Calypso and Ramshead Slipper

1937 History
of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1936/1937

The Office of the Garden in 1936
The Garden "Office" in February 1936. Photo by Martha Crone.

1937 was Martha Crone’s 5th year in charge of the Garden as temporary curator. The Garden began its 31st year. (1)

The Garden came into the new year with adequate snow cover for the plants and this was followed by regular snowfalls in the first three months of the year. Significant snowfalls included one of over five inches at the end of March and one over 3 inches at the beginning of April. Snow depth increased as the winter days waned with up to 13” of snow depth in mid February. Unlike the previous year, the temperatures were not extremely cold in January and February and there was a spike up into the ‘50s in early March.

Martha was active in the Minnesota Mycological Society. She maintained her membership until at least 1977. She was Secretary of the Society from 1926 until 1943. Her husband, Dr. Wm. Crone was vice president of the Society again this year (first elected in 1929).

On December 31, 1936 the Crones had completed the purchase of property at Cedar Creek Forrest near East Bethel, MN and would spend time in 1937 planning the building of a cabin on the property.

Spring 1937

Preliminary notes about the plants. Native Status: Some of the plants obtained by Eloise Butler in the early years of the Garden were not native to Minnesota or if native, may have been difficult to establish in the Garden. Most of these are no longer present. Martha Crone was somewhat more selective of native plant material, but also brought in many species not native to Minnesota, and many of her imports have not survived either. The plants illustrated here, so one can see what they looked like, are mostly of the class no longer extant in the Garden. Some of those plants still existed at the time of Martha Crone's 1951 Garden Census and they are identified by the "(M.C.)" following the plant name. As for plants mentioned here that are still present in the Garden today, there may have been numerous re-plantings, and most have a web link to a detailed information/photo page, or, if not, are noted as being present in the Garden today - these are not illustrated in this article. 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 Checklist of the Vascular Flora of Minnesota from the University of Minnesota Herbarium.

Adam and Eve Orchid
Adam and Eve, (Aplectrum hyemale). Photo ©R K Kupfer, Wisconsin Flora

Martha Crone opened the Garden on April 1st, she noted in her log “Deep snow and ice in sheltered places. Birds lacking.” On April 3rd she noted “Heavy snow storm. Garden open all day.”

That was last significant snowfall. On April 8th she began to record the appearance of birds starting with goldfinch, fox sparrow, herring gull, ring-billed gull, killdeer, western and eastern meadowlark and yellow-bellied sapsucker. On April 13th, the Snow trillium was in bud ready to open.

On May 1st she began her planting for the season with a dozen Silvery Spleenwort (Asplenium thelypteroides - now - Deparia acrostichoides) and a dozen Adam & Eve orchids (Aplectrum hyemale). [photo] Birds continue to occupy her notes throughout May. Mid-may was cloudy and rainy but waves of warblers came through. Mr. Yelick put up a new birdhouse for the Crested Fly-catcher in a dead poplar on the 9th and on the 10th she recorded the first Mosquito. Many school classes came through the Garden in mid-May.

On May 23, Dr. Roberts (Roberts, Thomas Sadler, 1858-1946, who wrote Birds of Minnesota) was in the Garden to examine the clump of 24 Ram’s- head Lady-slippers that Martha had transplanted from Cedar Forest the previous summer. The clump had 30 blooms. He noted it the finest clump he had ever seen. Martha noted in her report to the Board of Park Commissioners, the reestablishment of the plant after many years of failed effort. She also mentioned success with Calypso (Calypso borealis - usually categorized as Calypso bulbosa) and commonly known as the Fairy Slipper Orchid, a most beautiful small orchid. [photos below and top left]

Ramshead slipper
Ram's head Lady-slipper (Cypripedium arietinum). Photo from a Kodachrome taken in the Garden by Martha Crone on June 9, 1954.

On May 25th W. J. Breckenridge, Director of the Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota, was in the Garden to look at the Ram's-heads. He later sent Martha a photo of them and noted what a fine clump it was. He also took with him a specimen of a crab apple on the west path to be identified. It came back as a hybrid between Malus prunifolia, the plum-leafed crab and Malus baccata, the Siberian Crab. Copy of his letter. This could very well be the same crabapple that was listed as a Minneapolis Heritage Tree by Martha's successor, Ken Avery, and Dan Hasty in 1985. By that time it was 36 feet high with a trunk of 45 inches circumference.

The first hot day of the spring was May 28 with a temperature of 82 degrees. A nest with 15 pheasant eggs was found and 12 hatched on June 17th.

Martha's May and June plantings included two plants she had not previously planted in the Garden:

Spring weather was finally back into an average seasonal track as to temperature and rainfall after the disastrous summer of 1936.

Glade Fern
Glade Fern (Asplenium augustifolium). Photo ©G D Bebeau
Fairy Slipper Orchid
Fairy Slipper Orchid, (Calypso bulbosa); Photo from a Kodachrome taken in the Garden by Martha Crone on June 1, 1954.
Silvery False Spleenwort
Silvery Spleenwort (Deparia acrostichoides). Photo ©G D Bebeau

Summer 1937

Rare Clubmoss
Rare Club Moss (Lycopodium obscurum); Photo ©Aaron Carlson, Wisconsin Flora.

The Showy lady’s slipper bloomed on June 17th.
Martha Crone recorded the fledging of five bluebirds on July 2 from their nest west of the office. She noted there was only 15 minutes between the first and last leaving the nest and all flew perfectly. By August 15 she was recording warblers showing up for their migration. For Hummingbirds, she set up 3 bottles on the windows of the office filled with sugar water, 8 parts to 1. Today 4 to 1 is usually recommended.

Her sources for plants in the summer were Twin Lake, Cedar Swamp, the North Shore and St. Croix. She planted many species already in the Garden and the following first time plants (First time noted in her garden log):

Liverleaf Wintergreen
Liver-leaf Wintergreen (Pyrola asarifolia). Photo ©Arthur Meeks, Wisconsin Flora.

Neither plant is present today, nor had they survived to the time of her 1951 Garden Census.

In her Annual Report to the Board of Park Commissioners she tallied the many groups that arrived for tours during the summer, which included school classes, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Scout Leaders, Garden Clubs and various other Clubs. (2) A lecture was given on July 29 for the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club given at the home of Mrs. Russell Bennett on Lake Minnetonka. On June 10 she gave a tour of the Garden to members of the Minnesota Garden Flower Society following their picnic lunch in Glenwood Park. Back on May 3rd she have given a tour to the Little Garden Club of Minnetonka. (3)

The July 29 talk and the May 3rd tour may have been the introduction to the Wildflower Garden for the two Garden Clubs. In later years they donated to the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, first in 1955 both clubs donated for the development of the Fern Glen, then in 1969 the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club donated for the new Garden shelter and made undesignated donations in later years. Russell Bennett became a founding director of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden in 1952

The summer weather was warmer that the seasonal norms but nothing like the summer of 1936, plus there were rains during the summer months, unlike a year previous when there was no rain for two months and record high temperatures.

Office Repairs
During the warm months the Garden office was repainted inside and outside and repairs were made to the roof. (4)

Below: A group of men, who appear to be Park officials as one is in uniform, in the summer of 1937 on the tarvia path separating the lower or northern enclosure (on the left side) from the southern enclosure. The fencing is of 1924 vintage most of which Eloise Butler had erected that year. The northern enclosure was the north meadow now just beyond the Garden’s back fence. At the time it housed Eloise Butler’s Mallard Pool and many orchids. The northern enclosure was abandoned by 1944. Photo from Martha Crone Collection at MHS.

1937 garden photo

Autumn 1937

Western Rattlesnake Plantain
Menzies Rattlesnake Plantain, (Goodyera oblongifolia) Photo ©R. A. Kupher, Wisconsin Flora.

Martha Crone received plants from Mrs. Cram, who was up at Isle Royal, which Martha planted on Sept. 2nd. Ten Calypso (Calypso bulbosa) [photo top of page, left] and 8 Menzies Rattlesnake Plantain (Epipactis decipiens - now - Goodyera oblongifolia - the Western Rattlesnake Plantain). This last plant is native to Isle Royal but not to Minnesota [photo this page].

On September 12th the Frondosa mushroom was growing but was destroyed by squirrels days later. A Grinnell’s Water Thrush was brought in injured, but soon died. The university determined it has a broken breast bone.

Fall plantings - Martha's sources for some plants in the fall were Mrs. Cram at Isle Royal and Cedar Swamp, but the source of most plantings was not mentioned.

She planted many species already in the Garden and the following first-time-for-her plants (First time noted in her garden log, but previously in the Garden):

Long-leaved Aster
Long-leaved Aster; (Symphyotrichum robynsianum) Photo ©Sue Crispin, Wisconsin Flora.

These plants added in the fall are extant today
Cardinal Flower,
Sky Blue Aster,
Yellow Lady’s-slipper,
Smooth Aster,
Virginia Mountain Mint,

Her last noted activity was planting some asters in the first days of October.
During the Garden season, Martha would receive by mail many specimens of plants and mushrooms for her to identify. She would dutifully correspond with the senders of these specimens even though it took up a great deal of her time.

Her report for the year to the Board of Park Commissioners stated that “922 plants had been set out, comprising 53 species, representing 39 genera and 22 families”. Her final plea to the Commissioners was for a new fence to enclose the Garden as the old was of little service. In 1938 some new fencing was added by workers of the WPA (Works Progress Administration).

Polyporus frondosus
Hen of the Woods, (Polyporus frondosus). Photo by Martha Crone.

Weather in the fall was a little warmer than average until November when it turned cooler than average. Snowfall was extremely light in November and December, ending the year with minimal snow cover for the plants.

Note 1: Martha was appointed "temporary" Curator in April 1933 to work until Oct. 1st, 1933 for $60 per month. (Letter of Superintendent Theodore Wirth to the Board of Park Commissioners dated April 18, 1933). This arrangement was confirmed in 1936 and 1938 by the Minneapolis Civil Service Commission that her position was "temporary Curator" at the same rate of pay. It was not until April 4, 1940 that the position was confirmed permanent.

Note 2: Martha Crone's Annual Report to the Board of Park Commissioners dated December 10, 1937.

Note 3: Minnetonka Club reported in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune July 31, 1937. Flower Society reported June 5 and 8, 1937, same paper. Little Garden Club tour announcement, April 4, 1937, same paper.

Note 4: The Story of W.P.A. in the Minneapolis Parks, Parkways and Playgrounds - 1937

Historical photo at top of page (Left) Calypso, Calypso Bulbosa, on June 1, 1954. (Right) Ram's-head Lady's-slipper, Cypripedium arietinum, on June 9, 1954. Both photos from Kodachromes taken by Martha Crone.

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Year chart - all years

Garden History Archive

Printable PDF file of this page.

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

Other References:

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.

Kodachromes of Martha Crone are from her collection that was given to the Friends by her daughter Janet following Martha's death in 1989.

Historical Climatology of Minneapolis-St. Paul Area by Charles Fisk.

Friends Home Page

©2017 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. Photos credited to others 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. "" - 030122