Prairie Dock in upland

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1922/1923

This winter Eloise Butler 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.

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. All plants this year are from local and mid-west sources - none from east coast nurseries.

Spring 1923

Malden back garden
The Backyard garden at 20 Murray Hill Road, Malden, where Eloise spent winters. As it looked in 1989. Photo courtesy Martha Hellander.

Eloise Butler’s first Garden Log note of the season was on April 1st when she wrote:

Very cold all through March, consequently, ground still frozen and ponds still covered with ice. Not even hazel or alder tasseled out.

But on April 2nd she sowed seeds of Pennyroyal on the Plateau. April 7 was a down day - “Heaviest snow storm of the season - - over 10 inches of snow on the level.” The official tally for Minneapolis was 9.6 inches making it the largest single event snowfall in April in local weather history (as of 2021). This was followed on the 14th with three more inches of snow. But the weather warmed as it usually does so by April 20th the Marsh Marigold, Squirrel Corn, Dutchman’s Breeches were in bud.

Her first spring planting was on April 26 when she planted False Rue Anemone, White Trout Lily, Wild Ginger and Dutchman’s Breeches from Minnehaha Park. No new species were added in the spring.

She noted on May 7th an “exhibition of plants at the Journal Office.” This would have been one of the local newspapers but it is unclear if she maintained the exhibition as she did at the library between 1917 and 1921 or if this was someone else’s exhibition, presumably hers.

Two weeks earlier it was National Garden week and the Minnesota Chapter of the Society for the Preservation of Wild Flowers had their annual meeting. Eloise Butler was membership committee and publicity chair. On Friday evening the 27th there was an open to the public illustrated lecture at the Maryland Hotel on "Wild Flowers of Minnesota" with wild flowers in blossom being shown in vases. The report in the April 27th Minneapolis Tribune does not say but one can presume that Eloise provided the flowers and probably gave the lecture.

On the 9th of May she found a nest of pheasant with 14 eggs in south meadow. Not unusual in those days to have pheasants in the city. Last year she had a hive of Italian bees brought into the Garden but they were stolen. This year she got another hive on May 13 from a Mrs. McGuire, of Dina Springs - unclear where that is.

Summer 1923

On June 18 Eloise wrote: “Bluebird fledglings have just flown from the bird box on low stump in Plateau.”

In the summer months she obtained 3 new species for the Garden: Plains Snake Cotton, Small Enchanter’s Nightshade, Stiff Cowbane. Details below.

Autumn 1923

In the fall months she obtained 11 new species for the Garden, all detailed below. Her last log entry was on October 27. She planted 92 Sky Blue Asters, Aster Azureus [now Symphyotrichum oolentangiense ], that she got from Glenwood Park.

During the year she also recorded planting a number of other species previously in the Garden, most from local sources.

When the Garden closed and the office was locked up she departed for the East Coast to visit her sister Cora Pease as she has done every winter since 1911.

While Eloise was in Malden she mailed back to Martha Crone acorns of the Black Oak and the Swamp White Oak for some "exhibit" Martha was to put on in the fall. She recommended Martha 'snoop' around to find some of the trees of Swamp White Oak, which is a bit strange as in 1921 she noted having the tree in the Garden. (1)

On December 12 a fire was started by skaters on Birch Pond and it got out of control with winds blowing embers into dry grass and leaves up into the area around the Garden burning 2,000 evergreens that the Park Board had recently set out. It made the newspaper - the headline read "City's Oldest Tree Periled by Flames in Glenwood Park." Park Keeper Carl Erickson had to call the fire department to help him put out the flames. The tree was Eloise Butler's favorite White Oak Monarch. (2)

Weather: March was very cold, with snow and ice continuing into mid-April. Although there were frequent Summer rains, the total precipitation for the year was below average. November and December were very mild with almost no snow.

New 1923 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. 1923 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. "Introduced" means not native to North America. "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.

Spring 1923

No new species were added in the Spring of 1923.

Summer 1923

Marsh Arrowgrass
Marsh Arrowgrass, Triglochin palustris, New autumn planting. Photo ©Hugh Iltis, Wisconsin Flora.

Autumn 1923

Rattlesnake Master
Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium. New autumn planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau.
Scaly Blazing Star
Scaly Blazing Star, Liatris squarrosa New autumn planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau.
Thin leaf coneflower
Thin Leaf Coneflower, Rudbeckia triloba. New autumn planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau
Prairie Dock
Prairie Dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum . New autumn planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau

Photo top of page: Prairie Dock, introduced this year by Eloise Butler. Photo G D Bebeau

To History of: Previous Year ----------- Subsequent Year

Year chart - all years

Garden History Archive

Printable PDF file of this page.

(1) Letter to Martha Crone, 16 Nov. 1923. (pdf)

(2) Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12 December 1923. (pdf)

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" - 031222