliage!  There was no way we could take those roses out of the ground so our customers had to wait … it has caused grief for some – most especially those who purchase and pay on the internet store – they pay, they want NOW!

Feel it this morning … it’s like a Spring/Summer morning …???
Now, about your issue with the Iceberg you pruned yesterday … I did a massive prune on my Iceberg hedge about four weeks ago and yes, there was that weeping too …. I pruned 3/4 of the hedge because yes, I wanted to see what may occur with frosts still very possible – checked those bushes on Wed/Thur and they’re all fine – no indication of frost burn and we’ve had minus 4 since the pruning!  The buds which I pruned to are still viable and swelling as normal too.

The weeping that you have experienced during this pruning I consider quite normal considering that there was a lot of foliage on the plants – an indication of sap still flowing and not to worry about!  You will notice same when you do a rather severe summer prune when say, you might want to re-locate a rose and to do so, you need to reduce the size of the plant to make it possible to lift it from the ground.
Press on with the pruning!  Enjoy! Diana

QUESTION: Dear Diana and Graham

Thanks Diana, I certainly do get the Rose Rambler emailed and read it with gusto.

There’s not much I can do about the Icebergs as the Client is always right. Going to Norway in 3 weeks time so must get them all pruned before I leave, just Mother Nature challenging us. It will be interesting to see plants north of the Arctic circle. Can’t wait.
Thanks for your support.

ANSWER: Thanks Kirsty … you’ll see heaps of Rugosa roses … right down to the beaches and in roadside plantings everywhere … spectacular greenery with flowers!!!  Shame we don’t do it here instead of all the grassy/weedy plants we use!!!!????  Enjoy your adventure!  Cheers … Diana



So, you want to clothe a rose arch with beautiful roses to create a romantic pleasure in your garden … just a few small issues before we start to select the right rose for your location – think about your priorities relative to colour, fragrance, type of rose flower, etc. and then, how big is the arch? To enable you to enjoy many years of joy from this flowering spectacle in your garden, it is imperative that you select the right rose to suit the size of your arch and we recommend the walkway be around 2 metres wide so that two people can walk comfortably abreast and not be ‘caught’ by the roses – small, flimsy arches are totally inadequate for most roses … the rose will be there for more than 20 years and deserves a structure that will support it!

Then you come to deciding on the colour – here are a few of my recommendations in each different colour range …
PALE PINK – ‘NAHEMA’ – Highly, highly fragrant large flowers continually with lots of canes and mid-green healthy foliage
MID-PINK ‘PINKIE’ – One of the most floriferous climbing roses with thornless canes and dense, lush green, healthy foliage
DARK PINK ‘GUY SAVOY’ – My ‘happy, smiling rose’ … large blooms with slashes of white through the dark pink – highly recommended rose!
DARK RED ‘GUINEA’ – Darkest red, fragrant and totally free-flowering rose suitable for climbing over an arch
RED-RED ‘SYMPATHIE’ – Very free flowering and very healthy with medium sized blooms in clusters
CRIMSON ‘DORTMUND’ – The healthiest foliage graces the abundant single blooms and great Autumn hip production
LEMON-WHITE ‘LAMARQUE’ – Lemon centred pure white blooms over a long season – fragrant and glorious mid-green healthy foliage
BLUSH-WHITE ‘SEA FOAM’ – Amazingly prolific rose producing clusters of flat blooms with masses of petals – glossy dark green foliage
PURE WHITE ‘ICEBERG’ – Very prolific blooming throughout the season with mid-green, healthy foliage
MAUVE ‘BLUE MOON’ – Free-flowering, highly fragrant perfect blooms continually
DARK MAUVE ‘RHAPSODY-IN-BLUE’ – Stunning fragrant blooms with yellow stamens – exceedingly healthy and free-flowering
YELLOW ‘GOLD BUNNY’ – The first and last with flowers and flowers throughout the season too! Stunning yellow climbing rose!
GOLD ‘GOLDEN CELEBRATION’ – Luscious large blooms with high fragrance bloom freely throughout the season
GOLD-RED ‘JOSEPH’S COAT’ – Masses of blooms throughout the season – eye-catching magnificence!
ORANGE ‘WESTERLAND’ – Fragrant blooms continually with shiny dark green, very healthy foliage
APRICOT ‘CREPUSCULE’ – Massive clusters of blooms continually throughout the season – lush healthy foliage
APRICOT-PINK ‘ABRAHAM DARBY’ – One of the most beautiful, charming and fragrant climbing roses flowering throughout the season

Above are just some of the many magnificent climbers which are suitable for an arch in your garden.


CREPUSCULE – Apricot clusters continually
RENAE – Pale pink clusters of highly fragrant blooms continually
PINKIE – Mid-pink clusters continually
ICEBERG – Pure white medium blooms continually
MME. ALFRED CARRIERE – Blush white – first and last to bloom, highly fragrant – suited to planting with clematis
VEILCHENBLAU – Dark purple rambler flowering only in Spring

PILLAR ROSES which are suitable for climbing on fences or walls – these roses reach a certain height and have a fan-like growth habit:

DUBLIN BAY – The most free-flowering pillar rose with glowing red, lightly fragrant blooms continually – extremely healthy!
HIGH HOPES – Mid-pink perfectly shaped blooms continually throughout the season – light fragrance – suitable for the vase
PIERRE DE RONSARD – Heavily petalled cream with pink edged blooms throughout the season
TEASING GEORGIA – Clotted-creamy yellow/apricot blooms in flushes of pure magnificence splayed on a wall!
ALTISSIMO – Bright red, single blooms with yellow stamens – a real ‘in-your-face’ spectacle in the rose garden
TWILIGHT GLOW – Huge pale apricot blooms continually with luscious mid-green very healthy foliage
CYMBELINE – Highly, highly fragrant blooms with swirling mass of grey-pink blooms throughout the season

RAMBLING ROSES – many of which mostly only flower in the Spring with light flowering in the Autumn but deserve a place where space permits because for six weeks you will experience the pure bliss and romance of magnificence which only the rambling roses can deliver:
ALBERTINE – Swirled mass of pinky-apricot blooms in proliferation on a thorny, healthy and rampant rose
MME. GREGOIRE STAECHLIN – Highly fragrant, mid-pink waved petalled blooms of extraordinary beauty – great hips in the Autumn
VEILCHENBLAU – Dark mauve clusters with yellow stamens adorn the rambler so that you can barely see the foliage
WEDDING DAY – Masses of pure-white single blooms in clusters – lush, glossy healthy foliage – thorny
MERMAID – Large, single cream blooms adorn this massive rambling rose spasmodically throughout the season – reverse hooked thorns
NEW DAWN – Pale-pin clusters of medium sized blooms continually throughout the flowering season – thorny beast
NANCY HAYWOOD – Single-petalled, dark-pink blooms reliably continual in good conditions – amazing sight in full bloom
LORRAINE LEE, CLG. – Muddy-pink roses flowering when every other rose is not flowering – tendency to mildew if cloistered!

And, of course, there are more climbing roses for you to consider which might be perfect for the location in your garden where you wish to plant a rose to protect your yard from intruders – use the most thorny! You want to screen the neighbours – use a rose which produces the most lush, healthy foliage! A shade screen for the dog-run … masses of flowers and healthy foliage all season!

To be successful in having the climbing rose do what you require it to do in your rose garden, I recommend you speak with us, Consulting Rosarians who we have the knowledge to ensure that you get exactly the right rose to suit your individual situation!



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!

Roses FAQ



Q.  Can I shift a rose at any time of the year?
A.  Yes, particularly if care is taken to follow this procedure:
* Heavily prune the rose leaving newest 45cm canes – if a climbing rose, canes can be up to 1mt in length
* Dig the rose with a sharp shovel – roots should be trimmed to fit pot or prepared new planting hole
* For potting:  use a 50cm tub and premium potting mix
For planting:  ½ mt x ½ mt rough hole forking root penetration holes in sides, compost and soil backfill
Complete the shift by applying Natrakelp Liquid Seaweed immediately then weekly for the first six weeks using a watering can with a sprinkler (rose) all over the plant – we guarantee success using this method!

Q.  Can I dig around the rose bushes?
A.  Never, ever dig around your rose bushes – if you have an invasive weed problem, dig the rose out completely, remove the weed and replant later.   A well mulched rose garden should not ever need to be dug and digging close to roses can cause the root stock to become active and start growing.

Q.  Can I plant a new rose in the same location as one I recently dug out?
A.  Yes, you can!  However, it is very, very important to rejuvenate the soil prior to planting the new rose.  If you have time to let the soil take a spell for 6-8 weeks, that is ideal.  In the event that isn’t possible, take at least four heaped shovels of soil out of the hole and place on the compost heap.  Place another four shovels of soil from the hole into the wheelbarrow and mix in compost and rockdust (Rose Marvel is great if you don’t make your own compost).  Fork the base and side wall of the planting hole and start replanting your new rose as per the rose planting instructions.

Q.  When should I prune my roses?
A.  Depending on where you live!  Most cities and towns are warm enough to start pruning in the early Winter weeks of June.  Cooler zones might wait until late July-mid August.  In the very cold zones (like here at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane) we can get severe frost to minus 5 three nights in a row late October;  this will damage new growth on early pruned roses (while the Clematis laugh at it!!!).   We do year-round moderate pruning in some beds.
We are currently conducting rose pruning trials where the roses will not be heavily pruned until late Summer-early Autumn to reduce frost damage – stay posted for updates!

Q.  How often and what should I feed my roses?
A.  A half-handful of high quality complete organic fertilizer every 8-12 weeks and regular doses of ‘Natrakelp’ Liquid Seaweed whenever you get the urge but no less than once a month!

Q.  How much water do the roses need?
A.  Regular, consistent watering reduces plant stress and therefore, an automatic watering system which delivers 20 litres per plant per week is ideal.  If you are handwatering roses in the rose garden, count to 20 (slowly) while holding the hose at the base of each rose and you’ll get about 20litres per rose bush pretty accurately – doing it regularly is the key!!  Roses in pots require daily watering!  NEVER water your roses in the evening – the rose leaves stay wet overnight and create fungus problems.

Q.  I live in a unit and want to grow roses … how?
A.  Locate a sunny position on the balcony or in the courtyard;  roses will flourish with morning sun in preference to hot afternoon sun;  purchase self-watering pots 50-60cms diameter – Greensmart Pots are ideal because you could plant two roses per pot and have room for seedling flowers as well!  Always purchase top quality potting mix and with regular feeding and applications of ‘Natrakelp’ liquid seaweed, your potted roses will give you enormous pleasure for many years!  Root-trim and re-pot every couple of years into fresh potting mix.

Q.  What plants can I grow around the roses?
A.  Any number of varieties of annuals and perennials will enhance your rose garden planting.  To discourage pests, many people plant garlic and other herbs – if flowers are your thing, a border of catmint, lavender or rosemary add to the fragrance of the rose garden.  In the rose garden below the front verandah I grow lilliums, anemones, penstemons, catmint, calendular, daffodils & jonquils, rock cyclamen, grannies bonnets,  silverbeet, a clump of daylilies, love-in-a-mist, an Italian parsley border and other ‘stuff’ I don’t know the name of but have nurtured since we took over this garden 13 years ago!  Guess what, there’s still room for weeds!!!
Back on topic … the most important thing to remember about growing any type of other plants in your rose garden is to allow good air circulation around the roses by keeping all the other plants trimmed.

Q.  I only have three hours of sunshine – which rose can I grow there?
A.  We unequivocally will not sell you a rose for that site!  Roses require no less than 5 hours of direct sunshine every day – roses will stress without the sun and never reach their full potential – find a shade-tolerant plant for this location in your garden!

Q.  Can you please show me the thornless roses?
A.  The ‘Iceberg’ series of roses are almost thornless, ‘The Children’s Rose’ and ‘Firefighter’ have thornless flowering stems and the beautiful climbers:  Renae, Crepuscule, Pinkie, Zepherine Drouhin and Mme Alfred Carriere are pretty much thornless.  I usually recommend that gardeners should wear protective gloves when managing the roses and from experience, don’t worry about the little people, they soon work out that not all pretty things should be touched and when the ball goes into the rose bushes, they’ll call DAD … he’ll call MUM!

Q.  How do I plant climbing roses along the fence/shed as a screen?
A.  Climbing roses are an ideal screening plant which, once established, require very little maintenance.  Some climbing roses are more suited to this situation so we therefore recommend consultation before you plant.  Consideration should also be given to the ongoing maintenance of the structure against which the climbing rose will be placed and therefore, constructing a ‘frame’ of ‘star posts’ with reinforcing mesh slightly away from the structure will not only allow good airflow around the climbing roses but allow space for ongoing maintenance of the fence or shed.

Q.  Which roses are suitable to grow as a hedge?
A.  There are so many questions within the answer!  How tall/short?  How wide/narrow?  Mass colour display/picking roses?  One colour/varieties?  With the modern shrub roses, gardeners now have a choice of roses which are suited to hedgerow planting – you decide the colour, specify the height and width and we’ll supply the exact variety to match your specifications and you really should appoint qualified consulting rosarians when choosing the right rose for your individual situation – remember, this rose hedge will be enjoyed by many for more than thirty years!

Q.  Why do Silkies Rose Farm guarantee their roses?
A.  Because we grow the highest quality roses and there is no substitute for quality and a 100% guarantee when you continue to grow the roses to our specifications … Our grower, Brian, doesn’t grow a “sow’s ear and turn it into a silk purse”, he grows the silk purse of roses!  We have been growing roses for 30 years and we take the time to offer you advice, consultation and supreme service!  Take a quick look at our genuine customer testimonials and you can be sure, when you buy our roses, you’ll enjoy the experience!!!

Q.  How do I take cuttings of my roses?
A.  If you have a bit of a ‘green thumb’ and like to be creative in the garden, you’ll enjoy the novelty of taking cuttings of your roses.  Here’s how to:
* Cut a rose cane where the flowers are finished but where the buds have not broken into new growth;
*  Trim pencil-thick 20cm lengths and remove foliage;
* Dip cuttings into hormone powder/honey/vegemite or nothing and push into soil/potting mix;
* Water in with Natrakelp liquid seaweed and depending on weather conditions, light water daily;
From my experience, most cuttings die from either under or over-watering since it’s a very fine line and a mini hot-house is ideal to grow cuttings but then disease problems can be an issue.  Have a go anyway and share your cutting-grown roses with family and friends – take care not to sell them at the local school fete because they might be covered by Plant Breeders Rights or Trademark which means they are illegal to sell without the plant tag since the breeder is entitled to a royalty payment for every plant sold!!!

Q.  Why do Silkies roses perform better than other roses I have in my garden?
A.  Believe it or not, this is a very, very common question from our customers!  Our roses are grown and maintained using the highest quality organic products made in Australia and we (Graham mostly!) are always researching newer and better ways to enhance our growing methods.  When you follow our growing instructions you too will grow beautiful roses, organically, naturally!

Q.  What is the best mulch to use around roses?
A.  The highest quality mulch is definitely lucerne which comes with a price tag to match!  Next in line is pea straw which can come with peas to match!  Both lucerne and pea straw are legumes and nitrogen-fixing which means that when they break down in your soil, they add humus to the soil and are highly recommended, especially when establishing a ‘new’ garden.  Should the cost of lucerne/pea straw inhibit you from using them liberally, we suggest that they be used only around the drip-line of the rose bushes and any of the other mulch products be spread over the whole of the garden bed.