ROSE RAMBLER 11.4.2013

Hello dear rose friends … aaah, the smell of freshly cut green grass on a still and sunny Autumn day; what bliss and most especially since I had my beautiful 5 year old grandson, Logan on the mower with me. He asked me: “Oma, why do I have to stand up” … “there’s only room for one on this seat and you can steer the mower for me”. Within moments I felt his little body become heavy against me as he fell asleep so I popped him up on my left leg and continued mowing …
He quickly became a ‘dead-weight’ and it was almost impossible to steer the mower because his little bum caught on the steering wheel. I stopped and lifted his legs over both of my legs to distribute his weight and continued to mow…. Anybody who drove past the Rose Farm and saw me mowing with a sleeping child in my arms might have wondered what the heck I was up to but the moments were so precious, the grass smelled so glorious, it was still and the sun was shining down on us! Very special memories of Autumn 2013 in my garden …

IN THE ROSE GARDEN THIS WEEK … Because of the low night temperature combined with very moist air, it is essential to get the rose maintenance program happening to avoid black-spot infecting rose foliage!
To 10 litres of water add
¼ cup Eco-rose powder
¼ cup Eco-oil
¼ cup Natrakelp liquid seaweed

Mix well and spray over the rose plants to run-off – this spray program should be conducted prior to 10.00 am if the weather is expected to be over 30 degrees! To maintain healthy foliage while your roses are in bloom from now right up to the early Winter, we recommend this spray program be carried out no less than once a month – fortnightly is even better!

Now is also the time to fertilize all the plants in your garden – apply a good handful of high quality (preferably organic) fertilizer around a square metre at the base of each rose – remember the rose roots are spread out and down! We use and recommend Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF) which is available in 15kg and 25kg bags here at the Rose Farm – the product is what it says, “Complete” and takes the guess work out of feeding ALL the plants in your garden … easy, peasy!

LISTENING TO THE RADIO … and Bing Crosby was crooning …
“Every time you’re near a rose, aren’t you glad you’ve got a nose?”
This Sunday from 7.30am you should tune into the 3CR Garden Show on the AM Band at 855 – I will be part of the panel this Sunday, along with Stephan Ryan, so call in with a rose question – I definitely won’t be crooning!

THE GIFT ROSES … There is a rose suitable to gift for most occasions – here are a few which might be helpful next time you want to “say it with a rose” …

The Children’s Rose – a beauty for any occasion pertinent to a child
Mother’s Love – such a femininely delightful rose for all mothers
Many Happy Returns – birthday gift to remember that special day
Spirit of Peace – suitable for many different occasions
Father’s Love – had to be a glorious red rose for the gents
In Appreciation – when saying thank you just isn’t quite enough
Playboy – if you don’t have one in the bedroom, pop one in the garden
Fire Fighter/Fire Star – for the ‘firey’ in your life
Best Friend – RSPCA rose to remember your best friend
Remember Me – such a wonderful memorial rose

… and the list goes on and on so next week I will give you some more ideas but I must stress that on many occasions over the years when customers have come looking for a memorial rose I am adamant that whichever rose is selected, it must be a very hardy and easy-to-grow rose so that the rose fulfils the purpose of creating pleasure in the garden of the recipient!

In closing, thank you to all of you who visited with us at the Tesselaar Gardening Expo last weekend … what a delightful setting for you to enjoy ‘real’ professional plant growers from around Victoria all in one place.
Keep enjoying this splendid Autumn weather amid the lovely roses in your garden while you prepare another spot for a few ‘newies’ this Winter …

Rose Rambler 07/3/2013

Hello dear rose friends … lovely Autumn is here with us for the next three months – time to get out and seriously enjoy the beauty of gardening!  This is such a great time to plant roses since the soil is still warm, the roses have been in their pots for a few months and right now they’re ready to florish in the open ground.  Planting roses in the Autumn will mean that they’ll settle in well before Winter when you will give them a light prune and by next Spring you have yourself a magnificent established rose garden!

OUR MISSION STATEMENT … It’s timely to remind you of our Mission Statement which has been hanging in our shop for more than 15 years:

1.         Advance the enjoyment of rose gardening;
2.         Educate the public to make gardening simple and fun;
3.         Encourage people to be aware of our environment;
4.         Provide information on the latest research into horticulture and landscaping;
5.         Promote ideas to enable people to be creative in their own gardens.

We are most interested to have your comments as to whether your experience of our business is that we are meeting our commitment to the Mission Statement and to encourage a response, we are offering you 10% off any purchases (plants and products) during the month of March.  To redeem this offer, please email your testimonial and I will send you a voucher … thank you in advance!

ROSE OF THE WEEK … This stunning rose absolutely excels in the cooler weather when it retains a depth of colour, so exclusively all it’s own … “ASHRAM” has lovely dark glossy foliage and the beautiful crimson new shoots add a glorious dimension to the deep burnt-orange flowers.  Fragance is light and every rose is perfect for a vase!

WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN THIS WEEK …  If you haven’t fertilized your roses, now would be a perfect time to feed and because of the recent rain, you should also do the rose maintenance spray program now and again in two weeks to ensure that the rose foliage stays protected against the humidity.  Give the roses a little TLC now and you will enjoy a bountiful display of flowers right up until the Winter.

Saw this saying in my diary this week … pertinent to gardening throughout this past Summer …

If you can find a path with no obstacles,
it probably doesn’t lead anywhere!  

Enjoy the roses in your garden this week …

Cheers from Diana & Graham Sargeant at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane.

Rose Rambler 28/2/2013

Hello dear rose friends, after a glorious few days in the rose fields at Kalangadoo, South Australia, I’m back in the office! In previous years we visited our grower, Brian Wagner around Christmas time. This visit there were fewer flowers in the fields and just to excite you and keep you in the loop, the reason we could see the roses but fewer flowers is that the rose bushes were pruned in late January to be sure they’ll be flowering well so that we can uphold our promise to have more than 200 vases of rose flowers on our stand at
Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show
Wednesday 20th to Sunday 25th March
Carlton Gardens, Melbourne
(Nicholson Street side – “Silkies & Wagners Rose Farms”)

Our visit with the grower is always a very important event on our calendar because we have the opportunity to see the roses growing in the fields and we are able to observe the health, growth habit and true colour and fragrance of the roses being released in the coming months.

We spent a lot of time during this visit firming up our plans for the forthcoming MIFGS where we will be sharing a site to enable us to bring you the most amazing display of field-grown roses supported by FOUR consulting rosarians on site. Bring all your rose queries to Site 19B and we will be able to identify a rose flower or rose problem – we will also be taking orders for the coming bare-rooted Winter roses, so bring your garden design plans and any one of us will assist you to create a beautiful rose garden!

The Rose Rambler 07/02/2013

Hello dear rose friends … another week of very little rain here in North/Central Victoria – exactly 2mm and the garden is gasping.  This is the sort of weather when we are truly pleased that we grow roses because they just love the Summer heat and they all look sensational just to prove the point!

We had some really beaut email responses to the Rose Rambler from last week – lots of snake and spider stories and this is a spider one:

“Hi Diana, big thanks for your email – I have been laughing all day!  And now, just a couple of thoughts for you about your voyeur huntsman……. .  I am sure that you know that flies have those eyes with many, many facets and see everything multiple times at once ………. huntsman do too ……… so now, just think what that huntsman is looking at …….. !   I have a theory that huntsmen are telepathic – that they see things and ‘beam’ the image to all other huntsman within a 20k radius ………… now think about just how many huntsman have seen the same image ………. .  Wow, that is ……….. scary!”

Two days after my episode with the huntsman, he was there checking Graham out – who needs medical examination when you have a resident huntsman?   He’s back in the garden where he belongs!!
Just to confirm to the women who read this, men really are ‘different’ … here’s another funny man story about how to deal with snakes:

Thanks for your Rose Rambler.   Just thought we would let you know that years ago we had a snake under the building of a youth camp in Halls Gap.  The solution was to place a saucer of milk near where the snake went in.  When the sun warmed the milk the snake sensed the smell and came out to it. It worked! The idea was to lean out the window above and drop rocks on the snake – but that didn’t work quite as well.  Cheers from us both ..

Really valuable information and the end of the snake and spider stories – we’ll get serious now and talk about the garden!

TALKING ROSES … Do you walk around your garden, see a particularly glorious rose and give it a name or have a chat with it?  Very often, when I drive in the gate I find myself smiling because I’m sure that the rose “Guy Savoy” is smiling at me … it is my happy-smiley rose.  When I walk past “Abraham Darby” on the little summer house it begs me to stop and take a really good look and especially to revel in the delightful fragrance.  And “Duet” demands my attention – her dark pink colour is so intensely different to any other rose and her waved petals pose a sense of frivolous sexiness … yeah, she’s really sexy!
Because I am in the process of compiling an encyclopaedia of roses I would love it if you could give me your ‘talk’ on any roses in your garden and I will add them to the description in the encyclopaedia.  What are your roses telling you about themselves?  Is what they’re telling you a reflection of your mood?  Are some roses distinctly feminine while others are definitely masculine?  Would you change the name of a rose because it reflects certain traits?  Your input and feedback will be invaluable and probably lots of fun too!!!

ROSE OF THE WEEK … I’ve chosen “FRIESIA” as the queen of the garden and pots too!  Her (see, I sex them when I speak about them!) clear, crisp, lemon-yellow buds open with such magnificent fragrance to display lovely red stamens which the bees just cannot get enough of – she’s really cooling and refreshing to visit and her dark green, serrated foliage is a wonderful foil for the masses of flowers she  produces so abundantly!  Lovely size too … rather slender about 90cms wide and 1.2mt tall.

In closing … Only one week to GO – remember to come along and see the debut of ‘Pearly Petals’ at the GO Festival at Royal Exhibition Buildings, Carlton on 16th and 17th February – only a few FREE PASSES still available so let me know quickly if you would like one of those!  Have a great week – stay cool …

Cheers from Diana & Graham Sargeant at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane.

The Rose Rambler 31/01/2013

Hello dear rose friends … as promised, another ‘Rose Rambler’ from Silkies Rose Farm at very dry, windy Clonbinane!   Here in the State of Victoria we would love some rain to recover our parched gardens while Queensland mops up from floods – in this week of Australia Day, we are all reminded of how truly remarkable Australia is!

YOU CANNOT KILL A ROSE … On 3rd January I packed up three standard roses destined for Gosford, NSW – Graham personally saw them onto the courier truck.  A week passed and our customer rang, he hadn’t received his roses and was getting concerned.  I assured him that the roses were very well packaged and they would arrive in the coming few days – he rang after ten days, then fourteen days.  The couriers assured me our customer had received his roses and I eventually tracked the roses to the forwarding courier depot in Shepparton.  The carton was delivered back to Clonbinane on 21st January – to my absolute delight and surprise, the roses had lost all their leaves however, the potting mix was beautifully damp and there were new watershoots on two of the roses!  I placed them in a solution of Natrakelp liquid seaweed and they were trimmed and potted later that day – ten days on and they have new foliage and are performing as though they never went through the trauma of being un-potted, packaged, shipped and left-for-dead at the courier depot … oh, if only they could talk!!!
Just for the fun of it, please send an email with your thoughts in about 200 words of how those roses may have endured the 21 days after leaving the nursery – all entries received before 7th February will receive a FREE bush rose of your choice when you come to the Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane, during the month of February.  This is not a competition but a fun exercise! 

FEEDBACK … I had lots of calls and emails from people who were pleased to hear my plea for us all to take care of the street trees in our neighbourhoods.  There is talk of us experiencing a wet Autumn so until we get good, deep-soaking rains, please continue to water trees in your garden and on your street – the trees are such an intrinsic part of the infrastructure of the space we live in and we must ensure they survive this hot, dry and windy Summer!

IN THE ROSE GARDEN THIS WEEK … If the roses are being irrigated, continue the Summer pruning program, leaving a good cover of foliage to shade the plant – light fertilizer application is recommended and certainly apply liquid seaweed.   A thick layer of mulch will preserve any moisture in the soil and keep the microbes and worms alive!

SNAKE WARNING … Within moments of watching Graham try to kill a snake by the front door yesterday afternoon, I answered a phone call from our insurance broker … we saw the snake go under the house and I asked Lerrell if maybe we should take out life insurance and did he have any advice on how to be rid of the snake?  He rang back within moments and suggested we get a mouse, tie it to a piece of string and dangle it at the edge of the house, then go and park the cars facing out towards the gate!  By this time, Graham was hauling a 44 gallon drum into the back room of the house and making an almighty amount of noise banging on the drum…??  Men, I give up and keep on giggling because otherwise, I’m sure I might be crying at their craziness and lack of sensibility!
Yesterday morning I thought I might have a slightly longer than usual shower since I had spent the previous day planting shrubs and roses on the north side of the driveway and the bones needed loosening … that was until I saw I was sharing my space with the biggest huntsman spider I’ve ever seen!  Some days are diamonds .. some days not!

Keep smiling until I share with you next week …
Diana & Graham Sargeant & Dingo, Bonnie, at Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane
P.S. Put the dates 16th & 17th February in your diary – I will be at the Royal Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne with our ‘stepping out’ exhibition of ‘Pearly Petals’ – FREE passes still available!

The Rose Rambler Special 25/1/2013

After many months of research and fine-tuning, we are excited to tell you all that
‘Pearly Petals’
is now available at the website: or and I will be exhibiting on
Saturday 16th  &  Sunday 17th February

GO Festival
Royal Exhibition Buildings, Carlton

and also at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show (MIFGS), Carlton Gardens, from 20th – 25th March – stay posted for more information in following Rose Ramblers!

The GO (Girls Only) FESTIVAL is a weekend of celebrating women of all ages – it’s about taking time out to relax with friends while enjoying cooking demos, fashion parades, entertainment and the opportunity to see all things relative to being a woman at one exhibition!  To find out more, visit the website at  or

Because I would love you to see my exhibition on 16th & 17th February, I am offering 10 x single passes and 5 x double passes to you on a first-in-first-gets basis … simply call in at the Silkies Rose Farm, Clonbinane on any of our open days and you may collect one of either of the above passes … FREE!



The Rose Rambler 24/1/2013

Hello dear rose friends … welcome to 2013 – may this year be a really grand year for your roses!  How easy it is to become complacent and expect the water to fall from the sky – according to one of my very special ‘old’ customers, Carmel, this particular period of weather is worse than all of the twelve years of drought and I couldn’t agree more!

By request, The Rose Rambler is now coming to your Inbox every Thursday.

If the street trees and plants in your locality are suffering through this unusually hot, dry period, please contact your local Council and ask them to come and water.  There is plenty of water in storage around the country and if you stop and consider the fact that when plants die, the replacement costs are far greater than what it would cost to help them through this dry spell … sometimes Mother Nature needs a hand and if you could extend a hand right now, I know she will be most grateful!!!  Driving around the streets in Melbourne last week was almost heartbreaking – the street trees are gasping for water and if you have a tree outside of your home, please give it a good soak … reduce your shower time to save the plants in your garden and on your street too!

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The encylopaedia of roses.
Our new website will be launched in the coming weeks, focusing on everything roses.
A complete listing of every rose in Australia, hints and tips about growing roses and an in-depth look at events for rose lovers.

So why are the plants dying when they had such great rain over recent times?  Very perplexing because we thought the subsoil would be lovely and moist and keep everything in order … well, apparently, because of the very wet season, our plants produced lots of surface roots (deep roots literally ‘drowned’ because there was too much moisture) and then of course, with the incredible heat and dry conditions, those surface roots have also died!  When you visit Silkies Rose Farm at Clonbinane, take a good look at the trees which are not coping with the current weather conditions … those trees were sodden during the rainy seasons and now they’re turning up their toes – 3 of our more than 20 year old established eucalyptus trees have suddenly died!  Some oak trees are severely stressed and the west-facing (15+ year old) maples are all burned.  Unfortunately, we can’t see what’s going on in the soil and as in our situation now, we only became aware of a problem when the trees started showing signs of severe stress!  Hopefully all the trees will survive because they are such an intrinsic part of the infrastructure of our gardens … please, please deep soak your trees and give them some liquid seaweed!

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Pearly Petals, a beautiful new product from Silkie Gardens.
Our Rose Rambler next Thursday will give you all the details of this great new enhancement to your dining table. Here’s a sneak peak.