Upland Garden in 1953

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

Winter 1961/62

Ken Avery begins his 4th year as Gardener. .

The old Garden Office
The old Garden "Office" in the depth of winter. March 9, 1953. Photo from a Kodachrome by Martha Crone.

Temperatures in the first three months of 1962 were abnormally cold with the majority of the days below average - in early March by as much as 40 degrees below average. Even then, there were consistent small snowfalls but after mid-February the snow machine in the sky really turned on. There were numerous snowfalls of five inches or more and in late March the snow depth was over 26 inches. This weather continued into mid-April and Ken Avery reported that it was the first spring he had to close the Garden because of the weather (1).

Former Curator Martha Crone is editor of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden's newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™. In the January 1962 issue (Vol. 10, No. 1), reflecting on the January moon - the Snow Moon - she writes

“January is a period of quiet and repose. Nature is only sleeping, since its work is done for the present, while we enjoy a cherry fire of logs during the long nights. February’s cold often sinks to a low level in this area staying there for long spells adding a fresh sparkle to the earth’s blanket of snow. Yet before long its winter into spring, especially if we think of the quotation by Coleridge" -

And Winter, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!

She also included articles on the Poinsettia, Herring Gulls, Amaryllis, turnips and reviewed two books - Edwin Way Teale’s “North with the Spring” (still available) and “Wild Flowers” by Homer D. House. As Martha was quite fond of mushrooms, her mushroom article debunked the notion that you can test for a poisonous mushroom by seeing if it will tarnish a silver spoon. Actually, she writes, it is the sulfur in mushrooms that tarnishes and some of the most deadly contain less sulfur than the edible ones.

The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden held their annual meeting on March 13th at the Walker Art Center, 1710 Lyndale Ave. So., Minneapolis.

Elected Board members were: Kenneth Avery, Mrs. Carroll Binder, Mrs. Bernard Bowron, Mrs. Donald (Betty) Bridgman, Russell H. Bennett, Earle Brown, Miss Marion Cross, Elizabeth Carpenter, Martha Crone, Whitney Eastman, Lloyd Hale, Walter Lehnert, Alice Martin, Leonard Odell, Leonard Ramberg, Carl Rawson, Mrs. Robert Strange and Mrs. Clarence (Edda) Tolg.

At the Board Meeting following - Officers elected were: Walter E. Lehnert, President Mrs. Clarence (Edda) Tolg, Vice-President Mrs. Martha Crone, Secretary-Treasurer.

A $500 donation was voted on to go to the Park Board for Garden maintenance.

Spring 1962

Marsh path in the spring
The path leading into the bog in the Woodland Garden on May 7, 1957, photo from a Kodachrome by Martha Crone.

Ken Avery noted in his annual report (1) that on Wednesday April 11th for his first time, he had to close the Garden due to weather. A blizzard made the garden road impassable, but he opened the next day and by the weekend things were more normal. Due to the heavy snows of late winter and the cold of early spring he noted in his year-end report to the Board of Park Commissioners that:

“The late snows of last spring slowed the bloom of the very earliest flowers a few days but by late April they were opening from four days to a week early and continued to do so throughout the season. This is quite unusual as the late spring and summer flowers usually bloom at close to the same day each year regardless of the early spring weather.”

May was quite wet and the rest of summer was more normal. A May exception was May 12th when The Friends of The Wild Flower Garden had a tour of the Garden for members and friends. Although the early flowers were past, the Trilliums, Marsh Marigolds, blue bells, Foam flowers, Jacob’s Ladder, Spring Beauty, Blue Phlox, Columbine, and Ostrich ferns already five feet high were all very good. Martha Crone reported that

"The tour was well attended, many coming from great distances. The weather was ideal and many flowers were in bloom. such a tour greatly serves to acquaint the members and friends with the value of the Garden." (2)

In the Friends Newsletter, (Vol. 10 No. 2), editor Martha Crone wrote

“Once again the sunshine of spring days, the singing of birds, the sweet aroma of the woods and the joy of blossoms. There is jubilation in the springtime when fleecy white clouds sail across the blue sky.”

She also noted it was the time of bird migration; she discussed Oleander (Nerium oleander), a plant you could grow in pots and tubs; the June Beetle, Cherimoya (Annona cherimola), a delicious fruit; the effect of picture windows on birds; how to make a colorful spring flower display and spring mushrooms, especially the morel.

Summer 1962

Artic Blackberry
Arctic Blackberry (Rubus arcticus) Photo ©Mary Clay Stensvold, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

In the Garden, Gardener Ken Avery developed a policy of re-introducing species that had once grown in the Garden but over time, had disappeared. (1) In addition he added new native species to the Garden. In 1962 the following made his list but none are extant.

In the Friends' newsletter, (Vol. 10 No. 3), editor Martha Crone wrote:

“August has a look all its own, field and meadows are turning from green to yellow. Meadows waysides are aglow with golden-rods mingling with the blue and purple of asters. Birds songs are no longer heard to any extent, yet the air is full of insect music, outstanding of which is the whirring crescendo of the big cicada, as well as the chirps of crickets, katydids and grasshoppers.”

She discussed the scarcity of Bluebirds and the destruction of their nests, but noted the movement to erect boxes for them in the proper habitat. An endeavor that would expand greatly in future decades. She also wrote about the Hermit Thrush, Kalanchoe carnea, for indoor planting, Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), the skies of August, and following the flowers north with the spring.

Autumn 1962

Spicy Wintergreen
Spicy Wintergreen or Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens).©Nelson DeBarros@ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

In the Friends' newsletter, (Vol. 10. No. 4), editor Martha Crone, remarked on Autumn hues -

“Beyond a doubt October is the finest month of the year. The direct and blazing rays of the summer sun now slant only warmly upon the earth, the cool nights are refreshing and have put an end to insects. The temperature promotes steadiness of weather, when lovely golden days and clear nights are likely to follow on another, and already there is a hint of the change to take place.”

She also writes about the Minnesota State Bird, the Common Loon; about the Monarch Butterfly and its migration and the different generations of monarch that migrate north vs migrate south (this before all the migration details were generally well published). She writes of the Christmas Cactus (Zygocatus truncatus), the Autumn equinox, poisonous mushrooms, and winter birds.

Friends president Walter Lehnert, extended a welcome to all new members of the Friends and encouraged all to visit the Garden before it closed for the season. Friends' secretary Martha Crone, wrote to the Superintendent of Parks, Mr. Howard Moore, that the water supply in the Garden needed to be extended to the far reaches. (2)

Gardener Ken Avery reported that while the number of Garden visitors was down during the wet spring, the following summer days made up and the 100,000 visitor mark of the previous year was made. The fall months were dry with little snow in November and December (only one 5.5 inch snowfall in November). The Garden water supply was turned off when the first frost was predicted so the plants could not be given extra water. Ken wrote: (1)

“This, added to the sparse snow cover which we have as this date [Jan. 28, 1963] may spell disaster for many of our biennials. We covered them of course, but his is really no substitute for the protection given by a good blanket of snow.”

He noted that the Garden had added a 36 inch rotary mower and had a trailer made for it. Ken would use this to cut parts of the upland Garden. [Mowers have long-since vanished from the Garden, but before the use of fire to control aggressive prairie shrubs, they were mowed.] Lastly, he noted that he expected to keep the same assistants as in the past year and since “their proficiency increases each year, I am looking forward to an excellent season in 1963.” (1) His chief assistant was Ed Bruckelmeyer, who would work with Ken for number of years yet. The other assistant was Sam Baker. [Photo below: Ken Avery, left; Ed Bruckelmeyer, right. Photo courtesy Muriel Avery]

Membership in the Friends was reported to be 166 , with 20 new members having been added during the past year. (2)

Avery and Bruckelmeyer

(1). Annual Report of the Garden Curator to the Board of Park Commissioners.
(2). Friends of the Wild Flower Garden Secretary’s Report - 1962

Photo top of page: A view of the Upland Garden on July 16, 1953, from a Kodachrome by Martha Crone.

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

Year chart - all years
Garden History Archive
Friends History Archive

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


Ken Avery's Annual Report to the Board of Park Commissioners, dated Jan. 28, 1963, to Superintendent Howard Moore.

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.

Meeting Minutes and correspondence of The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden.

Archive of the Friends Newsletter The Fringed Gentian™
Vol. 10, # 1, January 1962, Martha Crone, Editor.
Vol. 10, # 2, April 1962, Martha Crone, Editor.
Vol. 10, # 3, July 1962, Martha Crone, Editor.
Vol. 10, # 4, October 1962, Martha Crone, Editor.

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.

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

Friends Home Page

©2017 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. All photos are the property of The Friends unless otherwise credited. 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. "http://www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org" - 011317