Pesche–Leider Horticultural Traditions Are Recognized in New Luxembourg American Cultural Center’s Luxembourg Garden
This past August, the new Luxembourg American Cultural Center was dedicated in Belgium, Wisconsin, just north of Milwaukee. His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg came to Wisconsin to join the Luxembourg American Cultural Society (LACS) for the dedication ceremonies. Wisconsin Green Industry Federation (WGIF) Treasurer Ron Pesche and wife Sue of Luxembourg Gardens met with him as they toasted the new Pesche-Lieder Garden on the grounds of the Center.
Hundreds gathered for the event including numerous dignitaries from Luxembourg and the State of Wisconsin. Honored guests included His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg accompanied by Prince Felix, Prince Louis and Prince Sebastien, who traveled to the United States on a private visit for the dedication.
Other dignitaries included His Excellency Jean-Paul Senninger, Luxembourg Ambassador to the U.S., Madame Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, former Minister of Culture, Mr. Guy Dockendorf, Director General – Ministry of Culture, Honorary Consul General Donald J. Hansen, Honorary Consul General Robert Schaeffer, and Honorary Consul Robert Biwer. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and First Lady Jessica Doyle along with representatives from the Wisconsin Departments of Commerce, Tourism, and Education were on hand, as well as our favorite Luxembourgers—Ron and Sue Pesche.
“(l to r) State Senator Glenn Grothman, Ron Pesche, Alice Pesche Kalal (Ron’s aunt), Richard Skala (Ron’s uncle), Grand Duke Henri, Frank Pesche (Ron’s father), and Mary Pesche Skala (Ron’s aunt).”
A formal Luxembourgian garden that pays tribute to two of the most prominent Luxembourg American greenhouse families – Pesche and Leider – and the horticultural tradition of Luxembourg immigrants on Chicago’s northside is one of the features of the new Luxembourg American Cultural Center. In recognition of a major financial gift to the Cultural Center’s capital campaign from the Pesche and Leider families, the garden at the Cultural Center has been named the Pesche – Leider Luxembourg Garden.
The Pesche – Leider Luxembourg Garden features a traditional, Renaissance garden as found in Luxembourg including perimeter hedges, perennials, annuals, and crushed granite walkways. The Garden is located adjacent to the rebuilt 1872 Mamer-Hansen stone barn, which will house the Cultural Center’s Roots and Leaves Museum. It features historic signage telling the story of the Pesche and Leider’s horticultural tradition.
The Pesches have a long tradition in the horticultural industry. Ron is a third generation horticulturalist. His grandfather, Ferdinand Pesche, Sr., immigrated from Folschette, Luxembourg to Chicago around the turn of the 20th century. He first began a growing business in Evanston, but in 1923 he started Pesche’s Greenhouse in Des Plaines, one of the largest greenhouse businesses in metro-Chicago – a business still operated by Ron’s father and brother Chris. Ron’s grandmother also was part of Chicago’s horticultural tradition being a member of the Leider Family, another family that continues to make its mark in the greenhouse industry in metro-Chicago.
“Governor Jim Doyle and First Lady Jessica Doyle with the Grand Duke and Prince Felix at the dedication ceremony.”
Ron worked at Pesche’s Greenhouse in Des Plaines until he and his wife Sue purchased Marge’s Leaf & Petal in Franklin in 1988. When asked why he changed the name of the business to Luxembourg Gardens, Ron stated: “That wasn’t macho enough. My grandpa was born in Luxembourg and I’m very proud of my Luxembourg heritage. Plus, when I worked for my father I used to make up little specialty planters and I called them ‘Luxembourg gardens’ because of my heritage. When we purchased the business in Franklin I thought of this. I’m a Luxembourger and it’s my garden – so why not call it Luxembourg Gardens?” Thus, the name came to be.
Regarding their decision to spearhead the family donation to the Luxembourg American Cultural Center building project, Ron remarked, “There is no better way for our family and the Leider family to honor and pay tribute to our ancestors and our horticultural traditions. The center will carry on our heritage and story for future generations.”
“The new Pesche-Lieder Garden at the Luxembourg American Cultural Center.”
Photos Courtesy of Kevin Wester of the Luxembourg American Cultural Society and the Luxembourg American Gazette and Ron and
The Cultural Center celebrates one of America’s smallest and most unique ethnic groups – the Luxembourgers. About 70,000 Luxembourgers immigrated to the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries, most of them settling in the heart of the Midwest.
The Cultural Center project was a collaborative venture between the Luxembourg American Cultural Society and Luxembourg’s Ministry of Culture, and celebrates Luxembourg heritage and culture in America.
Source: WGIF Communications Specialist Jill Fennimore