Evergreens in snow 1932

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1931/1932

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.

She wrote to Martha and Bill Crone on Jan. 11 about Christmas gifts and family illnesses and added “I hope that you are having lots of 'the beautiful' this winter, but I have me doots. The first of ours to any extent fell Saturday eve and all the trees and bushes are weighted with white wool. Spring will be here before we know it and I am looking forward to the old tramping ground.” (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 1932

Snow Trillium
Snow Trillium, Trillium nivale. Photo ©G D Bebeau

Even though the year of 1931 ended with no snow on the ground and hardly any snowfall in that November and December, things changed immediately in January. Plenty of snow fell and Eloise Butler’s first Garden Log note of the season was on April 1st with this: “Considerable ice and snow in the garden. Season unusually late.” Just the opposite of 1931. On April 4 she noted it snowed all day.

On April 7: Trillium nivale [Snow Trillium] nearly opened. Rabbits have gnawed the purple and common clematis by the office to the ground.” On April 12 there was heavy frost, but she sowed seeds of southern Muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia) [a first], Twinberry Honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata), Flower of the Hour (Hibiscus trionum) and Pink corydalis (Corydalis sempervirens)

Many shipments of plants came in from Barksdale WI, including four of the five new species Eloise introduced. See details below

Summer 1932

Eloise Butler’s last major project in the Garden - Mallard Pool

The development of this pool was long on gestation and short on actual building. She could not move the idea to reality until 1932 when the pool was quickly constructed by an unemployed man, finished on July 7. She wrote: Ever since the Native Plant Preserve was started I have wished to have a pool constructed where two small streams converge in an open meadow, the only pool in the Preserve being too shady for aquatics. The hard times gave this joy to me, for a jobless expert did the work for a sum that could be afforded by the Park Commissioners. The pool is about 35 feet long, several feet narrower, and of irregular outline. Indeed, the contour is beautiful. The excavation was made in a dense growth of cat-tails. While digging, the workman saw a mallard duck wending its way through the meadow with a train of four little ones. Hence the name of the pool, as this duck had never been listed before in the Garden. (2)

Eloise on bridge
Detail of Eloise and the rustic bridge of tamarack polls. Wire netting was used to keep muskrats out. Photo Minnesota Historical Society MH5.9 MP4.1 r354

Another man [Lloyd Teeuwen] was employed to build a rustic bridge of tamarack poles to span the outlet at the lower end of the pool. The new pool was located in the wetland area just north of where the North Garden boundary is today. The original small pool that Eloise references in her comments above (pre-1909), is within the current Garden's north boundary and was renovated (dredged and a bottom liner installed) in 1992, but due to silting it is under consideration for restoration again today, as the progress of time and changes in the environment have worked their ways on the area. Eloise had planned extensive plantings around the new "mallard" pool. She had already begun planting along the margin of the pool on July 14 prior to the work being finished on July 29 when the bridge was completed. The plantings were completed by Martha Crone in 1933. In this same writing about the pool she details all the plants that are planned for the margin.

At the upper end of the pool was this device: “The Gurgler": Eloise continues - “The water entering gently by a short series of low rapids. Here my ingenious bridge-builder will insert a water-wheel made of galvanized tin and about five inches in diameter, designed to throw a mist-like spray over plants like Pinguicula that flourish on dripping rock. We call the place Atlantic City because, at each end of the bridge, a plank walk was laid over the cat-tail slough.”(2) Full details on the pool location, and the aftermath are aarticle: Open water in the wetland. The text of what Butler wrote about the pool are in this article: The Mallard Pool, 1932

Two new species were introduced (details below) and a number of other plants, already in the Garden, came during the summer from Glenwood Park; Barksdale WI; Columbia Heights MN; the Quaking Bog; Sarona WI; Anoka MN; Birch Pond; and Stillwater MN.

Autumn 1932

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

Numbers of other species previously in the Garden came from sources such as: Mrs. Cram up at Isle Royal (large quantity of plants); Sarona WI; Cincinnati OH; Anoka MN; Glenwood park; Marine on St. Croix, MN.

Her last log entries were on October 14 when she planted eleven species from Sarona WI along the margins of the new Mallard Pool.

map of mallard pool
Above: The approximate location of the Mallard Pool. The dotted walking path from Bubbling Spring westward toward Gentian Meadow is where the current North Garden boundary fence is located. Map courtesy Martha Hellander.

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 back at Malden she wrote more about the Mallard Pool. The ‘Gurgler’ had a slight revision that Eloise explained in the additional text. “The little water wheel (to be removed during the winter lest the paddles be bent by ice) has been inserted in “The Gurgler,” but the name has been changed to “The Jolly Spindrift.” It chugs around so merrily, the spray splashing in the sunlight, that everyone smiles audibly when he sees it. I gave it the name a first sight, to find afterward that it is a new coinage, the compound not being in the dictionary.” (3)

She also discussed the excavation of a smaller pool below the drainage from Mallard Pool in which she plans to add some special plants. Her final comment was: “Even now, at the beginning of work, the place with its setting is truly enchanting and I have to tear myself away from it. I shall dream of it all winter and conjure up the futurity of the plantings.”(3)

Alas, she would not finish it as she died on April 10, 1933 just after having returned to Minneapolis.

An additional late 1932 writing, unpublished, adds some anecdotes about her experiences with plants and while teaching. These notes are appended to the Mallard Pool Essay (4).

On Thanksgiving Day Lulu May Aler and a friend established the first bird feeding station at the Garden. This was the start of seasonal bird feeding in Glenwood Park which continues in the Garden to the present day. Read about the history of the bird feeding station and of Miss Aler in this article.

Weather: Following 1931, the warmest year in weather history down to the present, 1932 was more average. Precipitation still kept below normal, the year ended with snow on the ground unlike 1931.

New 1932 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. 1932 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 1932

Summer 1932

Autumn 1932

Plains Wild Indigo
Plains Wild Indigo, Baptisia bracteata New spring planting. Photo ©Merle R. Black, Wisconsin Flora
trailing Wild Bean
Trailing Wild Bean, Strophostyles helvola. New summer planting. Photo ©G D Bebeau.

Photo top of page: Christmas 1932, hemlocks in the Garden, photo by Martha Crone.

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 dated January 11, 1932. (pdf)
(2) The Mallard Pool, 1932, Letter to The Gray Memorial Botanical Chapter, (Division D ) of the Agassiz Association for inclusion in the members circular.
(3) Addendum 1 to the Mallard Pool Letter, 1932 unpublished.
(4) Addendum 2 to the Mallard Pool Letter, 1932 unpublished.

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 are 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