Yellow Trout Lilies

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
and The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden

Winter 1959/60

Ken Avery begins his 2nd year as Gardener. Both Sam Baker and Ed Bruckelmyer help Ken in the Garden this year.

Dorothy Binder
Friends President Dorothy Binder (left) and Martha Crone. Newspaper photo from the 1959 dedication of the Odell memorial bench in the Upland Garden.

In the Winter of 1959-60 there was light precipitation after the first week of November, 1959 and in December the temperatures were well above normal, seldom below 20 degrees and very little precipitation. There was no snow cover at the end of the year. Not a good omen for the coming years plant growth and for winter protection. After the new year temperatures continued well above the average range, there were few snowfalls and snow depth was minimal for most of the winter. This would lead to plant loss in the spring.

Martha Crone wrote in the winter issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 8 No. 1), that:

A wild flower garden is always a pride and pleasure and the finest heritage that can be passed on to the next generation.

The annual meeting of The Friends was held on January 5th, at the home of President Dorothy Binder. Mrs. Binder was a founding member of The Friends and became president in 1958 upon the death of Clinton Odell, Friends founder and first president.

Elected to the Board of Directors were: Russell Bennett, Earle Brown, Dorothy Binder, Elizabeth Carpenter, Martha Crone, Walter Lehnert, Russell Nye, Leonard Odell, Leonard Ramberg, Carl Rawson, Ebba Tolg. Mr. Lehnert would have a long association with the Friend’s Board. Leonard Odell was the son of Clinton Odell.

At the Board Meeting following, Dorothy Binder was reelected President; Leonard F. Ramberg (another founding member) was elected Vice-President and Martha Crone was reelected Secretary/Treasurer and she continued as editor of The Fringed Gentian™ and as membership secretary.

It was voted to give $500 to the Board of Park Commissioners to assist in maintenance of the Wild Flower Garden, the same amount as in past years since the founding of the Friends in 1952.

Spring 1960

New Jersey Tea
New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) Photo G D Bebeau

In the Garden, Ken Avery discovers that there has been extensive loss to the Trilliums during the winter. (The winter of 1958-59 was also very hard on the Garden plants.)

In The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 8 No. 2), Friends President Dorothy Binder notes that The Friends must work for new members. She outlines a plan for a day of conducted tours for members in the Garden and they need to bring along a potential new member. The outing is held on May 14th with great success and 24 new members are signed.

In the same newsletter issue editor Martha Crone writes about Chicory and New Jersey Tea and she prints the poem by Blake:

The sun does arise
And make happy the skies
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring.

Meanwhile, the weather returned to fairly average temperatures in the spring except for some abnormally hot days in April. Rainfall was not heavy but sufficient during the spring months.

In her positions as editor of the newsletter, secretary and treasurer of the Friends Martha Crone received numerous letters relating to membership and about her gardening skills. Here are two examples:

1. Robert Dassett (who would later be President of The Friends 1971-1975) writes on May 18th. ”Enclosed is a check for $5 to enroll me as a Friend. A thousand dollars couldn’t even begin to repay for the wonderful hours spent in the Garden. I’ll cherish forever those moments spent on the paths in the Garden and also in your little cabin chatting about all sorts of wonderful things, but mostly about birds and flowers.”

2. On May 21 Martha has a communication from Mrs. Ellsworth (Miriam) Bushnell in which she says she is sending a bunch of corms that had not bloomed in ten years and could Martha identify them!

Martha Crone continued to be active in the Mycological Society and to give lectures about wildflowers to groups using her large slide collection that she had started in 1948. An example was an illustrated talk on mushrooms and the wildflowers at Eloise Butler given to the Societies annual meeting on May 2 at the Walker Library. (Minneapolis Tribune)

Summer 1960

Odell Memorial Benches
The pair of Limestone benches near the Visitors Shelter, installed in 1960 and dedicated to Clinton Odell. Photo G D Bebeau

Summer was kind to the Garden. There was adequate rainfall and temperatures were within the average range for the period except for some hot days in the last half of July. The “Violet Path” was dug up and replanted by assistant gardener Sam Baker. A large Bird's-foot Violet bed (Viola pedata) was renovated in the Upland Garden. (Not present today - see photo below). Martha Crone had planted this species in the Garden beginning in 1933 and then extensively in 1945 and later when she developed the Upland Garden. But Eloise had preceded her, beginning in 1907 and for many years during her tenure. Martha noted the work in her annual report (2).

Practically all of Violet Path has been redone as well as the large Bird's-foot Violet bed in the upper garden. Several other beds were established. Perhaps it is difficult to understand that compact beds of wild flowers soon are run out by more aggressive plants, therefore have to be replanted.

In The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 8 No. 3), Martha wrote to encourage groups to establish wildflower reserves and later in the year she would see some personal success from this. She had previously written in the Winter issue that -

A wild flower garden is always a pride and pleasure and the finest heritage that can be passed on to the next generation.

She wrote of “Summer in the Garden”:

There is a kind of pause as summer passes its peak and prepares to coast down through August toward September and the splendor of summer is gone. For summer reveals the maturity of all creation. The lazy air is still full of fragrance.

And for more variety she wrote of porcupines and black bears.

The Minneapolis Woman’s Club awarded Gardener Ken Avery a 2-week fellowship to the Audubon Camp during August 8 - 22.

Old Garden settees
The Settees of the old Office shown here in 1935. Photo Martha Crone Collection, MHS.

During the summer a pair of Kasota Limestone benches dedicated to Clinton Odell, were placed near the bird feeders by the Garden Office. They replaced a pair of wooden "settees" that were situated at the time very close to the old Garden "office" in the Woodland Garden. Today the location is just off the patio area in front of the newer Martha Crone Visitor's Shelter, so one can use the current location of the benches to know where the old benches were located. The old office sat where now is the flat patio area. The benches were presented by Odell’s daughter, Moana Odell Beim (Mrs. Raymond) in honor of her father. The inscription on the dedication plaque reads:

“In loving memory of my father, Clinton M. Odell devoted patron of this sanctuary. M.O.B.”

A bird bath was added later in 1967, between the two benches, in honor of Amy Odell, Moana’s mother. Clinton Odell was the Founder of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden and had passed away June 4, 1958. In 1959 a bench in his honor had been dedicated in the Upland Garden.

During the Summer Ken Avery began to use wood chips to cover the paths in the Garden, paths which would be muddy and slippery in wet weather. He explained that the previous use of pea gravel by Martha Crone was OK but that in dry weather it would roll and be just as dangerous as mud. The chips from tree trimming were also in harmony with the place. (1). Most of these chips were from elm trees and years later Ken's successor, Cary George, would replace elm with cedar shavings which absorbed a bit of moisture and stayed put, whereas the elm had a tendency to float around in wet weather. Cedar shavings came from the trimming of utility poles.

Below: A large bed of Bird's-foot Violet (Viola pedata) established in the Upland Garden as photographed on June 2, 1950. Image from a Kodachrome slide taken by Martha Crone

Historic Birdfoot violet planting

Autumn 1960

Fern Glen
A view of part of the Fern Glen in 2012. Photo G D Bebeau

In the fall, plantings of Trillium and Trout Lilies were separated and more Trillium planted after the extensive loss in the past winter. Martha Crone noted the work in her annual report:

Many Trilliums were lost during the severe winter, these were replaced. A heavy layer of leaves is spread on the new fern bed to keep down weeds and stop erosion. Other plants in the prairie garden were covered with hay since the exposure to the winter sun is disastrous.

Many ferns were added to the new Fern Glen. Ken Avery set out 75 Ostrich Ferns, 150 Interrupted Ferns and 25 Lady Ferns.

In 1955 the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden had received a gift of funds from the Minnetonka Garden Club and the Little Minnetonka Garden Flower Club that Martha Crone used to create a fern glen in an undeveloped part of the Garden. Martha began this project in late 1955 preparing the site and began planting in 1956 by setting out 2,160 fern plants followed by 308 the next year and completing her endeavor on the project in 1958 when the total reached 2,844 fern plants. The fern glen is an amphitheater like hillside in the Northeast Corner of the Upland Garden. It now has an extensive tree canopy and a number of the ferns have died out over the years, but a large number still cover the hillsides.

Ken Avery's plantings brought the fern count up to 3,094 ferns provided, prior to any annual losses. The grant was $775, so that money bought a lot of ferns in the late 1950s. This 1960 planting completed the project that Martha had started in late 1955.

Ken noted in his report to the Park Board (1) the extensive attendance of children’s visits:

From the middle of April until after school is our we average at least five groups of children each day, such as Blue Birds, Girl Scouts, etc. While it is extremely difficult to estimate the total attendance for the year, I believe I am being realistic in saying that we had at least one hundred thousand visitors during this last season.

Interrupted Fern
The Interrupted Fern - the last species planted in the Fern Glen by Ken Avery in 1960. Photo G D Bebeau

In The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 8 No. 4), Martha Crone discussed the method for planting Trillium and criticized the application of the name “Wake Robin” to the North American Trillium. Wake Robin is European and a member of the Arum Family. Friends President Dorothy Binder wrote about the success of the May Open House and about Mrs. Raymond Beim’s gift of the stone benches to the Garden.

Martha Crone gave five slide lectures about the Garden to various groups using her extensive collection of Garden slides. The Friends added 25 new members during the year and now had a paid membership of 180.

Fall temperatures were fairly average but with some warm and cold spikes, however there was light precipitation after the first week of November and in December. There was no snow cover through November and December except for one inch measured during the last week of the year. Not a good sign for next years plant growth and for winter protection. January and February 1961 were not much better.

Correspondence about establishing wildflower reserves:

Late in the year Martha Crone received notice from Lucille Walker of the Grand Marais [Minnesota] Garden Club that she had been elected an honorary member. The Garden Club had just established what they named “The Wild Flower Sanctuary” and Martha had given them some guidance in that endeavor; that contact may have come from Martha's advocacy of establishing wildflower reserves that she published in The Fringed Gentian™ earlier in the year.

Martha received a letter on December 20th from a Kenneth Lindsay of Milwaukee who had just joined the Friends and had received Martha’s welcome letter. In his letter he recollects his visit to the Garden years prior and how, as a result of that visit, he and his wife have developed their own wildflower garden.

(1). Annual Report of the Garden Curator to the Board of Park Commissioners dated March 7, 1961, covering 1959 and 1960, addressed to Mr. Lucking, as the Superintendent position had been vacated by Charles Doell. Mr. Lucking is Greg Lucking, Parks horticulturist from 1940 to 1966.
(2). Friends of the Wild Flower Garden Secretary’s Report - 1960

Photo top of page: Yellow Trout-lily, (Erythronium americanum). Photo ©G D Bebeau

To History of: Previous Year ----------- Subsequent Year

Year chart - all years

Garden History Archive

Friends 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


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 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden.

Archive of the Friends Newsletter The Fringed Gentian™
Vol. 8, # 1, January 1960, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 8, # 2, April 1960, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 8, # 3, July 1960, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 8, # 4, October 1960, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 9, # 1, January 1961, Martha Crone, Editor.

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

Friends Home Page

©2019 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. All 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. "" - 121720