plat of Glenwood Park

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1907/1908

Above: A 1904 plat showing a portion of the Saratoga Springs Addition that was never built but became Glenwood Park. Birch pond is shown at the left. The natural bowl of the Wild Botanic Garden is where the ellipse is shown to the right of the pond. By 1907 Glenwood Park had been expanded north, south, west with the east boundary ending at what is now Xerxes Ave. North. Note how lots were platted on what is now the surrounding south hillside.

There had been very little snow in the fall of 1907. The first three months of 1908 saw some significant snowfalls but most of the snow melted by mid February and March snowfalls did not stay on the ground long. April was cold with significant moisture, mostly in the form of snow. Eloise noted that four or five inches fell on the 27th (the Minneapolis weather station reported 7 inches). That was the last snowfall of the season. May brought average temperatures and lots of rain; five rainfalls alone of over an inch each. June was wet also.

In the winter months of 1907-1908 Eloise Butler would be occupied with her teaching position at Minneapolis South High School. With the coming of spring, the "Natural Botanical Garden," now in its second official year, would occupy all of her non-school hours except for a trip to the East Coast.

Spring 1908

Preliminary notes about the plants. Native Status: Some of the plants obtained by Eloise Butler in the early years of the Garden were not native to Minnesota or if native, may have been difficult to establish in the Garden. Most of these are no longer present. Martha Crone was somewhat more selective of native plant material, but also brought in many species not native to the State, and many of her imports have not survived either. The plants illustrated here, so one can see what they looked like, are mostly of the class no longer extant in the Garden. Species still extant at the time of Martha Crone's 1951 census are marked "(M.C.)". As for plants mentioned here that are still present in the Garden today, there may have been numerous re-plantings, and most have a web link to a detailed information/photo page, or, if not, are noted as being present in the Garden today - these are not illustrated in this article. Botanical classification: Over the years Botanists have reclassified many plants from the classifications in use at the time Eloise Butler wrote her Garden Log or when Martha Crone prepared her census. I have retained the nomenclature that Eloise Butler or Martha Crone used and then provided the more current classification as used by the major listings in use today, particularly Flora of North America, and the Checklist of the Vascular Flora of Minnesota from the University of Minnesota Herbarium.

Starflower (Trientalis borealis) Photo ©G D Bebeau

Eloise’s earliest record of planting was on the 19th of April when she set out these plants that are still represented in the Garden today:

Wild Blue Phlox,
Sharplobe hepatica and
Great St. Johnswort.

Later in the month she added these plants, still extant in the Garden:

Old Man’s Whiskers,
Dutchman’s Breeches, False Rue-Anemone,
Butterfly Weed,
Canadian White Violet.
Starflower; (M.C.); (Trientalis borealis -now- Trientalis borealis ssp. borealis); from Osceola, WI. [Photo]
Common Hop Tree; (M.C.); (Ptelea trifoliata); from Kelsey’s Nursery, NC. [This plant is listed native but the only collection record is from Hennepin County. (In the Checklist of the Vascular Flora of Minnesota, Anita F. Cholewa, states that this tree is “known only from Hennepin Co. last collected 1951, possibly planted.” could that be the Garden specimen planted by Eloise?).

Eloise espoused the belief that the Garden should only include plants native to the state or naturalized in Minnesota - a rule she would ignore when certain specimens became available that she either loved or believed would complement the other plants of the Garden. We shall see in her plantings for 1908 that exceptions to the rule would occur.

walking fern
Walking Fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum) Photo Martha Crone May 31, 1950.
Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow
Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos). Photo Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.

Early Plantings not present today: Here is a listing of most of those plants introduced to the Garden for the first time in the spring of 1908 (this being the first reference to them in her Garden Log), with source when it was noted in the log.

Native to Minnesota:

Not Native to Minnesota:

Finding unexpected plants in the new Garden was always a treat and she reported such findings in the Log such as Early Coral Root [Photo] (Corallorhiza innata -now- Corallorhiza trifida) and Narrowleaf Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) on April 26th. On May 10 she found one specimen of Shining Club Moss (Lycopodium lucidulum - now - Huperzia lucidula), in the wetland.

Threeleaf Goldthread
Threeleaf Goldthread (Coptis trifolia). Photo ©Kitty Kohout, Wisconsin Flora.
Early coralroot
Early Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida). Photo ©R.K. Kupfer, Wisconsin Flora.
Violet Wood sorrel
Violet Wood Sorrel (Oxalis violacea). Photo ©Christopher Noll, Wisconsin Flora.
Virginia Spiderwort
Virginia Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) Photo: Jennifer Anderson, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Summer 1908

Purple Flowering Raspberry
Purple flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus). Photo ©G D Bebeau

There are no entries in Eloise Butler’s Garden Log between June 3 and September 5. As was her custom, she had traveled back to Malden MA to visit her sister Cora Pease. As Eloise was still teaching at South High School in Minneapolis, summer was the only time she could make a visit. By 1910 however, the Garden duties were too much for her to be absent and the summer trips then ended.

While visiting with Cora, the two made plant gathering forays including visits to Appleton Maine where relatives lived and a trip to several sites in Nova Scotia for plants and a special trip to New Brunswick. The plant finds are listed in the autumn section below.

The trip to New Brunswick is very interesting as they visited a "wild garden" near St. John. Botanist Dr. George Upram Hay had established a two acre "wild garden" on his summer property at Ingleside near Westfield, where he maintained more than 500 species of flowering plants. The Hay garden was established in 1899, 8 years prior to the Wild Botanic Garden in Glenwood Park and thus the concept of a "wild garden" was not as unique as Eloise and her fellow teachers had thought. Dr. Hay's garden was also for the benefit of students and those who study plants. It was not a public garden as was the one in Glenwood Park, but the concept was the same. Eloise pronounced hers better. Complete details in this article.

On her return train trip to Minneapolis, via the northern route through Canada, there was a train wreck in the wilds of Ontario. As a confirmed plant gatherer, Eloise found the wait for repairs rewarding in that she located and brought home plants for the Garden. She explains in a later entry in “Annals of a Wild Garden” in an article titled “Occult Experiences of a Wild Gardener" how she acquired plants she had been searching for - Sweet Gale (Myrica gale) and Yellow Round-leaved Violet (Viola rotundifolia) and several other rarities. In her log for September 5th, she reports collecting near the town of Mackey, the following two plants which were undoubtedly also collected at the train wreck site as Mackey is “in the wilds of Ontario”:

While she was away, the summer weather in Minneapolis was fine with plenty of rain except that August was fairly dry.

Autumn 1908

Dwarf Ginseng
Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius) Photo ©Christopher Noll, Wisconsin Flora

In the fall Eloise went on a plant-o-rama, first, in early September with the plants she obtained on her summer visit back east and then with plants obtained locally. Here is a partial list:

Early Plantings -most not present today (see notes at top of page), Source is given when known:

Native to Minnesota:

Fringed Gentian
Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita) Photo Martha Crone.


Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia) Photo ©Aaron Carlson, Wisconsin Flora

Non-native plants

During the fall months Eloise would make special notes of certain plants - plants she had not previously catalogued as being present in the Garden. These included (with the date):

Mountain Wood Sorrel
Mountain Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana )Photo ©Cory Raimond, Wisconsin Flora.

In September the Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow (Hibiscus Moscheutos) planted in the spring was seen to bloom. In October she planted more
Showy Lady’s-slippers,
Yellow Lady’s-slipper, Pitcher plants,
Turk’s Cap lilies,
Blazing star (Liatris scariosa),
Blazing star - (L. spicata),
Blazing star -(L. cylindracea). [See note at end of text].
Blue giant Hyssop,
and more asters -
White Heath Aster (Many-flowered Aster) (Aster multiflorus - now- Symphyotrichum ericoides) [this was her first record of planting this species]
Silky Aster (Western Silver Aster) (Symphyotrichum sericeum).

Roundleaf Sundew
Roundleaf Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia). Photo ©G D Bebeau

On November 3rd she noted two clumps of Yellow Marsh Marigold in bloom in the bog, which is not unusual for these plants to have a fall re-bloom if the season is right like 1908 when October and November temperatures were above the average norm. Eloise’s last entry in her log was on November 28th when she noted three blue jays chasing a Barred Owl out of the Garden.

With the warm October and November temperatures there were no snowfalls until December when at mid-month came an eleven inch snowfall.

NOTE: Planting of Blazing Star: L. scariosa and L. spicata, both listed in her 1908 Garden Log, are not native to Minnesota but her notes in 1908 state she obtained them from Ft. Snelling and from Mahtomedi. Since some of these species are similar, perhaps she mis-identified them which may be the case with L. scariosa as this is a species of the eastern coast, and as for L. spicata, perhaps it may have existed, but like L. scariosa, none of the known varieties of these species has been collected in Minnesota.

fen grass of parnassas
Fen Grass of Parnassas
(Parnassia glauca) Photo ©G D Bebeau.
Harebell (Bluebell Bellflower) (Campanula rotundifolia) Photo ©G D Bebeau.
Lesser Purple Fringed Orchid
Lesser Purple Fringed Orchid (Platanthera psycodes), photo ©G D Bebeau.
White Penstemon
White Penstemon (Penstemon albidus) Photo Mark J. Miller @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.

Photo top of page: Partial 1904 plat of the part of Glenwood Park containing the Garden.

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Year chart - all years
Garden History Archive

Printable PDF file of this page.

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


Garden Log - Native Plant Reserve, Glenwood Park, Minneapolis, MN by Eloise Butler

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

Various papers and correspondence of Eloise Butler 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. Photos are as credited and 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. "www.friendsofthe" - 031122