Martha Crone begins her 20th year as Garden Curator.
NOTE on photos: From 1948 to 1957 Martha Crone assembled a collection of Kodachrome slides that she took of plants and landscape of the Wildflower Garden. The assemblage eventually totaled over 4,000 slides. She used these slides to give illustrated lectures about the Garden to various clubs, groups and organizations. Martha Crone was a founding member of The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, a director from 1952 to 1972 and an honorary life member thereafter.
After her death in 1989 her daughter Janet, passed the collection to the Friends via Friends member Martha Hellander who was in the process of researching a book about Eloise Butler. The Friends sorted the collection and then for a short time, used them at lectures about the Garden. Some of those images are shown on this page.
The Garden opened about two weeks late due to snows and cold weather. There was a snow storm on March 22 that dropped 15 inches of snow. Snow was still several feet deep in garden on the 1st. April 6 to the 11th was still cold with deep snow. Martha chipped out the ice around the Garden gate on the 9th and opened.(1)(2)
The first Snow Trillium came out on April 14. The week of the 13 to 19 was very warm, and by April 20 the temperature was 80 degrees. Unusually warm for April as these temperatures indicate: 4/26 - 81°, 4/27 - 85°, 4/29 - 91°, 4/30 - 92°. The early plant bloom, delayed by the snow, was then accelerated by the warm weather, as the date on some of her photos indicates.
On April 20, she planted 4 unusual non-native plants that were obtained from Robbins Blue Ridge Nursery in Ashford NC:
As to that last plant - in 1954 she wrote about the Citronella: [The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 2 No. 2)]
Did you know that Citronella (Collinsonia canadensis) of the mint family is another plant that has many common names. Its one scientific name definitely identifies it. Some of the common names are Rich-leaf, Stone-root, Knob-root, Knob-grass, Horse-weed, Knob-week, Ox-balm, Horse-balm, and Collinson's-flower. It grows native from Quebec to Ontario south to Florida and westward. This erect branched perennial is well established in the Wild Flower Garden. The yellow, lemon-scented flowers appear in October and bloom until frost. Oil of Citronella is not derived from this plant.
On May 19th the Hummingbirds returned to the Garden.
On June 18th Articles of Incorporation were filled with the State of Minnesota for The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc., a non-profit group formed for the purposes of advancing, promoting and furthering the interests of the Municipal Wild Flower Garden in Theodore Wirth Park conducted by the Board of Park Commissioners of the City of Minneapolis.
The legal work of creating the articles of incorporation and the bylaws was done my Joseph Colman of the Dorsey Firm. He also handled the filing of non-profit status with the Internal Revenue Service and that status was approved in late 1953.
The founding directors were Clinton M. Odell, Russell H. Bennett, Dorothy Binder, Martha E. Crone, Donald C. Dayton, Leonard F. Ramberg.
Clinton Odell was a student of Eloise Butler and a frequent visitor to the Wild Flower Garden. When Martha Crone became curator he provided assistance to her. He felt it imperative there always be a group of citizens who would work for the best interests of the Garden. He was concerned the Garden could become expendable if the Park Board had to cut costs. His full story is found in this article: Clinton Odell.
The background of the other directors is: Russell H. Bennett was Chairman of the Board of Dunwoody Institute; Dorthy Binder was a Twin Cities Journalist; Donald C. Dayton was President of the Dayton Company; Leonard F Ramberg was affiliated with the American Swedish Institute and Augsburg College where he was later Chairman of the Board of Regents. Details on those four directors HERE.
The Summer was fairly dry and Martha Crone had to use supplemental water.(1) She also added two additional non-native species to the Garden:
On of the plant oddities repeated itself this year. Martha located Rue anemone doubles. Two on May 19 near Fletcher MN and 10 on July 31 at Red Wing MN. In 1951 she was given one “in coffee can from Mrs H. S, Olson, 302 So. D. St., Lake Worth, Florida, found at Wacouta near Red Wing in 1923.” (1951 Garden Log)
In October of 1952 Martha planted several more exotic species - the first of which is a real pest and has been stubbornly eliminated.
On October 21 Martha wrote: "Witch Hazel on west hill came into bloom. Garden is tinder dry, no rain since last of August. Sprinklers going everywhere. Several killing frosts last week. Water pipes froze in some parks and burst, we kept faucets partly open."
Martha Crone had produced a brochure titled “Self Conducted Tour" thru the Garden and nearly 10,000 were handed out this past year.(1) [example below] She estimated attendance at more than 50,000 persons. She also totaled her new plant count at 1,067 of which 231 were purchased and the remained sourced by Martha herself from various scrounging around. Some of those plants were the new additions noted above. The remainder were species already in the Garden. Martha was fond of starting plants from seed in the fall and a number of the plants she reports setting out in the Garden in large quantities undoubtedly came from seedlings.
Even though the Garden closed on October 31, Martha was still busy planting in November. Her last entry in her log was on Nov. 17. when she logged planting 25 Twinflower, Linnea borealis, along the marsh path.
She was still in the process of completing a slide library for group talks and during the year she gave 27 illustrated slide lectures to clubs, garden groups, school groups and others totaling over 1,600 persons this year. The two largest groups were the Woman’s Club and the Minnesota Horticultural Society. (1)
In her report to the Park Board, Martha also acknowledged the founding of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden and that it is composed of “public spirited citizens for the furtherance of making the garden an outstanding institution. It is a non-profit corporation, no officers of which can draw any salaries. The official publication of this group is called “The Fringed Gentian” and is issued quarterly. Timely articles and items of interest to the members will be published there-in.”
During the year Clinton Odell provided the funds for another 100 aluminum plant labels, adding to those he had provided in previous years.
Below: The front page of the new Self Conducted Tour brochure. It was eight pages, containing trail descriptions and a map. The map is shown in the 1947 history. An application for membership in The Friends was included. The brochure was printed by the Dayton Company. Donald Dayton, President of Daytons was on the Friends Board of Directors. PDF image of entire brochure.
Below: Martha Crone's 1952 hand-drawn map that was part of the Tour brochure. The scale vertically is much compressed to fit the paper size.
(1) Annual Reports of the Garden Curator to the Board of Park Commissioners - dated Feb, 4, 1953 to Charles E. Doell.
(2). Garden Log
Photo top of page: The Marsh photographed on May 15, 1952 by Martha Crone. Note the open pool of water which was one of the three new pools Martha had excavated in 1947. Click on image for the full image.
Martha Crone's Annual Report to the Board of Park Commissioners dated Feb. 4, 1953 to Superintendent Charles E. Doell.
Martha Crone's Garden Log and her 1951 Census of plants in the Garden.
Various papers and correspondence of Eloise Butler and Martha Crone in the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society.
Photos by Martha Crone are from her collection of Kodachromes that was given to the Friends by her daughter Janet following Martha's death in 1989.
Meeting Minutes and correspondence of The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden.
Historical Climatology of Minneapolis-St. Paul Area by Charles Fisk.