Eloise and friends

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1930/1931

This winter Eloise Butler had again 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.

Her first letter of the year to the Martha and Bill Crone was dated New Year's Day. She discussed the illnesses of her brother-in-law and niece. She wrote:
We have had over the holidays two visitors - - friends who have been a comfort to us, but it has been an extra care for me the chief housekeeper, although we have a very efficient woman who comes every day except Sundays to help.(1)
She then thanked them for the Christmas presents and explained what she did with the American Lotus seeds that the Crones sent her the previous fall. That episode is covered in the 1930 history.(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 1931

Eloise Butler
Eloise Butler August 3, 1931 at the dining table at Babcocks. Details below.

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

Weather warm, no snow on the ground, Season very backward. Hazel and Alder not yet tasseled out. The long drouth and lack of snow have probably caused the backwardness.

She began planting right away on April 2nd with seeds of Indian poke (Phytolacca). On the sixth, the flowers of Trillium nivale [Snow Trillium] began to open. Then on the 22nd she noted “3 days of cold and showers. Ice formed last night.” On May 7 she planted an unidentified aster from Barksdale WI and named it “Aster who’s it.”

On May 21 she noted in full bloom a Lonicera tartarica, Tartian honeysuckle. This is her first mention of the plant by name, although several generic species “Lonicera” were noted in prior years.

During the spring Eloise received several large shipments of plants from Robbins' Nursery in Ashford NC; from Barksdale WI; and from Gillett’s Nursery in Southwick MA. Only one species new to the Garden was included, a Longspur violet. Detail below.

Summer 1931

Eloise on June 1st noted “on the plateau, north of the office and near a small hawthorn started up a pheasant. Her nest had eleven eggs, one of which had rolled off a little distance from the others. Noted among the cat-tails five nests of red-winged blackbirds. One nest had four eggs -- beautiful blue, scrawled with dark purple Runic inscriptions.”

On July 28 Eloise noted:
Long drought broken by shower. The weather has been extreme hot as well as dry.
There had been a number of small showers this summer but this was the only one that exceeded an inch of rain. Summer temperatures were well above normal from the end of May onward.

Nine new species were added this summer. Four came from Mrs. Cram who was on Isle Royal and always sent plants back to the Garden by mail. Gertrude Cram was a good friend of Eloise and she would later be the same to Martha Crone.

A number of other plants, already in the Garden, came during the summer in June and July from Grand Marais MN and from Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay Ontario Canada). One might surmise that these also came from Mrs. Cram while making her way to Isle Royal for her annual August visit there. It’s possible also that they were sent by Martha Crone who frequently visited the North Shore of Lake Superior and continued to source plants there after she became curator.

Eloise’s birthday was August 3rd, her 80th. A party was held at her lodgings, the J.W. Babcock House at 227 Xerxes Ave. Two photos are shown here. Eloise sent copies of the birthday photos to the Crones August 14 with this note: "Dear "Cronies". -- I didn't know when you would be able to come into the garden so I am mailing you the snap shots of the joint birthday party. I thought you would (sic) to see how very English Dr. Crone and Mrs. Babcock look with their monocles as they sit at the table. I think that the out-door print is very good, except that the doctor is somewhat obscured by the dark tree trunk."

Eloise Butler's 80th birthday group picture

Above. A gathering of friends on her 80th birthday, August 3, 1931. From l to r: Miss Alma Johnson, frequenter of the Garden; Mrs John Hadden, a former pupil; Mrs. J. W. Babcock, in whose house Eloise lodged while in Minneapolis; Miss Clara K. Leavitt, fellow teacher; Eloise; Dr. W. H. Crone (behind Eloise); Miss Elizabeth Foss, botany teacher at North H.S.; Miss Mary K. Meeker, former pupil; Mrs. O. F. (Edith) Schussler, former pupil; Mrs Crone (Martha); Mrs. Louisa Healy, former pupil. Photo: Minnesota Historical Society, Martha Crone Papers.

Below: Following the outdoor photo above, the gathering moved indoors to the J. W. Babcock House at 227 Xerxes Ave. where Eloise boarded during the time that the Garden was open. The seating arrangement here is: Left side front to back - Mrs. Louisa Healy, Eloise Butler, Mrs. Schussler, Miss Leavitt and Miss Foss. Right side, front to back - Martha Crone, Mrs. Hadden, Miss Johnson, Mrs. Babcock and Dr. Wm. Crone. Photo: Minnesota Historical Society, Martha Crone Papers.

Birthday party in the Babcock House

Autumn 1931

In the autumn a lot of planting occurred. Eloise obtained 4 new species for the Garden, detailed below.

Large numbers of other species previously in the Garden came from sources such as: Nowthen, MN; Barksdale WI; Ferndale Nursery in Askov MN; Gillett’s Nursery in Southwick MA; St. Paul, MN; Sarona WI; Glenwood Park; and Fort Snelling, Minneapolis.

In April she had written an essay that we believe was unpublished, but may have been a letter to the Gray Memorial Botanical Chapter, (Division D ) of the Agassiz Association for inclusion in the members circular. It is titled The Attractiveness of vegetables and common weeds. In it she discusses a strange vegetable, a mis-shapped cabbage, but writes most about why she likes common weeds - at least most. She stated: “I cannot help admiring the pariahs of my garden, although competition is so fierce I must needs destroy them. If rare and difficult to cultivate, one would travel miles to see the golden heads of dandelion or the gossamer balls of down when in seed.” (1) Read it all here.

Her last log entries were on October 16 when she planted eleven species from Fort Snelling, Sarona WI, and from Glenwood Park.

Prior to her leaving for Malden she may have received a reply letter from Professor C. O. Rosendahl, Chairman of the Department of Botany at the University of Minnesota. In several instances, Eloise had approached him with the idea that the University take over supervision of her Garden. It would be very useful for the study of botany and for the University to use as an experimental site - or perhaps - working with the Park Board, to make an arboretum in that section of Glenwood Park.

Her most recent letter to him included a detailed list of the species found in the Garden and why it was such an important area. Rosendahl's reply of October 14, 1931 was addressed to her at the engraving office of her landlord, J. W. Babcock at 416 8th Ave. So, Minneapolis, where Eloise received her mail. He outlined the discussions he had with University people and why the proposal would not work. Then, in an abrupt ending paragraph, which must have hurt Eloise deeply, he wrote:

It is, therefore, clear that the botany department has no right nor legitimate reason for urging the arrangement set forth in your proposal and it will only cause us embarrassment to make any further attempt.(4)

This, from the man who was on the same Seaside Station research project in 1901 as Eloise, who had signed the original 1907 request to the Park Board to create the Wild Garden, and who was a fellow member of the Minnesota Chapter of the Wild Flower Preservation Society.

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.

Weather: 1931 was the warmest year in local weather history down to the present (2021). Temperatures reached 104 degrees in September. Precipitation was below normal, snowfall was almost non-existent.

New 1931 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. 1931 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 1931

Summer 1931

Autumn 1931

Field Bindweed
Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis, New summer planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau
Water Smartweed
Water Smartweed, Persicaria amphibia. New autumn planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau.
Dwarf Primrose
Dwarf Primrose, Primula mistassinica, New summer planting. Photo ©Asa Thoresen, Wisconsin Flora.

Photo top of page: Eloise Butler and friends at her 80th Birthday Party. Photo courtesy Martha Crone Collection, MHS.

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 1 January 1931 (pdf)
(2) Letter to Martha and Bill Crone 14 August 1931 (PDF copy)
(3) The attractiveness of vegetables and common weeds, April 1931, unpublished papers.
(4) Pdf copy of Rosendahl reply. Eloise Butlers letter is in the Rosendahl file of the Martha Crone Papers at the Minnesota Historical Society.

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