For Bieses, everything’s coming up roses

By Amanda Lauer | For The Compass | October 28, 2009

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Irene and Leo Biese (Amanda Lauer | For The Compass)

Leo spent his working career at Thilmany’s in Kaukauna and Irene was a waitress at The Darboy Club. She retired in 1996 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and Leo retired in 1999.

When their children were in school at Holy Angels in Darboy, the Bieses were actively involved with the school and Holy Angels Parish. They did everything from working at bingo and helping with the annual church picnic to leading 4-H and distributing Communion.

Twenty five years ago Irene and Leo started actively building up the gardens on their three-quarter acre lot. “Our yard had a lot of evergreens,” said Leo. “I planted them because it filtered the air and I had asthma. After they aged I had taken them all down and I started planting flowers where the evergreens were and one bed led into the next.”

“My love of working outside and the flowers – that was a gift from God,” added Irene. “It definitely helped in the healing process when I had cancer. We always had flowers but when the kids were young and when we worked we had more things to do. But afterwards it was nice to be out there.”

It takes two people to keep up with the massive amount of work required to maintain six large flower beds. “I do the moving and planting of the flowers. Irene will pick out the color combinations,” said Leo.

“I grow a lot from seed,” explained Irene. “All the geraniums I keep every year. I grow plants in the basement under lights in the winter. We buy some of them.”

Your Catholic Neighbor

Name: Irene and Leo Biese

Parish: St. John Nepomucene, Little Chute

Age: Irene, 70; Leo, 72

Favorite saint: Francis of Assisi

Words to live by: “We love all God’s creations and we live every day to the fullest.”

The Bieses share their flowers with many people.

“Everybody knows us. We have a garden walk just about every day – someone stops almost every day to see the flowers, we walk them around and talk about them,” said Irene. Countless wedding, prom, homecoming and senior pictures have been staged in their gardens.

Photographers stop by to take pictures of flowers. Each spring Irene and Leo donate perennials to St. Edward Parish in Mackville for their annual flower sale. “But we’ll give them to anybody who wants them,” noted Leo.

In addition to the flowers, Leo also is busy year-round making bird houses. He has quite a few in his yard. He gives them away as gifts and donates some for various fund-raisers. He paints all the birdhouses freehand. In what little spare time he has, he is the volunteer maintenance person at Mt. Tabor Center in Menasha.

As much work as it is to maintain their beautiful gardens, it’s worth every minute for Irene and Leo. “That’s our pay for what we do – the comments people make,” said Leo. “Many times people will say they don’t believe in miracles or they’ll ask me if I ever saw a miracle. We’ve got thousands of them right in this yard. It’s the miracle of life, all the way through.”

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