Rose Lady’ brings a wealth of information to local gardeners

Rose Lady’ brings a wealth of information to local gardeners

Roses may also be the most symbolic, associated over millennia with beauty, love, war and even politics.

Loretta Fritz


Roses are easily one of the world’s most beloved flowers. They may also be the most symbolic, associated over millennia with beauty, love, war and even politics.

Fossil evidence dates wild roses back 35 million years in North America, 70 million in northern Africa and Asia. The cultivation of roses, however, did not begin until 5,000 years ago.

Today, roses offer up something for everyone. Centuries of hybridizing have resulted in an impressive array of varieties (some 30,000, many with improved disease resistance), scents and colours.

And roses come in so many forms. There are climbing roses, landscape roses, hybrid tea roses (those of the gorgeous bouquets), miniature roses, old roses, species roses, modern large-flowered roses … Surely, even the pickiest of gardeners and landscape designers can find a rose that meets their requirements.

If you grow roses, if you are contemplating growing roses, or if you are not growing roses because someone told you that they’re not worth the effort, you won’t want to miss this month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club. The topic is Growing Amazing Roses, and it is definitely possible to do so.

Rosarian Dion Latavniks, a.k.a. The Rose Lady, is the featured speaker. She will talk about choosing the best roses for your garden, locating and fertilizing them, preventing/controlling diseases, and, most importantly, pruning them properly.

A professional horticulturist for nearly 25 years (22 of those as manager of garden centres), Latavniks has rose/garden-related credentials up the wazoo.

In the mid-1990s, she served on the board of Friends of Government House, doing integrated pest management in the rose gardens and redesigning the sunken rose garden. She has belonged to many and various garden clubs, including the Canadian Rose Society (she was an accredited rose judge) and the American Rose Society. She has written articles for various publications and taught at Malaspina College and the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific.

Latavniks notes that her garden once included about 200 roses. Over the years, however, increasing shade and deer have taken their toll, leaving her with around 80.

Retirement has brought a change in focus as well. As she puts it: “My favorite type of gardening now is lawn chair gardening, with a glass of wine in my hand and smelling the roses!”

This month’s meeting takes place on Feb. 15, a week earlier than usual. There will also be a parlour show and seed exchange. Please join us at 7 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Church on Townsend Road.

Annual membership is $15, and new members are always welcome. No gardening experience necessary.

Questions? Visit our website at or email us at


Submitted by the Sooke Garden Club.


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