Lloyd Bachman was not a consummate violinist, but he was a virtuoso at growing lilies, poinsettias and other plants. His Christmas poinsettia trees decorated the White House of two presidents.
Bachman liked to play his violin at Christmas parties at the Lyndale Avenue homestead after all the flower orders were filled. The extended family sang carols as he fiddled, said Paul Bachman, a nephew and current president. "He never professed to be a maestro," he said. "We enjoyed it."
Bachman, 90, died last week from complications of congestive heart failure at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. He and three brothers were the third generation of Bachmans to run the now 125-year-old family business.
Bachman was vice president in charge of growing operations at the family's 513-acre growing range in Lakeville. He knew how to time greenhouse lilies so they bloomed for the brief Easter period and get the fussy poinsettias ready for church sanctuaries at Christmas, said his nephew.
"He was an expert at that," Paul Bachman said. "He kept Bachman's at the forefront of growing the best varieties and creating beautiful plants." He said his uncle's poinsettias were arranged in self watering, evergreen-shaped tree structures for the White House under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Bachman, part of the Minneapolis Men's Garden Club for more than 50 years, was among the members who pushed and raised funds for the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, said longtime garden club member Jerry Olson. After club members met with the state Horticultural Society, the arboretum opened with 160 acres in 1958.
Bachman, an arboretum advisory board member, was a forward-looking, generous, longtime supporter, said arboretum director emeritus Peter Olin.
"He was a gem," Olson said. "I worked with him on the national conventions for the men's garden club and the American Rose Society. He was down to earth, willing to get his hands dirty."
Bachman, an active Lutheran who loved taking his family boating, had a story or joke for every occasion, said his daughter, Lynn Bachman, of Eden Prairie.
But sometimes he cracked up laughing before he could utter the punch line.
He preached against surface, "camouflage" gardening, she said. "You had to dig deep enough to turn over the soil and condition it with nutrients." He also spent 20 years breeding a new hosta variety that he named after his first wife, Marion Bachman, and registered with the American Hosta Association. He gave the hosta to Marion (who died in 1999) on their 50th anniversary, Bachman said.
Bachman lost his only son two years ago at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Todd Bachman, then the company's chief executive, was walking by a historic site when he was stabbed to death by a deranged man who then killed himself.
In addition to his daughter, Bachman is survived by his second wife, Margaret, of Buffalo; daughter-in-law Barbara Bachman of Farmington; step-children Jim Lindquist, of St. Charles, Ill.; Merrilyn Tauscher, of Minnetonka, and Joanne Borgwardt of Madison, Wis.; four granddaughters and eight great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, 5025 Knox Av. S, in Minneapolis.