garden at Malden

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1926/1927

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 January she wrote to Bill and Martha Crone about her Christmas activities and a letter from Theodore Wirth about the wonderful winter in Minneapolis. Eloise related that the winter in Mass. was the coldest since 1885 and she longed to back in Minneapolis where she could be outside all day. (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 1927

Eloise Butler
Eloise Butler ca. 1930, photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.

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

“Robins, bluebird, song sparrows here.” Many plants were in bloom, she noted Trillium nivale [Snow Trillium], Sharp-lobed Hepatica, willows, skunk cabbage.

Her first plantings of the year were plants sent from Malden Mass. - 22 asters and a Roundleaf Greenbriar, put in on April 3.

On the night of 21-22 April there was snow and frost.

There were thirteen new species introduced this spring - details below. Besides the sources listed there, she got plants from 2628 5th Ave. So., Minneapolis; Happy Valley near Mendota; Gillett’s Nursery in Southwick, MA; Grand Forks, ND; and Northern Michigan.

Summer 1927

The Showy Lady’s-slipper was just beginning to bloom on June 19, rather late that year.

In the summer months Eloise obtained another nine new species for the Garden. Details below.

Other plants came from Mr. Babcock’s Garden; Northome MN; Glenwood Park; Anoka MN; Leffel Lake; Royal NE; Hastings MN; Northern MN; Bryan NE; near the Rum River; Northeast Minneapolis; Fort Snelling; and Mrs. Rook’s Garden.

Autumn 1927

trailing Arbutus
Above: Trailing Arbutus. Epigaea repens, ©Aaron Carlson, Wisconsin Flora.

In the autumn Eloise obtained 5 new species for the Garden, detailed below.

Another example of the large planting of asters that she frequently did was on 11 October and 14 October when 206 Aster azureus, Sky Blue Aster, were put in, all from Glenwood Park.

Her last log entry on October 22 read “planted from Exeter, N.H., 3 clumps of Epigaea repens [Trailing arbutus] under pine tree in Pinetum. One clump contained a root of Gaultheria procumbens [Spicy Wintergreen]. Transplanted from purple trillium plantation 1 staminate wild yam to trellis east side of office.”

The experience in the Garden with Trailing Arbutus bears some discussion as it is an example of the dogged determination of the Garden Curators to establish a plant. The plant is native to the NE section of Minnesota which is its most westerly range in the United States. Eloise first brought the plant in during 1916 from Solon Springs Wisconsin, up near Lake Superior. She planted it again in 1917, ’19, ’20, ’22, 25, this year, ’30 and ’31. In her 1926 history Eloise noted that “Only a small percentage (of plants) refuse to flourish. Trailing arbutus, Viola lanceolata and V. rotundifolia are found to be the least persuasive.”

Martha Crone would try to establish it in ten different years between 1933 and 1957. In 1945 should would write in her annual report to the Board of Park Commissioners “An extensive program is being undertaken to re-establish some of the more elusive plants, among them the Fringed Gentian, Trailing Arbutus and various orchids.” In her 1950 annual report she was able to say “After many years of effort success has been gained with such elusive plants as the lovely Fringed Gentian, Trailing Arbutus and various orchids.” She wrote in The Fringed Gentian™ in July 1959 (vol. 7 no. 3) that “Trailing arbutus, Blueberry and Cranberry are difficult to transplant and apparently are somewhat parasitic upon the roots of other plants. Trailing Arbutus is always found growing in company of Blueberry.” The last of Martha’s plants were eliminated in the late ‘50s by mice, so in 1963 and 1964 her successor Ken Avery tried once again. He too gave up after several years.

During the autumn Eloise also recorded planting a number of other species previously in the Garden from sources such as: Anoka MN; Bryan NE; Glenwood Park; Williams Nursery, Exeter, NH; Royal NE; Mr. Babcock’s yard; Fort Snelling; Riverside Park; and Mrs. Hind’s Garden.

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

In October and November when she was back in Malden she sent boxes of plants to Martha Crone for her to heel in until spring when Eloise could transfer them to the Garden. The October box she collected in Ann Arbor Michigan on a side trip from a stop she made in Toledo Ohio, while on her way to Malden. The November box was collected in Malden. She referred to the weather in Malden as the hottest November 2nd in 51 years. (2)

Weather in 1927 was not too unusual - a good year. The late winter snow was gone before the end of February, except for that mid-April snowfall. Rain was good during the summer followed by heavy snow in December raising total precipitation for the year above normal - the first time in several years.

New 1927 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. 1927 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 1927

Summer 1927

Autumn 1927

European Bellflower
European Bellflower, Campanula rapunculoides. New summer planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau
Prairie Loosestrife
Prairie Loosestrife, Lysimachia quadriflora. New autumn planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau
Live Forever
Live Forever, Hylotelephium telephium. New autumn planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau

Photo top of page: The front garden at 20 Murray Hill Road, Malden MA, where Eloise spent winters. Seen here in 1989, photo courtesy Martha Hellander.

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

Year chart - all years

Garden History Archive

Printable PDF file of this page.

(1) Letter to Bill and Martha Crone dated 9 January 1927. (pdf)
(2) Postcard to Martha Crone October 29, 1927 (pdf)
Postcard to Martha Crone 3 November 1927 (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" - 031322