Rose Rambler 9.5.2019

ROSE RAMBLER 9th MAY, 2018 …
Hello dear rose friends as we celebrate with you – the rain finally arrived just when you thought it might NEVER rain again! We hope the rain continues so that farmers can sow their crops – the soil was parched this past summer and we know feeding stock became financially unviable for many … may that all change now!

I read this yesterday and I think we can all action this statement by Peter Guber:

“The great majority of that which gives you angst never happens,
so you must evict it. Don’t let it live rent-free in your brain.”

May all you beautiful MUMS, GRANDMOTHERS and GREAT-GRANDMOTHERS enjoy special treats from your loved ones this Mother’s Day … remember I told you this when you get brekky in bed .


ROSES IN MAY … it’s that time of year when the roses are ready to have a break – their one means of losing foliage to become hardened up for winter pruning, is to potentially incur yellow leaves with black spot so the foliage cannot photosynthesise. The foliage drops, the plant becomes bare, you prune it, it rests for winter and the next minute, it is sprouting foliage again and then very soon after, it’s flowering!

This is a cycle with a whole lot of ‘stuff’ in between – most awesomely, beautiful flowers pretty consistently for around 7-9 months depending on the climate where you live. All very, very special SO, ENJOY THE LAST BLOOMS BEFORE WINTER!


Perth had significant rainfalls weeks prior to our arrival so we saw great expanses of GREEN when it’s been a long time since we saw that anywhere in our locality despite the patches of green which the kangaroos enjoyed. We loved riding bikes all about the area where we stayed and we also visited rose nurseries – so very, very interesting how different WA is to our eastern states.
WA gardens are mostly grown on straight sand – to get a rose established requires almost daily deep-soaking watering; in hot weather, twice a day is best. We saw roses in nearly every garden on several kilometres of the road where we walked each day … we felt quite at home and could have stayed for weeks but, the Rose Farm will become a very, very busy place in a few short weeks and there are tasks requiring our input … darn!

Here are pics of a few glorious roses which are flowering beautifully despite severe
frost last week:


Delbard Couture Collection Shrub Rose which produces one of the most durable flowers of any rose we stock.
Raised by Delbard, France, this extraordinary double rose has intense deep blood-red blooms with the most striking fluted and outward curved petals which age to almost black and then fall cleanly from the bush.


produces masses of lightly fragrant deep mauve blooms in clusters all over a very healthy, well rounded shrub continually throughout the season – a lovely rose to gift when you want to say a significant “Thank You” to somebody special!


is a David Austin Rose of immense charm because it’s variety of colours in yellow, gold and cream – a beautifully rounded shrub with complimentary mid-green, very health foliage makes this a stand-out rose on a border of the rose garden.

MOLINEUX is particularly happy in a very HOT SPOT in your garden where it will produce masses of blooms continually throughout the flowering season.

We wish you pleasure in your beautiful autumn garden – be sure to rake the leaves and pop them all over your compost heap!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to you all … I’ll be at Melbourne radio 3CR from 7.30 am until 9.15 am this Sunday morning while Diana slumbers on her special day! You will find 3CR at 855 on the AM band – call in with a question … talk to you then … GRA

Best wishes from all of us here at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane .

Cheers from us all here at SILKIES ROSE FARM, Clonbinane
Within 500 metres of the CLONBINANE INTERCHANGE
on the Hume Freeway, 60 kms north of Melbourne
9 – 4 PM – PH. 03 5787 1123 …


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


Hello dear rose friends from sunny Clonbinane where most mornings we wake up to see frost … STILL! There’s been minor damage … see below for more information on how to manage any frost affected plants in your garden…


Q: What do baby crabs wear? A: Nippy-nappies.


is seriously one of the most important tasks you can undertake NOW while there is still good soil moisture deep down in the sub-soil/clay. To conserve this moisture and have your roses send their roots way down and anchor themselves for years of robust, healthy growing and flowering, I recommend you place a good thick layer of mulch around the entire garden bed.

Notice when we mulch here, there is a ‘biscuit’ of pea straw along the border – this stops birds flicking loose straw out of the bed and we generally place a thick layer of damp newspaper under the ‘biscuit’ to inhibit weeds coming into the garden bed!

In the actual garden bed, the pea straw (or bale of whatever mulch you prefer) is pulled apart and fluffed-up – nice and thick – this also allows fertilizer pellets to find their way down onto the soil. NEVER REMOVE THIS LAYER OF MULCH because soil microbes are actively working to enhance your soil and you could, by exposing them to sunlight, destroy those beneficial microbes very quickly!

Be sure to allow at least 5-10cm of space around the crown of each rose.


As this allows sunshine and space for new water-shoot development.


No matter which product you prefer to use, it’s imperative to get MULCH ON YOUR GARDEN NOW! We’re expecting a long, hot summer and we don’t want your roses to suffer or your water-bill to be excessive – ACT NOW!


Some roses in lower areas of our garden are seriously frost damaged but we are not going to prune ANYTHING MORE off them until the first flowering in November and I urge you to do the same where frost damage is evident. From previous experience here at Clonbinane, I assure you that ALL YOUR ROSES WILL RECOVER and flower this spring. During severe frost last winter, this FATHER OF PEACE, FRANCIS MEILLAND rose was severely frost affected.

The rose recovered and was magnificent this past season. It might take several years to fully remove all blackened branches – diligent summer pruning is an advantage – we’ll cross that bridge when we get there!


Has the most amazing darkest purple petals which exude enormous fragrance! Glossy, extremely healthy foliage adorns the rounded shrub which grows to 1.2 metres and the flowers are long-lasting in a vase – must have!

Was one of the most outstanding and alluring roses we saw in the rose fields this past summer when we went to check-out all the new release roses … stunningly healthy foliage on a sturdy, rounded shrub just over 1 metre tall smothered in large blooms of brightest pink – and, it’s beautifully fragrant to boot!! Lovely and already a favourite …

no rose garden would be complete without a stunning bright orange rose which produces long-stemmed, perfectly formed blooms which are brilliant to use in vases! This beautiful rose has dark reddish foliage which is a perfect foil for the orange flowers – a beauty and very highly recommended …

Q: What type of underwear packs a punch? ? A: Boxer shorts!

Hope you’re enjoying all the glory which spring offers us gardeners – Graham


This weekend is the last opportunity you’ll have to order BARE-ROOTED ROSES because the roses are now POTTED and beautifully foliaged, lots of roots in the coir-fibre potting mix and some are even budding! Yes, we have flower buds despite minus 2 frosty mornings!

In between watching the footy this weekend, scroll through and order a few roses to plant for flowering throughout this season and for years to come!

Happy gardening from the team here at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane …


Welcome dear Rose Friends to spring when the roses come to life again after their winter hibernation – not, of course, true for those in northern climates – you’re already flowering but let me tell you this … Melbourne rose gardens are also flowering NOW! I’ve had several customers call to ask “What should I do? I’ve got flowers on my roses!”

I guess you know what my response would be … ENJOY THEM! Of course!

Lots of our customers leave southern areas seeking warmth during winter – if any of you are coming home now or in a few weeks, if you didn’t prune prior to leaving home, happily go about and prune your rose garden. Flowering might be a little later than usual but you’ll be staggered at the size and quality of the blooms when they arrive in early summer!


Late last summer I planted hundreds of EARLY FLOWERING DAFFODILS and the gardens here are spectacular now despite heavy frosts – the bright yellow daffodils are so warming and a lovely reminder that spring is in the air!

Q: What do you get if a giant steps on Batman and Robin? A: FLATMAN & RIBBON!

Since it’s nearly the end of bare-rooted season, I want you to consider planting a hedge-row of one of the following varieties which I see are still in the heel-in bed:

One of the most strikingly pretty, very free-flowering and robust roses you could wish to have – add to that, incredible fragrance, extremely high health and you’ll be stunned with a row of three or more of this magnificent rose.

Creates a low hedge to around 1 metre tall and it is never without heads of flowers which are ideal for a vase – it’s magnificently fragrant, and produces the darkest crimson red blooms constantly in a west-facing garden.

Is so awesomely pretty that when people step from their car in the top carpark they are drawn to visit this beauty which produces long stems of roses which are suited to use as a lasting cut-flower – a hedge or group of three or more plants will offer you masses or gorgeous blooms in vases throughout the flowering season!

Q: Why wasn’t there any food left after the witches party? A: Because everyone was a goblin.


All organic mulches conserve water by reducing evaporation due to sun and wind, they supress weed growth and feed earthworms and many other microbial insects vital to balance the eco-system of the soil in your garden. Organic mulches hold and retain moisture for their use in hot weather!

Straw (wheaten, oat, barley, pea) can be used very effectively in times of dry weather. There is no doubt that lucerne straw is by far the most superior mulch because it breaks down and adds beneficial nutrients to the soil – right now, however, most lucerne will be used for drought affected animals!

Mulch of woodchips / leaves / animal manure around roses and other plants is effective however, apply lime over the soil every second or third year to counter possible acidity. I will talk more about soil health after my attendance at a SOIL WORKSHOP this past weekend. IMPORTANT: get a good cover of any of the above mulch products over your soil as soon as you have weeded the garden this week!

I’m sneaking another joke in …

Q: Why did the greyhound breeder take dog food to bed? A: Because he wanted to feed his nightmares!


“Dear Diana, I would like to say, that of the 32 bare root roses we’ve ordered this season, your root stock and your packaging thereof is by far the best, by far. Thank you very much. With kind regards, Jo-ann”

to which delightful message and a peek at the fact that Jo-ann had purchased SIX roses from us, I emailed …

“WOW … how lovely is this? I’m so thankful when our customers take time to praise our roses and service … you be sure to enjoy a lovely flowering season for years to come! Best wishes and thank you! Diana

It didn’t end there … Jo-ann had the last say:

“It is not for you to thank me….it is for me to thank YOU!!!! 🙂 Thank you, again! 🙂 With kindest regards, Jo-ann”.

During the next few weeks we’ll happily post our roses knowing they’re bouncing to be planted in your garden – we pack them so well and remember, OUR ROSES ARE 100% GUARANTEED TO GROW IN YOUR GARDEN – especially if you follow all of Graham’s recommendations for healthy growing! Weekly Eco-Seaweed solution over your roses in the first six weeks after planting will ensure the plants settle well – please don’t EVER let them dry out before planting and please, DON’T EVER OVERWATER once they’re planted!

Enjoy the happiness of this first week of spring in your garden … cheers from the team here at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane …


Hello dear rose friends and thank you so much for your supportive emails regarding what we all might do to assist our gardening friends in this drought-stricken country!


Yes, it’s warming up around the country but we are confident of posting bare-rooted roses – as long as when you receive them, you soak them from anything for an hour to more than 24 hours in ECO SEAWEED – a sachet is provided in every parcel of roses!

Once planted and deep-soaked, don’t over-water the roses! Weather conditions vary so it’s very difficult for us to tell you how frequently to water your rose garden … please, please be WATER-WISE and mindful of responsible water use in your garden!


… start this story with a smile: Q: How did the witch know it was exactly 12 o’clock midday? A: She used her witch watch. (wrist watch perhaps? Editor)

I guess most of you have pruned you roses by this time – we’ve still got some garden areas to prune – as soon as all the roses are pruned I will fertilize the entire garden with our COMPLETE ORGANIC FERTILIZER – COF – and I recommend you source a really high-quality organic fertilizer which is available in your area.

Why organic fertilizer?

  1. Plants take in organic fertilizer when they need it
  2. Earth worms will break down the fertilizer helping to balance the soil eco system

You should never place fertilizer in the planting hole when planting a new rose – always fertilize established plants – around six weeks after planting.

Fertilizing roses is essential because they are so productive with their growth and flowering over such an extended period – once established, fertilize the soil around your roses with a quality ORGANIC FERTILIZER every 8 – 12 weeks – in between times, liberally apply seaweed solution over the plants at least monthly – more frequently if you have time!

Q: What do you call a cheerful flea? A: A Hop-timist.

Here are a few of my very best recommendations for climbing roses to use to screen an ugly fence which will also inhibit intruders into your property due to their aggressive thorns!

One of the loveliest rambling roses you could ever plant …

This rose is so adaptable – would suit scrambling over the ground as a large ground-covering clump, glorious as a weeping rose and definitely would inhibit anything coming through or over a fence at your place …

For an amazingly glorious display throughout the season, this prickly rose will afford immense security when scrambling over your front fence!


Both Ben and I will be attending this workshop on 1st September – If you’re at all interested in knowing more about the soil in your garden, do book for this seminar – we’ll see you there.

There’s a build-up of excitement with spring in the air … do put this important event in your diary – a visit to the Yea Garden Expo will afford you a great day out in the country.

Enjoy the last days of winter and don’t be hassled if you haven’t pruned yet … we’re still busy pruning here …




Hello dear rose friends, as the rain tumbles down on us here at Clonbinane and our gardens are sopping wet which makes us want to share even more diligently with our northern neighbours who are bone dry and in a most dreadful drought. We urge you to kindly contribute whatever you can …

This plea came from my Rotary Club today:

“In Australia, farmers are the lifeblood of our country and they are in crisis. Record breaking heat and lack of rain means farmers are struggling to feed sheep and cattle, and keep crops alive. Families on the land are suffering and they need our help. Channel 9 and Rotary Australia have partnered with the National Farmers’ Federation, launching an appeal to big business and everyday Australians, so we can provide some emergency relief. 100% of donations goes to the farmers and is tax deductible via Rotary and RAWCS. Every dollar counts.”

The link for the donation page for the project is:

The RAWCS website home page has the link also:


If that doesn’t work, please don’t give up but direct your donation to this destination: and know that every single dollar you contribute to a Rotary project will go DIRECTLY where you want your donation to go!

Please let me indulge by sharing this email exchange just this week:

Hello Val … thank you for your order. What a lovely selection of roses I’ll be posting to you tomorrow! Enjoy these beauties in your garden … best wishes.

Thanks Diana- I can’t wait for them to flower- I just pray for some rain… We live on a farm with no food and handfeeding 300 alpacas. Might have to use our house water to keep the roses alive. Val

This is the story of our gutsy Aussie farmers – our mates who are the backbone of our magnificent country – get behind them NOW in their deep time of need and open your purse so they might receive a free load of feed or a tanker of water for their animals.

How delightful that Val purchased rose plants for her garden during this time of amazing hardship – when I first ventured into horticulture in early ‘80’s one of my mentors (who is a rose cut-flower grower) told me that during the Depression, cut flower sales sky-rocketed because people wanted something beautiful in their homes – flowers gave them joy and a sense of hope for a brighter future!

Let’s hope our donations and roses bring joy and a sense of hope to our gardening friends who are also farmers during this dreadful drought!


Here’s a thought: What’s the use of consulting a doctor about a cold when he gives you a heart attack with the bill?

Stay healthy in these remaining days of winter by rugging-up and getting down and dirty in your garden by pulling weeds – they’re small weeds now but will turn into BIG WEEDS as the sun shines warmly.

Turn all those little weeds into compost or weed-tea by placing them in a receptacle (perhaps a 44 gall drum or an old garbage bin – whatever you can find really), pour water over them to the brim of the container and pop a lid on … DON’T PLACE THIS CLOSE TO THE HOUSE as it will, despite having a lid, emit the most amazing stench!

Stir the brew once a week if you’re brave; add a bit of eco-seaweed powder too. After about 8 weeks of fermentation dilute one part to ten and pour over the entire garden as a totally organic fertilizer / tonic for your garden. Start the brew again!

Q: What sort of lollies do koalas eat? A: Chewing gum.


Precious water from your bath, basin, shower, washing machine and kitchen sink can be invaluable to water your garden.

The best results will be obtained where sullage waste water is derived from house fixtures where all soaps and detergents are plant or herbal based – we use and highly recommend products – all Australian-made!

Flexible pipe can be connected to waste pipes and shifted around garden beds, placed in locations to water valuable trees and with minor management of shifting every couple of days, especially on washing day when there will be potentially more waste run-off.

Here’s our run-off pipe – sometimes extended with more flexible pipe …


“Hi, I am wondering if you are able to assist me. Would you have roses in the name of: Carol, Tony / Anthony, I know you didn’t have Marianne – but anything close maybe even Anne? Many Thanks – Karen”

Our usual response: Not able to assist in ANY way with that lot of names … SORRY! Perhaps if you’re able to give us a clue as to why you need roses in those names we might be able to offer some lovely alternatives ???

There are such beauties like:




Or there’s: HEAVEN SCENT, BEST FRIEND, SOUL MATE/SISTER, MOTHER’S LOVE, FATHER’S LOVE, GRANDMA’S ROSE … these are all quality roses which are sure to please the recipient for many years in their garden! Other roses might have the ‘right’ name but they’re just not ok for an average garden … when we say that, here’s an example.

You can get a rose called WEDDING DAY which is a beast for thorns, flowers once in each season and you need an axe to prune it! A stunning rose in the right location!


However, if you get the right advice and purchase THE WEDDING ROSE … the gift is an immensely pretty rose which flowers and flowers, has an amazing fragrance and is simply delightful as a GIFT ROSE on the occasion of a wedding.


If we can assist with your selection for posting the most beautiful and appropriate GIFT ROSE, don’t hesitate calling (03) 5787 1123 during our business hours of FRI, SAT, SUN, MON or emailing us at … Cheers

Here’s a picture of a GIFT ROSE ready for posting … did you even notice there are no flowers on this lovely rose beautifully gift-wrapped? Probably not, because recipients of the GIFT ROSE are telling us how significant the rose is; it will flower eventually and that will hold a whole new meaning! Nice!!!


See you at Clonbinane soon … cheers from the team!


Hello dear rose friends as we notice when the sun peaks through, it’s quite warm; perhaps a sign that the freezing cold days of winter are almost behind us?


We are at the ‘disappointment’ stage … a few rose varieties which were planned to arrive this winter just won’t come this season! There have been a few miscalculations with budding which means we just don’t have adequate numbers of a few varieties. When budding roses, there is a short ‘window of opportunity’ to harvest budwood and then bud roses during November to January.

If there’s a glitch in budding, it’s a whole other season before a particular rose variety is available – some just didn’t make it this past season. Luckily, there’s usually a substitute which is potentially better than the variety you selected! However, we highly recommend ‘patience is a virtue’ when waiting for a rose variety which is ‘special’ and very important for whatever reason made you select it in the first place!

During the next TWO WEEKS we will contact EVERY CUSTOMER who has an outstanding order at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane or to advise the status of your existing order.



Roses travel extremely well – some varieties will have been professionally pruned because we are now getting on with potting the roses to give them a head-start for spring flowering; they are planted into a 20cm black plastic pot filled with our supreme quality coir-fibre potting medium and are both root and stem pruned prior to potting so they’re in perfect condition for planting when established in the pots.

From this ….

to this …

Another two huge consignments arrived on Tuesday – all the roses need to be graded, labelled, sorted and tucked into the moist, friable soil we call the ‘heel-in-bed’. From there we hope to be able to contact you and advise that your order is ready for collection – if the roses are being posted, you’ll receive Auspost tracking notification!

Q: What’s the best way to catch a rabbit? A: Hide in the bushes and make a noise like lettuce.


We’ve sent lots of roses to Carrie in Far North Queensland and she’s stayed committed and experimented … have a look at her lovely roses which were only posted this winter …

Carrie’s bagged roses

Here’s Carrie’s inspirational email …

Hey Graham … Thought I would send a pic of my new roses to show you how they’re doing, and I’m really happy! Two blooms already.

I did things a bit different this year. I decided to pot them in 25 litre grow bags so I can easily repot them next year into a 32 litre plastic pot.

I used Rocky Point’s Eco Potting Mix. I chose this one because it doesn’t have any heavy duty fertiliser in it, so it seemed quite gentle for bare root roses. They got a seaweed soak when I potted them and I’ve also been giving them a weekly soak with Charlie Carp. Also, I used organic sugar cane mulch.

Next year, or sooner if they need it, I’m going to repot them with Rocky Point’s Coco Pro Potting Mix. I’ve been doing lots of research on potting mixes and I reckon this is probably one of the best. I repotted a couple of last year’s roses that looked like they were on their last legs but they really bounced back with this mix.

So, all is good. I’m still battling insects but I’m using a home made mix of chilli and garlic which seems to be working…fingers crossed. Have a great day. Regards …Carrie

If you live in a rental property and want to grow roses, those 25 litre grow bags look like a fabulous way to create a ‘portable’ or ‘mobile’ garden! Thanks for sharing Carrie!

Q: What did the skunk say when the wind changed direction? A: Ahhh, it’s all coming back to me now.


Some rose gardeners think the striped roses are horrid and it took us a while to get used to them too however, here are a couple of the very best which you cannot help but fall in love with!




Don’t panic if you haven’t pruned your roses yet … the longer you wait, the more time you give them to show you EXACTLY WHERE TO PRUNE … go gently and enjoy the experience! Take a look at the new roses you planted this winter – give them a prune too now that they’re shooting new leaves – prune down to the strongest looking growths!