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Please see the Minneapolis Park & Recreation web site for complete information on the Garden including current operating hours, parking pass information, bus routes, programs offered at the Garden, plant and bird checklists. A locater map is also available on the Parks website.
The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary is a 15-acre native plant reserve. It is the oldest public wildflower garden in the United States. Per its original charter, it is maintained in a wild rustic state, such as might have been encountered in early settlement times. The Wildflower Garden is owned, operated, staffed and maintained by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden work in conjunction with the Park Board but are an independent private nonprofit organization that provides volunteer and funding support.
The Wildflower Garden consists of three main ecosystems; a wetland complex referred to as the "Woodland Garden," upland hardwood forest and oak savanna with some open prairie, together referred to as the "Upland Garden". With over 600 plant species and more than 130 species of resident and migratory birds found in the Wildflower Garden, this delightful public native plant reserve is a true haven for the flora and fauna of our region, as well as for the many people who visit it. It is maintained in a natural rustic state, not with defined beds and plantings, similar to the way it was in 1900.
In addition to native plants and birds, many other creatures call the Wildflower Garden home: Raccoons, chipmunks, rabbits, red foxes, woodchucks, red and gray squirrels, mice, shrews, voles, moles, bats, frogs, toads, turtles and snakes. Deer, muskrats, opossums, mink and skunk have all been spotted nearby and may be visitors in the Wildflower Garden as well, although perhaps, unwelcome.
The Wildflower Garden was founded in 1907 by allocating land that was already part of the existing Glenwood Park (est. 1889) on the west side of Minneapolis. This designated area was first called the "Wild Botanic Garden" but was soon changed to a more descriptive "Native Plant Reserve" and was tended by botany teachers from the Minnespolis Public School System, especially by a visionary teacher named Eloise Butler. Ms. Butler became the official curator of the Wildflower Garden in 1911 after she retired from teaching and dedicated herself to the care, management and expansion of the Wildflower Garden until her death in 1933. It had been renamed for her in 1929. Four gardener/curators have followed in her footsteps up to the present. It was she who inspired her former student Clinton Odell, one of the early benefactors of the Wildflower Garden, to found the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. The Garden Curator is Susan Wilkins.
Below: The main entrance to the Garden welcomes you three seasons of the year with the words of Wordsworth: "Let Nature Be Your Teacher." The construction of the gate and the wrought iron fencing were funded by the Friends.