Eloise and Cora

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1927/1928

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 February 29, leap day, Eloise's sister Cora Pease died after her long illness. It is not known if Eloise informed Martha and Bill Crone of this at the time or after she returned to Minneapolis in late March to her rented quarters at the residence of John and Susan Babcock at 227 Xerxes Ave. from where she could walk to the Garden. We have no saved correspondence between Eloise and the Crones from January 1927 until November of this year.

It is known that the she wrote an essay about Cora's life that she sent to the Gray Memorial Botanical Chapter for circulation to the members. A copy is in the Minneapolis Collection at the Central Library.

Spring 1928

Queen Anne's Lace
Queen Anne's Lace, planted by Eloise this Spring; plants sent from Malden MA. Photo ©G D Bebeau

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

“Weather warm and dry. Ground for the most part free from Frost.” On the next day she noted: Skunk cabbage, Trillium nivale [Snow Trillium] and a few hepaticas opened this afternoon. All the early birds here.”

She began planting on April 4 plants that had been heeled in during the winter by Martha Crone. They went between the bird bath and the south (now front) gate. All were from Malden MA and included Queen Anne’s Lace, Heal-all, St. Johnswort, two goldenrods and an aster. But it began to snow in the evening and her notes for the next few days were not full of spring cheer:

5 April “Snowed all day. Ground covered to a depth of a foot.”
12 April “Snow melted, Froze last evening, turned warm today.”
13 April “Snowing again. A heavy snowfall.”
(9.5 inches on 13th/14th, making it the second largest single event snowfall in April in local weather history, as of 2021; second to 1923.)

It was not until April 21 that work could begin again when she made the curious note that “Wild crab on west hillside was grafted with wild roses.” Some planting occurred on the 22nd and 23rd but then the log copy I’m working from is missing data until 25 July. (1)

Eloise wrote an essay about the spring of 1928. She described the flow of flowering from the first Trillium to the end of spring which she described in this manner: “June 15 is expected to usher in the crowing event of the year - our wonderful state flower.” Read the entire essay here: Spring Exhibits in the Garden of 1928 (2)

One new species was listed in the abbreviated spring section of the log. Details below.

Summer 1928

The abbreviated log shows only one new species placed during the summer - details below.

Autumn 1928

Sky Blue Aster
Above: Sky Blue Aster, Symphyotrichum oolentangiense, ©G D Bebeau.

In the autumn Eloise obtained 4 new species for the Garden, detailed below. On of those is Scarlet Oak. This is the first note in her log about the species, but in a 1926 essay Trees in the Wild Garden, she stated that there was one specimen in the Garden. Did she mis-identify it or plant one earlier without noting it?

There are many notes in recent years in the log about a sand tank near the spring where some species were planted, especially violets. This may have been a bed for keeping young plants, and plants that needed good drainage. The spring would have been the Bubbling Spring located just NE of the current back gate of the Garden.

Her last log entry on October 19 said “planted from Glenwood Park 51 Aster azureus [Symphyotrichum oolentangiense ; Sky Blue Aster] on aster hillside displacing clematis.”

Sky Blue is one of several blue asters the Eloise planted continuously and in large quantities. This species is indigenous to the Garden but she planted it every year between 1915 and 1932. In 1917 she said she was “continuing blueing east hillside." The odd count of plants put in indicates they may have been seedlings obtained from the Park Board Nursery which was located across Glenwood Ave. from the Garden at Glenwood Lake.

During the autumn she also recorded planting a number of other species previously in the Garden from sources such as: Ninemile Creek; Kelsey’s Nursery, Salem MA; near Lake Independence; Taylor’s Falls; Anoka and near the Luce Line Rail Road.

When the Garden closed and the office was locked up she departed for the East Coast to visit her relatives as she has done every winter since 1911. While there she wrote to Martha Crone, informing Martha that she had sent another box of plants to Martha hoping Martha could heel them in until spring (just as she had done the previous year). It is a short note as she writes “my hands are more than full” with a sick niece. and “I can write only a short note.” But it is one of the few pieces of correspondence that illuminates where her political leanings were. She added a last paragraph: “But I must add that I am glad to be this winter in one of the few states that supported Governor Smith - - never known to go democratic before.” (4)

On November 27th the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Dr. Olaf Schussler had originated a petition to the Park Board place an ornamental fence around the old oak on Franklin Terrance (near the Mississippi River and Franklin Avenue) in order to protect its' roots and that the oak be named the "Eloise Butler Oak" in honor of the pioneer teachers of biology in the city. It is uncertain if approval was ever given. Dr. Schussler and his wife Edith were good friends of Eloise Butler.

Weather: Except the April cold and snow, 1928 was not an unusual year. Total precipitation for the year was just below normal.

New 1928 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. 1928 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 1928

Summer 1928

Autumn 1928

Dwarf Crested Iris
Dwarf Crested Iris, Iris cristata New summer planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau
Scarlet Oak
Scarlet Oak, Quercus coccinea. New autumn planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau

Photo top of page: Eloise Butler (left) and here sister Cora as young women. Photos courtesy Martha Hellander.

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

Year chart - all years

Garden History Archive

Printable PDF file of this page.

(1) The log copy used for this history has 1928 and 1929 mis-arranged. The log has details about the use of a pedometer placed in the 1928 gardening section, but that cannot be as it was not received until Christmas in 1928. A large group of planting information that was placed in 1928 from May 9 to Aug. 25 has been treated here as 1929, but it is possible, even probable, that other entries for the end of 1928 are really 1929. In the case of "first plantings" - it only misstates the date by one year.
(2) Spring exhibits in the Native Plant Reserve. Letter to Gray Memorial Botanical Chapter, (Division D ) of the Agassiz Association for inclusion in the members circular.
(3) Letter from Eloise Butler to Martha Crone 16 November 1923 (pdf)
(4) Letter from Eloise Butler to Martha Crone 16 November 1928 (pdf)
(5) Letter from Eloise Butler to Martha Crone 29 October 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 wildflowergarden.org" - 031322