In memoriam: iconic rose grower and founder of Len Busch Roses

MINNEAPOLIS, USA: In his Acres Online newsletter, Chris Beytes, editor at large of our sister publication GrowerTalks, reports that Leonard S. ‘Len’ Busch, iconic rose grower and founder of Len Busch Roses, passed away on 22 August in Minnesota. He was 90.

Len’s grandfather, Fred Busch, moved from Germany to Minneapolis in 1880 and started growing vegetables on Lyndale Avenue. In 1920, Fred’s three sons moved the business west to the town of Golden Valley, where Busch Brothers Greenhouse began growing flowers and vegetables. That’s where young Len learned the business, working with his father, uncles and cousins. But he also attended Ohio State University, where he earned a degree in floriculture.

In 1965, Len struck out on his own, moving to nearby Plymouth and building what would become Len Busch Roses. He started out growing pompons in a modest 28,000-sqft greenhouse. It wasn’t until 1969 that he started growing roses. Today, the business is led by Len’s son and daughter-in-law, Patrick and Diana, whose four children also play an active role in the business.

Len is survived by his wife of 66 years, Marge; seven children; 21 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and his sisters, Mary and Bernadine.

The ending of Len’s obituary will please many in our industry: it reads, “In lieu of memorials, flowers preferred.”

Ball’s Will Healy, a Minnesota native and graduate and former professor at the University of Minnesota, knew Len and his business well. Said Will, “Len was a real innovator and great human who silently revolutionised the cut flower business in the U.S. I’ll never forget Abe Halevy [founder of the Department of Ornamental Horticulture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a visiting professor at Michigan State and UC-Davis for many years] saying that Len was the best rose grower in the world. This was from THE best rose scientist in the world. Abe would come to Minnesota to learn from Len what the newest issues in rose growing were. Things we take for granted today were ideas and concepts that Len put into action. The industry was better for all that he did.”

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