Marsh Path

1946
History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1945/1946

Martha Crone
Martha Crone in the Garden in a 1951 photo.

1946 completes the 40th year of the Garden and Martha Crones 14th year as Curator.

Many new plants set out in 1946 are non-native, apparently an attempt to see what would grow in the new prairie area. Many did not last until the 1951 census. No source was given for any new plants. With the development of the Upland Garden, it is incredible the amount of planting Martha Crone did in 1946 and little wonder that her log is virtually devoid of mentioning bird activity, which she usually never neglected. Even the warbler migration is not noted. Birds are only mentioned twice - August 1st “Birds still singing” and a note on Sept. 24 that “a few Hummingbirds still here.” Martha religiously noted the arrival of the first Hummingbird and the departure of the last.

Spring 1946

Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily
Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily, photo by Martha Crone on April 25, 1955; photo courtesy Martha Crone Collection, MHS.

The first entry in the log was March 28 when she planted 75 Snow Trilliums removed from a site in Mankato. [Mankato was a frequent source of plants as it was where Martha’s husband, Bill, was from and they visited frequently.

In the first 15 days of April she planted 130 Pasque Flowers. April 18 saw the introduction of 175 Minnesota Dwarf Trout lily, Erythronium propullans, but she did not list the source. This is the first mention of them being planted since Eloise Butler introduced them in 1909. Martha’s source must have been Goodhue, Rice or Steel counties where they are native.

May 10 had a heavy frost, followed by a snowstorm on the 11th with temperatures of 26 degrees. Many flowers were frozen.(1)

Two new plants were introduced in the Spring without the source being given. (1)
Aconitum napellus L., Monkshood, Introduced
Adoxa moschatellina L., Muskroot, Native

Martha recommended Monkshood as a plant rabbits would avoid. On May 29 the first new identification stakes were put in the Upland Garden. These were provided by Clinton Odell.

Summer 1946

Spotted Knapweed
Spotted Knapweed, planted in 1946 by Martha Crone. Considered an invasive plant today. Photo ©Merle R. Black, Wisconsin Flora.

By the time June came, Martha already had over 3,000 plants in the ground. During the Summer months she added another 3,700. Of those Summer plants, the following are new to the Garden and we note which ones survived until the 1951 census. "Native" refers to a plant found in the wild in Minnesota, at settlement time. "Introduced" means the plant is found here but originally imported from somewhere else. "Not native" means the plant has not been found in the wild and not introduced. Updated scientific names are given in [ ].

The last possible new plant was listed as “50 Wild Strawberry” without specifying the species. Both species of Wild Strawberry were listed on the 1951 census, but to this time only the Virginia Wild Strawberry, Fragaria virginiana, had been recorded. So it is possible that this is the point at which Fragaria vesca, the Woodland Strawberry, enters the Garden.

During the Summer a new trail was cut through the wetland, which would be the current Lady’s-slipper Lane of today. Martha noted in her report: “A new trail has been constructed through the swamp winding gracefully, along which many plantings of swamp loving plants are being made, such as the Cardinal Flower, Blue Lobelia and many others.” (2)

Autumn 1946

Yellow Trillium
Yellow Trillium, first introduced by Martha Crone in 1946

By the time the Garden closed the total count of plants set out in 1946 was 8,343. The following plants set out in the Autumn are new to the Garden and we note which ones survived until the 1951 census:

In addition Martha planted seeds of 33 species. Most seeds were planted in flats near the office where they would over-winter as necessary for germination. Most of October was occupied with the seeds. Her last log entry was on Oct. 25 when she planted the 25 Bitterooot listed above.

Significant plantings of species already in the Garden:

Hepatica Hill
Hepatica Hill area of the Garden which Martha Crone began extensively planting in 1946. Photo by Martha on April 16, 1955, courtesy Martha Crone Collection, MHS.

Martha specifically mentions in her annual report (2) the following:

“The lower Garden has had many plantings added. In careful imitation of natures way, 550 Sharp-lobed Hepaticas and 225 Large-flower Trilliums were set out on a hillside sloping to the east. This is to be an outstanding display when in bloom. Here also saplings were thinned out to allow some sunshine to filter through the larger trees.”

This would be what came to be known as Hepatica Hill. It was the same area or near the same area that Eloise Butler had made similar plantings.

In her annual report to the Park Board Martha again thanks Clinton Odell as follows:

“The new upland garden altho established only a few years ago, has proven a distinct success. No small thanks and appreciation is due to Mr. C.M. Odell, for his untiring efforts in furthering the Garden.

Plants in the new Garden have been marked with new labels, total of 250 were distributed, all of which were contributed by Mr. Odell. They are attractive and easily read, using only the common names of plants. Technical terms having been avoided, since they too often cause confusion for many visitors, also are too lengthly.”


(1) Garden Log - 1946

(2) Annual Reports of the Garden Curator to the Board of Park Commissioners - dated Feb. 24, 1947 to Charles E. Doell.

(3) Annual Reports of the Garden Curator to the Board of Park Commissioners - dated Jan 30, 1946 First report to new Superintendent Charles E. Doell.

Photo top of page: One of the paths in the marsh, with an open pool visible of the left. Photo by Martha Crone on May 15, 1952, courtesy Martha Crone Collection, MHS.

Previous Year ----------- Subsequent Year

Links to related pages:
- Abbreviated Life of Eloise Butler
- Martha Crone - 2nd Garden Curator
- Ken Avery - 3rd Curator and Gardener
- Cary George - 4th Gardener
- Our Native Plant Reserve - Short document on the origins of the Garden.
- Eloise Butler's writings, a selection of essays written by Eloise Butler on the early Garden years.
- Geography of the Garden- an illustrated tour

References:

Martha Crone's Annual Report to the Board of Park Commissioners dated Feb. 24, 1947.

Martha Crone's Garden Log and her 1951 Census of plants in the Garden.

Various papers and correspondence of Eloise Butler and Martha Crone in the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Historical Climatology of Minneapolis-St. Paul Area by Charles Fisk.

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©2017 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. All photos are the property of The Friends unless otherwise credited. Photos credited to others are used with permission for educational purposes, for which The Friends thank them and the organization providing the photos. Text and research by Gary Bebeau. "http://www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org" - 012517