Fall garden scene

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1929/1930

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 3 she wrote to Martha and Bill Crone about having the flu, Christmas gifts received, and the disagreeable weather. She added “I am looking forward to our reunion in the spring when we will make the welkin ring with joy over the burgeoning of the Crone Plantations.” (1) The Crone Plantations were special areas in the Garden where certain plants obtained by Martha and Bill Crone were planted including dry-land plant areas referred to as the Cactus Rockery and little Sahara.

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 1930

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

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

“Hepatica beginning to bloom, Trillium nivale [Snow Trillium] in blossom.” She began planting on April 6 with Pasque Flowers - an almost yearly occurrence.

She recorded very little other planting during the spring, Just 11 Phlox divaricata (Wild Blue Phlox) and one clump of Castilleia sessiliflora (Yellow Indian Paintbrush).

Eloise explained the spring of 1930 this way:
Spring was late and cold with continual downpours. The early blooms were much belated, but the last heavy frost was later than usual, so that the new foliage had had time to develop a resistant epidermis and did not suffer as in the year before, when May Apple and twisted stalk were blighted and fern fronds seared. The flower buds of dogwoods and viburnums were, however, badly affected, and the food for birds was materially diminished. The unfolding buds of walnuts and hickories were, as usual, frozen, I despair of ever having any nuts develop.(2)

Summer 1930

Summer was also very light in planting. She obtained asters and Goldenrod from Glenwood Park, pitcher plants from the Quaking Bog; there were a few plants from Michigan and Northern Minnesota and that was it. No new species were introduced.

Eloise explains why she planted little this summer:
Then followed the unprecedented midsummer drought. The wild garden suffers less than other places on account of the lie of the land - drainage flowing into it from three sides. But this season foliage of shrubs on the hillsides shriveled and dropped off. I did not mind the prickly ash dying, of which I have a superfluity. On this shrub during the early wet season there developed a disgusting scale insect enwrapping nearly every twig. The heroic remedy applied was pruning and burning, lest the pest might spread to other plants. I cannot tell until next season how many plants were killed outright by the drought.

The most apparent effect was the smaller crop of autumn blooms and the scarcity of mushrooms. In one respect I was surprised. A year ago a drought prevented the annual appearance of the huge edible fan tuft (Polyporus frondosus) at the base of our venerable white oak [Monarch]. Sometimes it has attained a weight of over eight pounds. This year it sprang up again and grew to a goodly size. It was taken up while still growing for the delectation of the Mushroom Club.(2)

Autumn 1930

Carolina Rose
Above: Pasture Rose (Carolina Rose), Rosa carolina, ©G D Bebeau.

In the autumn a lot of planting occurred. Eloise obtained 11 new species for the Garden, detailed below.

Large numbers of other species previously in the Garden came from sources such as: Delphi IN; Barksdale, WI; Glenwood Park; the Park Board Nursery; Mendota MN; Stillwater MN; and Mr. Babcock’s Garden. The Park Board nursery provided 30 Pasture Rose, Rosa carolina; and 30 Canada Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis.

Her last log entries were on October 14 when she planted five species from her source in Dephi Indiana.

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.

It was after she arrived on the East Coast that she had more of 1930 to write about:

Since I left Minneapolis this fall, an interesting discovery was made. A wild duck was given to a pair of ardent nature lovers [Martha and Bill Crone]. In dressing the bird, some undigested seeds of American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) were found in the gizzard. This was enough to start an investigation, for the lotus has been nearly exterminated in the vicinity of Minneapolis. The duck was shot near the neighboring town of Stillwater. [actually Shakopee according to Martha Crone]. My friends thought that they knew every square rod of the territory. But a vigorous search revealed much to their delight a large tract of lotus that had been concealed in blossoming time by a rank growth of tall grasses.

A quantity of seeds were collected and encased in balls of clay to serve as sinkers The ponds around my garden were bombarded with these balls, and a quantity of seeds were sent to me to distribute in Massachusetts, I have sent some to the director of Harvard’s botanic garden, and some will be planted in the cemetery where my sister, Mrs. Cora E. Pease, lies buried. The lotus is said to be the largest flower of this latitude. The appearance is striking when the flower in full bloom. And the large top-shaped receptacle is very singular. It breaks off [and] rolls over and over in the water, shedding the seeds through the perforated disk like a patent seed dropper.(2)

American Lotus
Above: American Lotus, Nelumbo lutea, ©Merle R. Black, Wisconsin Flora.

In a letter to Martha and Bill Crone in October, Eloise wrote to them about the Lotus seed discovery:
I never heard of such a wonderful ‘snoopin’ ! It reads like a fairy tale or a story out of Arabian Nights. I shall rehearse it for my botanical correspondence club [as she did as quoted above - to the Gray Memorial Botanical Chapter, (Division D ) of the Agassiz Association]. I left Minneapolis the 17th, the day after your bombardment, in such a hurry that I did not have time to telephone to any one. (3)

More followup on the lotus seeds was forwarded to the Crones on January 1, 1931 when Eloise wrote them that she had received some of the lotus seeds from them and added
? I expect to have “Crone Plantations” in all the ponds hereabout where protection can be guaranteed. I have written to the Director of Harvard Botanic Gardens to ask if he wishes any seeds for his gardens and the Arboretum. What a wonderful discovery you made!. I embodied in my annual report to Mr. Wirth your account of the bombardment of Birch Pond. I want your work to be appreciated at headquarters. (4)

Weather: 1930 was noted for sharp temperature changes during the latter part of the year and for a lack of precipitation. Rainfall was well below average, little snowfall in January - March and next to none in November-December. The winter of 1930/31 had only 15 inches of snow, leading into the warmest year in weather history.

New 1930 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. 1930 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 1930

No new species were introduced

Summer 1930

No new species were introduced

Autumn 1930

Wild Onion
Wild Onion, Allium Stellatum New autumn planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau
Eastern Bluestar
Eastern Bluestar, Amsonia taberaemontana. New autumn planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau.
Biennial Gaura
Biennial Gaura, Gaura biennis, New autumn planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau.

Photo top of page: The Garden office hidden by Fall foliage, photo from a Kodachrome taken by Martha Crone on October 15, 1950. These Kodachromes were given to Friends of the Wild Flower Garden by Martha Crone's 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 3 January 1930 (pdf)
(2) The Wild Garden in 1930, February 1931 Letter to Gray Memorial Botanical Chapter, (Division D ) of the Agassiz Association for inclusion in the members circular.
(3) Letter to Martha and Bill Crone 28 October 1930 (Pdf)
(4) Letter to Martha and Bill Crone 1 January 1931 (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