Fall color

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1928/1929

This winter Eloise Butler was on the East Coast visiting her relatives, as had been her custom since she retired from teaching in 1911. Her residence was at 20 Murray Hill Rd, Malden, Mass.

Eloise sent two notes to Bill and Martha Crone. The first on January 2nd thanked them for a pedometer and tells about other gifts and Christmas time festivities, especially the musical activities in the newly created music room in the cellar. (1) About the pedometer she wrote: “If I wish for anything hard enough, I always get it! Now I shall know how many miles I traverse daily in the Reserve and during the season. Many, many thanks, and also for the dainty hand-wrought handkerchief.”

The second letter on January 23 thanked them for another Christmas gift that she did not mention in the first letter, and goes on to tell them what precautions they are taking in the household to prevent the flu, which has been bad in Boston and in Minneapolis.
We inhale Vapex every time we sneeze, gargle with Listerine, anoint our throats with Spunoint, etc, etc. …I am longing for spring and the garden. I hope that affairs can be adjusted here, so that I shall feel free to return at the usual time. (2)

She had been physically weakened due in part to neuritis and then from burns received sometime that winter when a heating pad caught fire while she was sleeping. Her doctors advised her (3) that the burns would always be covered with scar tissue, not true skin, so they would always be somewhat uncomfortable. It would be difficult for her to due extensive planting in the future, which is why the scale of planting diminishes. She would get help from Martha Crone and two young neighborhood men, Lloyd and Leroy Teeuwen. Lloyd will return to this history in 1932 and '33'.

Martha Crone preserved in her collection a Valentine card from Eloise sent from Malden this year (pdf). In late March Eloise 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 1929

The living room fireplace at 20 Murray Hill Road, Malden MA, where Eloise spent Winters. Photo courtesy Martha Hellander.

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

“Ground covered with three inches of snow.” But on April 3 the Trillium nivale [Snow Trillium] was in bloom; on the 4th one Hepatica appeared and on the 8th the Skunk Cabbage was pricking through the ground.

She began planting on April 9 plants with plants from Barnesville Ohio including one new species, appropriately named Harbinger of Spring. She added four other new species in the spring - details of all five below.

Other plants, those already represented in the Garden, came from Anoka MN; Barksdale WI; Askov, MN; the Quaking Bog; and Mille Lacs Lake.

The Garden Log copy used for this history has 1928 and 1929 mis-arranged. The details about the pedometer that you will find below, are placed in the 1928 section, but could not be based on the letter in note 1 of when it was obtained. A large group of planting information that was placed in the log in 1928 from May 9 to August 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.

Summer 1929

On June 14 at a meeting of the Committee on Nomenclature of the Board of Park Commissioners an action was taken to rename the Garden The Eloise Butler Wild Flower Garden. Her background and accomplishments were stated and that “a tablet is to be placed in the garden and her name will stand there so long as there is a Minneapolis.” This is from a document that appears to be a speech, probably given at the erection of that tablet - as the document concludes: “The Board of Park Commissioners wishing to confer upon Miss Butler, while she is yet here, due honor for this achievements, and wishing to make known their appreciation in this public manner, will place this tablet carrying her name.” [pdf of document]

The Garden name in 1929 and historically was spelled Wild Flower as two words, whereas today the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board uses “wildflower” - a change that occurred in 1969. See this document on a history of name changes.

In the Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners for this year, the name change of the Garden was mentioned.

The Garden log shows four new species planted during the summer - details below.

Other plants, those already represented in the Garden, came from Vicinity of Glen Lake MN; Brainerd MN; Excelsior MN; Barksdale WI; Northome MN; Nisswa MN; Madison MN; Duluth MN; and Waseca MN.

With the pedometer received for Christmas in 1928 from Martha Crone, Eloise records records her walking on August 1: “Pedometer registered last evening 632 miles. Traveled in Reserve during July 172 miles,” and on August 31 she wrote: “Pedometer has registered thus far 798 miles, Walked in August 166 miles.” (4).

Autumn 1929

Silky Aster
Above: Silky Aster, Symphyotrichum sericeum, ©G D Bebeau.

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

During the autumn she also recorded planting a number of other species previously in the Garden from sources such as: Iowa; Malden MA; Stillwater MN; Excelsior MN; Minnetonka Mills MN; Waltham MN; Barksdale WI; Dephi IN; Glenwood Park; Mrs. Hind’s Garden; Mrs. Johnson’s Garden; and Mrs. Nellie Taylor’s Garden.

At the end of September another pedometer note is provided: “Pedometer registered 952 miles. Traveled during September in Reserve 154 miles (4).” If she continued to track miles in future years or simply got tired of it, we don't know, but this is the last mention of the pedometer in the Log.

Mrs. Gaylord Davidson was birding in the Garden again (see 1926) in the fall and Eloise noted she counted 56 species on one day, 12 warblers among them. Later, when she is back in Malden MA, she mentions Mrs. Davidson again in a letter to Martha and Bill Crone:

Mrs. Davidson of St. Paul, has sent me some seeds of fringed gentian collected in Manitoba. Of course they may not germinate, but I think that they ought to be sown now. If you could slightly firm them in some earth in a small box, set them out of doors with a mulch of leaves, I would consider it a great favor. You know that the first season’s growth is very tiny. (3)

On October 3rd thousands of grackles were seen near “Monarch,” the big oak.

Her last log entries were - October 17 - “planted from Glenwood Park 13 Aster sericeus [Symphyotrichum sericeum , Silky Aster], east hillside, northeast of south entrance; 17 Aster azureus [Symphyotrichum oolentangiense ; Sky Blue Aster] on both sides of the path leading to south entrance and above bird bath.” On the 19th “Planted 13 more Aster azureus as above.” Planting these two aster species, and in large quantities, was virtually an annual occurrence between 1916 and 1932. In 1917 she said she was “continuing blueing east hillside." The odd count of plants put in from Glenwood Park indicates they may have been seedlings obtained from the Park Board Nursery which was located across Glenwood Ave. from the Garden at Glenwood Lake.

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. In her letter to the Crones of 27 November she first mentions the burns she has and how she treats them. It is evident from the text that the Crones already know about her burns but how she got them is unexplained. Martha Hellander’s research indicates the explanation given in the winter section above.

Weather: 1929 was not an unusual year except that total precipitation for the year continued to be just below normal. Good snow in January and February, but little in November and December.

New 1929 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. 1929 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 1929

Summer 1929

Autumn 1929

Harbringer of Spring
Harbinger of Spring, Erigenia bulbosa New spring planting. Photo ©Steve J. Baskauf, Wisconsin Flora.
Dragon's Mouth
Dragon's Mouth, Arethusa bulbosa. New summer planting. Photo ©R.K. Kupfer, Wisconsin Flora.
Orange Hawkweed
Orange Hawkweed, Hieracium aurantiacum, New spring planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau.

Photo top of page: Fall color of trees behind the fence separating the original Garden area from the post 1944 addition. The hillside behind the fence would have been the east hillside in Eloise Butler's time. Photo from a Kodachrome taken by Martha Crone on October 24, 1955. These Kodachromes were given to Friends of the Wild Flower Garden by Martha Crone Estate.

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

Year chart - all years

Garden History Archive

Printable PDF file of this page.

(1) Letter to Martha and Bill Crone 2 Jan. 1929 (pdf)

(2) Letter to Martha and Bill Crone 23 Jan. 1929. (pdf)

(3) Letter to Martha and Bill Crone 27 Nov. 1929. (pdf)

(4) The log copy used for this history has 1928 and 1929 mis-arranged. The details about the pedometer are placed in the 1928 section, but could not be of that time frame based on the letter in note 1. The pedometer notes have to be from 1929, and those log pages are being treated here as 1929 entries.

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" - 112020