Cardinal Flowers

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1918/1919

This winter Eloise Butler again traveled to the East Coast to visit her relatives, as had been her custom since she retired from teaching in 1911. Her residence was at 20 Murray Hill Rd, Malden, Mass. While there she sourced some plants from Gillett’s Nursery in Southwick MA, and from Horsford’s Nursery, Charlotte, Vermont. The plants were then sent to her and arrived in April.

In late March she returned to her rented quarters at the residence of John and Susan Babcock at 227 Xerxes Ave. from where she could walk to the Garden.

Spring 1919

Old Butler Farm barn
The foundation of the original barn on the first Oliver Butler farm where Eloise was born. Photo from 1989 courtesy Martha Hellander.

Eloise Butler’s first Garden Log note of the season was on 30 March when she wrote:

Trillium nivale, white maple, hazel, speckled alder and willow in bloom.

The preceding winter had been well below average for snowfall and late March temperatures were warm.

She has many notes about birds sighted in the Garden in the first part of April but her first planting occurs on April 17th with planting Pasque Flower, the planting of which was a frequent early spring occurrence.

On May 16th she noted:

Saw woodchuck climbing like a bear red maple by the spring, and suspend himself in the crotch of a limb.

Plantings: This spring she brought in 3 new species, all obtained from Gillett’s and Horsford’s: Bride’s Feathers, Robert Geranium, Threadleaf Sundew. Details listed below the autumn section.

She also recorded planting a number of other species previously in the Garden, including 16 species which are still in the Garden.

At some time during the year Eloise wrote an updated version of her 1915 essay on Ferns in the Garden. This update had a more extensive list of ferns, where she obtained them, and how they were faring in the Garden. The text indicates that, like the 1915 article, it was sent to The Gray Memorial Botanical Chapter, (Division D ) of the Agassiz Association for inclusion the members circular.(1) Read it here.

Summer 1919

Northern Bog Goldenrod
Northern Bog Goldenrod, noted in bloom this year by Eloise Butler. Photo ©Scott Milburn, Wisconsin Flora.

The Showy Lady’s-slippers were in bloom by June 15th and on the 22nd she noted they were “never more magnificent.”

Eloise wrote several articles for the Minneapolis Tribune and the Minneapolis Journal, at their request, about the plants and flowers at the Lake Harriet Rose Gardens and the old Armory Gardens at Kenwood Parkway and Lyndale Ave.

These articles were to educate the public about the shrubs and flowers found in these gardens. The articles were written in a straight forward reporter-like fashion with an occasional light-hearted note such as this one:

Both the Armory and the Wild Garden now exhibit the Cardinal Flower. It is one of several instances when I say to a plant in the Armory garden, “you are out of your province. Native flowers are not expected here among the exotics.

Just for good measure, she ended each article by adding comments about what was happening in the Wild Garden in Glenwood Park. In another article published in the local newspaper this was said about mosquitoes in the Garden:

All Minneapolis botany teachers, including those at the University of Minnesota, send their students to study in this beautiful outdoor museum of flowers. Many students of botany and lovers of flowers in St. Paul, too are frequent visitors. The curator’s office is equipped with anti-mosquito fluid so that those who can stay away from the woods for fear of the over-enthusiastic mosquito, need have not fear. If the visitor’s epidermis is unusually thin, he can get a “face and hand wash” free and after the fluid has been applied the mosquito will break all aerial records getting away from him.

On August 31st she noted bloom on Solidago neglecta [now Solidago uliginosa var. uliginosa], Bog Goldenrod "from Cleveland Ohio.” This is a native species but there is no previous mention of the plant in her log or when she obtained it from Cleveland Ohio.

In the summer months she obtained 3 new species for the Garden: Cluster Mallow, Lowbush Blueberry and Velvetleaf Huckleberry. Details on all the 1919 new plantings are listed below the autumn section. She also recorded planting a number of other species previously in the Garden, including 9 species which are still in the Garden, most from local sources.

Autumn 1919

Henbit Deadnettle
Henbit Deadnettle, Lamium amplexicaule, planted in 1919 by Eloise Butler, sold in Garden centers then, now extremely invasive. Photo G D Bebeau.

Beginning in 1918 Eloise maintained a rotating display of native plants at the Minneapolis Public Library. She updated the exhibit every few days and brought back plants to replant in the Garden, frequently mentioning the replanting in her Garden Log.

On October 10 she noted in the log: “No frosts so far, Thermometer registers nearly 32 degrees this morning. An exceptionally dry fall.”

In the fall months she obtained 13 new species for the Garden. One of which we believe she mis-identified as it has never been known from the area she collected it. Another of those she brought in, from a Garden Center, is an invasive plant that is currently the scourge of the crop fields in the central United States - Henbit Deadnettle. In her day it may have nice to experiment with growing it but today a lot of herbicide is applied every year to control this plant.

Eloise also recorded planting a number of other species previously in the Garden, including 40 species which are still in the Garden, most from local sources. One of her sources for a very large number of species planted on August 23 to 25 was from the area of Grand Marias and Beaver Camp, in northern Minnesota. Other favored sources were her regular sources of Minnehaha Park, Glenwood Park, Columbia Heights, the Franklin Bridge and Fort Snelling.

Her last log entry for the year was on October 21st when she planted a large number of asters. With the Garden closed and the office locked up she departed for the East Coast to visit her sister Cora Pease as she has done every winter since 1911.

1919 was right on average for precipitation but late fall would bring snow with the winter of 1919/20 producing around 65 inches of snow - 20 inches above average.

New 1919 Plants

Eloise brought into the Garden a number of plants that are not listed today on the Garden census. Many of these were native to Minnesota and a few were not. Here is a listing of most of those plants introduced this year to the Garden for the first time - the common and botanical names listed first are names she used followed by other common names for the same plant and the newer botanical classifications, if any; then follows her source for the material. 1919 is the first year the following list of plants occur in her log. "Native" indicates the plant is considered native to Minnesota (here at European Settlement time) or if introduced, long established. "Non-native" indicates it is not known to exist in Minnesota in the wild. "Extant" indicates the plant is present in the Garden today. 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 University of Minnesota's Checklist of the Vascular Flora of Minnesota.

Robert's Geranium
Robert's Geranium,Geranium robertianum, planted in spring 1919. Photo ©Merle R. Black, Wisconsin Flora.

Spring 1919

Summer 1919

Autumn 1919

Brides feathers
Brides Feathers, Aruncus dioicus, planted in spring 1919. Photo ©G D Bebeau.
Prickly Rose
Prickly Rose, Rosa acicularis, planted in autumn 1919. Photo ©G D Bebeau.
American Licorice
American Licorice, Glycyrrhiza lepidota planted autumn 1919, Photo ©Derek Anderson, Wisconsin Flora.
Crooked Stem Aster
Crooked Stem Aster, Symphyotrichum prenanthoides, planted autumn 1919, Photo © Emmet J. Judziewicz, Wisconsin Flora.
Moth Mullein
Moth Mullein, Verbascum blattaria, planted in autumn 1919. Photo ©Robert Bierman, Wisconsin Flora.
Northern Bog Violet
Northern Bog Violet, Viola nephrophylla, planted in autumn 1919. Photo ©Merle R. Black, Wisconsin Flora.

Note 1: The Agassiz Association was founded in the late 1800‘s to be an association of local chapters that would combine the like interests of individuals and organizations in the study of Nature. However, by this time it was largely defunct and only the Gray Memorial Chapter, with several divisions, was still active. Various contributions from members were grouped and circulated by post from one member to another.

Photo top of page: Cardinal Flower and Boneset in the Marsh, photo from a Kodachrome by Martha Crone on August 4, 1948. Kodachromes given to Friends of the Wild Flower Garden by Martha Crone Estate.

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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.

Friends Home Page

©2017 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. Photos 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. "https://www.friendsofthe" - 051222