Tamaracks in Marsh

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1924/1925

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.

On January 24, 1925 she says she has been transformed into a housekeeper as her brother is still sick, her sister is feeble and she is caring for a household of eight, including a dog and three cats, but they had a jolly Christmas.(1)

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 1925

Eloise with Monarch
Eloise Butler with the large White Oak "Monarch." 1924 newspaper photo.

Eloise Butler’s first Garden Log note of the season was on April 2nd when she wrote:

Weather very warm, but no rain for some time. Trillium nivale [Snow Trillium] in bloom.
On the same day she planted seven species shipped from Malden (source not stated), all of which were previously planted in the Garden.

The weather was not in her favor. She wrote:
In April, very hot weather that unduly stimulated vegetation. Then late frosts -- ice forming May 26 -- that nipped aspiring flower buds. Some things were frozen four times. Therefore, no wild grapes, no Mayapples, nor several flowers. During May, heavy rains and cold weather, so that we said, ‘We’ll not complain when the sun roasts us.’ (2)

Eight new species were introduced this spring - details below. Eloise discovered one new plant in the swamp on May 18. - Betula sandbergii Britton (B. papyrifera x pumila) Sandberg Birch, considered native.

Summer 1925

Summer started off with this note:
Tornado uprooted many large trees and tore off many tops and branches. Paths shut off and plants laid low with debris of the wreckage.

She added more detail about this storm when she wrote in 1926 Trees in the wild Garden: (2)
The leading tree in the swamp was the tamarack. They were piled up like jackstraws by the tornado, and but few left standing. But most of the white birches, which were nearly equally abundant, were spared by reason of their deeper root system, as was also another prime ornament of the garden - a much be-photographed eight-boled white birch that dominates the eastern hillside.

Below: The eight-boled birch is in the background of this photo from 1926.

white birches
Above: "Monarch" as seen in this 1926 photo

In 1912 the giant White Oak she called Monarch, had been treated for decay. Here she explains what was done and then what happened this year.

“Monarch,” as we call him, was slowly dying atop. So, in obedience to the scriptural injunction, his dead limbs were cut off and cast away, and decayed portions of his “heart” - not essential as with humans for circulation -- were taken out and replaced with concrete. Thus, lopped and reinforced, he bade fair for many more years to hold sway. Alack and alas! In the tornado of June, large chunks of concrete were belched out and all the limbs torn off. How long will he yet stand without his crown?

He lasted until 1940 when Martha Crone had him removed as a danger of falling on visitors.

In the summer months she obtained another eight new species for the Garden. Details below. Summer weather was hot. Eloise wrote:
Through August and not yet fairly broken the most protracted drought ever recorded in Minnesota. The hillsides in the Reserve have suffered severely but the asters are holding their own fairly well. The usual crop of mushroom is a complete failure. (3)

Further adventures:

Have had some pleasant outing to break general dismalness. Went out on the prairies early in July when the wood lily mingled with the tall cream-colored spikes of zygadene at its height, and on the low lands, large masses of showy moccasin flowers disported themselves. In August, spent two days at Lake Kabecona [should be Kabekona], about twenty miles east of Itasca Park. There I saw for the first time in their native haunts the spurred gentian [Halenia deflexa] and the northern grass of parnassus [Parnassia palustris]. On a creek floated the pretty white water crowfoot in full blossom, and all the land was blue with harebells.(3)

Autumn 1925

In the autumn Eloise obtained 2 new species for the Garden, detailed below.

Eloise, and later Martha Crone, always planted many asters in the autumn, some in extremely large quantities. On October 10-11, Eloise planted 161 Sky Blue Aster, Aster azureus [Symphyotrichum oolentangiense] from Glenwood Park. Her last log entry was on October 20-21 said “planted from Minnehaha 301 Aster Cordifolius along path, east side of south enclosure and on plateau.” [Symphyotrichum cordifolium] Heart-leaved Aster] The 'south enclosure' is one of two Garden areas Eloise had fenced in during 1924. The large quantities of some of these asters both this year and in 1924 might indicate that were from a Park Board nursery. There was such a nursery at Glenwood Park at this time.

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.

On the way to Malden she had a 4 day stop in Indianapolis where she also had family relatives, arriving in Malden in her cousin’s automobile and wrote that it “didn’t skid over a precipice as I thought it might.” While in Malden the weather was so nice that she has time to “snoop” for plant material for the Garden and she mailed some acorns of Black Oak and Swamp White Oak to Martha Crone with instructions to heel them in for her, along with some of Savory-leaved Aster, Aster linariifolius [now Ionactis linariifolius] which she thought Martha may like. She wrote again about her sister Cora being very feeble - died in 1928. Then she gave a recipe for Quince and Cranberry Jam.(4)

Weather: The snow from the winter of 1924/25 had all melted by the end of February and early spring was dry, good rains arrived in May and a 3+ inch rain in mid-July, then drought. Going into the winter of 1925/26 there was little snow until January. Total precipitation was 7 inches below average. The tornado in June was the unusual event.

New 1925 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. 1925 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 1925

Summer 1925

River Birch
River Birch, Betula nigra, New spring planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau

Autumn 1925

Spurred Gentian
Spurred Gentian, Halenia deflexa New summer planting. Photo ©Robert Bierman, Wisconsin Flora
American Lotus
American Lotus, Nelumbo lutea, New summer planting. Photo ©Merle R. Black, Wisconsin Flora.
Woolly Beach Heather
Woolly Beach Heather, Hudsonia tomentosa. New summer planting. Photo ©Paul Drobot, Wisconsin Flora.
Indian Tobacco
Indian Tobacco, Lobelia inflata. New autumn planting. Photo ©Aaron Carlson, Wisconsin Flora.

Photo top of page: Tamaracks in the wetland. These are replacements for the trees destroyed in 1925. 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 from Eloise Butler to Martha Crone, January 24 1925. (pdf)
(2) Trees in the Wild Garden - essay in The Early History of the Wildlife Reserve unpublished.
(3) The Wild Garden in 1925 - submission to Gray Memorial Botanical Chapter, (Division D ) of the Agassiz Association for inclusion in the members circular.
(4) Letter from Eloise Butler to Martha Crone, November 3, 1925 (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 wildflowergarden.org" - 031222