Dona Martin can talk about roses for hours.
Walking among the 400 rosebushes in her Gilbert family’s back yard, she knows all the quirky names, what country the roses came from and the best way to grow, exhibit and hybridize awardwinning roses in a variety of colors and sizes.
"I like the variety, the rose growers and the thought that roses bring so much joy to other people," said Martin, who started a Web site and puts together a 16-page monthly newsletter for the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society.
The old garden and modern roses of Dona Martin and her husband, Bob, will be available for public view on Sunday as one of six homes featured in a self-guided Mesa-East Valley Rose Garden Tour.
Each rosebush is marked with its own name at the Martins’ garden, from the old standby of "Mr. Lincoln" with its dark red petals and fragrant scent, to "Gemini" with its coral and cream color. "Veteran’s Honor" has rich red petals while "St. Patrick" is yellow tinged with green.
There are miniature roses, shrub roses and a nursery with new, small plants and cuttings, some of which will be donated for the auction at Mesa Community College that will close out Sunday’s rose garden tour at 4 p.m.
Both Bob and Dona Martin write and speak nationally on roses. Bob Martin is the author of "Showing Good Roses" and together they have received many awards on their roses.
This is the third spring for the Martins’ Gilbert garden at their home in Circle G Ranches. The expansive rose garden can be found throughout the 0.8 acre back yard, along with citrus and palm trees and plenty of companion plants.
Tickets and maps of the tour may be purchased at the Mesa Community College public rose garden starting at 10 a.m. Sunday. All six gardens will be open by 11 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m.
Following the tour, participants can return to the MCC Student Center for free ice cream and an auction of more than 100 potted roses and raffle at 4 p.m. under the clock tower. The proceeds benefit the rose society and the care of the MCC rose garden.
Phyllis Humphry, a board member of the rose society and co-director for the MCC rose garden, said the tour is a "great outing day for families to see how other people design their back yards and incorporate roses in their landscaping."
Check it out
What: Mesa-East Valley Rose Garden Tour
Where: The tour begins at Mesa Community College’s public rose garden with 7,000 rosebushes in full bloom, on Southern Avenue east of Dobson Road, and continues to the homes of Mike and Cindy Jepsen in Tempe, Steve and Sue Sheard in Tempe, Bruce and Evelyn Gannon in Chandler, Bob and Dona Martin in Gilbert, Donna and David Dibble in east Mesa and Teresa and Chris McGaughey in Mesa.
When: Maps and tickets can be picked up 10 a.m. Sunday; home gardens are open to view from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Free ice cream, an auction and raffle begin at 4 p.m. at MCC.
Cost: $10; kids 12 and under are free.
Information: (480) 807-3475 or www.roses4az-mevrs.org