Friends of the Wild Flower Garden

Activities of Early Spring

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary

Early Spring Walk

There are few lovelier sights than finding in sheltered nooks where the sun has rested, patches of hepaticas, snow trillium and bloodroot, the real harbingers of spring. Former Curator Martha Crone.

Early spring in the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden can be a wonderful experience. The Garden landscape is fully visible as the leaf canopy of trees and shrubs has not yet obscured far vistas. It is a time to see the actual geography of the Garden - the "Lay-of-the-land." Spring bird watching is great, the early spring flowers are appearing; it is the time of burning the prairie and it is also a time when our spring weather does not cooperate on all days.


Early spring birders gather in the Avery Birding Area and on the trails

Spring Birding2 Spring Birding

Early spring birders gather on the trails while another group is looking for early spring plant growth.

Spring birding 3 Spring Plant Walk
Trouble in the Bog
In a early spring that is very wet there are certain hazards. This path north of the Garden, running between two ponds that are situated between the Wirth Beach Parking area and the back gate can flood at times.
Sunny Spring Walk
However, on a sunny day in early spring, a nice dry path can't be beat.
Pussy Willow
On an early spring walk in the bog area of the Woodland Garden you may see the opening buds of the Pussy Willow (Salix discolor Muhl.)
Dogwood
the brilliant red of the Dogwood stems contrasting against the brown background.
Spring Prairie Burn
Early spring is when the prairie in the Upland Garden can be burnt off, eliminating left over last year's growth, killing off any woody unwanted growth and preparing the ground for new growth. Local fire departments are notified in advance as the Garden is in the city. The first burn of the prairie area was done in 1965 by Curator Ken Avery.
Spring Cleanup Burn
Spring is also the last time before next winter that small limbs and trunks of eliminated growth can be burnt off. Removed brush and any remaining Buckthorn is usually the majority of this material. Garden Curator Susan Wilkins is shown here handling the task.

Below: Parts of the prairie area after the April 2007 burn. Photos above by Melissa Hansen

April 2007 Burn April 2007 Burn
Front Gate in Snow
Sometimes spring does not arrive by April 1st. This large and late snowfall on March 31, 2008 prevented the Garden from opening until mid-April. 2013 would be even later. (photo by Judy Remington)
Spring Walk to the Shelter
Fortunately, most of the time the Garden can open on April 1 as scheduled, the sun comes out and even an uphill climb to the Martha Crone Shelter can be enjoyed.

Nest in Snow late March
More hazards of early Spring. The March 31, 2008 snowfall was not welcome by the birds either (Photo by Judy Remington)
Elderberry in snow late April
As if the March 31, 2008 snow was not enough, here is what occurred on April 26, 2008. This Elderberry was already in leaf. (Photo by Phoebe Waugh.)

A Warm Fire
What could be finer that a warm fire in the Martha Crone Shelter after a good walk in the cool of April? Friends member and volunteer George Bridgman thinks so.
GPS Mapping
One of the more unusual activities that happened in early spring of 2005 was a "gps" mapping of the trees in the Garden. This was a major effort of the Park & Recreation board to create a complete tree survey of the Garden.


April weather is so variable that many times the Garden has not opened on April 1 as scheduled or has to close after it opened. Here is a history of adverse April weather for the the Garden's first 50 years: The Joys and Disconcerts of April at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden