Upland Garden in July 1950

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

Winter 1962/63

Ken Avery begins his 5th year as Gardener.

The Junco, Photo G D Bebeau.

Temperatures in the first two months of 1963 were abnormally cold with the majority of the days below average. Jan. 23 recorded a record low for that date of -31F. Even then, there were consistent small snowfalls through mid-February. March brought more normal temperatures.

Former Garden Curator Martha Crone as editor of the Friends newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™ writes in the January 1963 issue (Vol. 11 No. 1) about the necessity of feeding certain birds, both feeder types and ground feeding types such as the Junco. She also recommends to start feeding Pheasants before too many perish in the winter snows - a comment that today makes us realize how much wildlife used to be in the close environs of the city. She quotes from Henry David Thoreau:

Even in winter we maintain a temperate cheer and a serene inward life, not destitute of warmth and melody. Only the cold evergreens wear aspects of summer now, and shelter winter birds.

She also included articles on the Sea Onion, an unusual and little used house plant; on plants that cause allergies; on unusual fruit; on winter house plants and on the woolly caterpillar.

Dorothy Binder
Dorothy Binder (left), Martha Crone (Rt) shown in a newspaper photo from 1959.

Dorothy Binder, past president of The Friends, contributed the text of her letter to the editor of the Minneapolis Tribune on the passing of columnist George Luxton, whose columns acquainted many persons with the Garden. Part of her text was:

The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden is one of the many groups which will sadly miss George Luxton. He was one of the best friends the Garden had from its inception. He came there often himself and whenever he wrote appreciatively of it in his column an influx of visitors followed. I doubt whether any single person has been more influential in bringing this unique garden to the attention of nature lovers, not only in the Twin Cities area but from many other states, as well as far away lands. When spring comes again and once more we are walking along the woodland paths of this charming area, many of us will be thinking of the man who was the friend of all gardens and this one in particular.

The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden held their annual meeting on March 12th at the Walker Art Center, 1710 Lyndale Ave. So., Minneapolis.

Elected Board members were: Kenneth Avery, Mrs. Carroll (Dorothy) Binder, Mrs. Donald Bridgman, Russell H. Bennett, Miss Marion Cross, Mrs. Elizabeth Carpenter, Martha Crone, Whitney Eastman, Walter Lehnert, Alice Martin, Leonard F. Ramberg, Carl Rawson, Mrs. Robert Strange and Mrs. Clarence Tolg and Alvin R. Witt. Alvin Witt would later be deeply involved with the construction of Martha Crone Shelter in 1968-1970.

20 new members joined the Friends during the past year. A $500 donation was voted on to go to the Park Board for Garden maintenance.

Officers elected at the Board meeting were:
Walter E. Lehnert, President
Mrs. Clarence Tolg, Vice-President
Mrs. Martha Crone, Secretary-Treasurer. Martha Crone would continue as editor of The Fringed Gentian™ and as membership secretary.

Spring 1963

Ken Avery
Gardener Ken Avery

Ken Avery opened the Garden on April 1st. His project for the season was to replace the low fencing along the paths, moving from wooden posts with twine between them to steel posts with plastic line. That would save effort of replacing posts every few years and the twine every year. (1) This was an interesting experiment because years later he would revert to posts and rope in some places, no fencing in most places. Steel he later realized was just not pastoral enough.

In the Friends Newsletter, (Vol. 11 No.2), Martha Crone wrote:

After having anxiously waited for Spring there is a tenderness at last in the blue of the sky, there is the fresh smell of moist woods soil warming in the sun. In the still leafless woods, the alders, hazel and birch hang out their slim catkins, releasing storms of golden pollen, even before bees, insects and butterflies are about.

She also wrote:

Whoever plants a tree and takes care of it is a public benefactor and deserves thanks from present and future generations.

She then provided a review of the Handbook of trees of the Northern States and Canada by Romeyn B. Hough.

She wrote words of caution about chemical weed control, particularly around the sensitive paper birches. In her “Bird Notes” she mentioned the wonderful songs of the Bobolink and then referred to the decimation of the Whooping Crane population. Wouldn’t she be interested in the work being done today in Wisconsin to restore the population! The success with the Trumpeter Swan restoration was noted.

A favorite topic of Martha’s was the establishment of wild gardens. She mentions some species that must be included but her main comment is that:

The wild garden to be truly successful, must look as if it just grew. It requires planning and a willingness to study the needs of various kinds of wildflowers.

A conducted tour of the Garden was held on May 11th, but the weather was cold and rainy and attendance was light. (2)

Weather: Temperatures were above average in late March and early April, but when May came, also came the rains. May was very wet, but after that rainfall was below normal for the summer.

Summer 1963

Bog Rosemary
Bog Rosemary, (Andromeda polifolia). Photo ©Joanne Kline, Wisconsin Flora

Ken Avery developed a policy of re-introducing species that had once grown in the Garden but, over time had disappeared. In addition, he added new native species to the Garden. In 1963 the following made his list (several were also planted in 1961) and four are shown here:and four are shown here:

Twin flower
Twin Flower (Linnaea borealis). Photo ©Kitty Kohout, Wisconsin Flora

In his annual report to the Park Board (1), he echoed Martha Crones thoughts of 25 years before [See Summer - 1938] when he wrote of the benefits of school groups visiting:

In the past year the Minneapolis Schools in particular, have made greater use of the area as a living museum of our native flora and fauna. I was asked to give tours to 27 grade school classes as well as 7 women’s clubs and many Scouts, Brownies, etc.

In the near future (1967) the number of groups coming would be so large that Ken would report overload with the note that:

110 groups visited the Garden with the greatest number being grade school, 3rd grade and up. The rest were Brownies, Bluebirds, Scouts, Garden Clubs, Kindergarten Classes, High School and College Classes. (Note #3)

In the summer issue of the Friends' newsletter, (Vol. 11 No 3) editor Martha Crone wrote

The lazy air is full of fragrance, outstanding is the sweet smell of corn pollen from fields and gardens and the honey smell of clover. It really takes from June to August for the earth to warm up, then plants mature quickly.

She discussed the scarcity of certain song birds due to the increased use of pesticides and weed poisons and with this writing she is abreast of and ahead of Rachel Carson’s works. But back in 1957 she had written:

Much has been said for and against mosquito spraying. It has been proven in the garden after several years of spraying, mosquitoes are kept under control without harm to birds, honey bees, yellow jackets, dragon-flies and various other insects. It is to be regretted that spraying doesn’t control gnats." (note #4)

We do not know what chemicals were used in the Garden during the earlier years. She wrote about the pesky Geometrid Moth that comes out of its underground cocoon in late summer. Another article concerned experimental plantings that had been done in the Garden (under her prior care). She wrote:

Plantings made experimentally in the Wild Flower Garden and elsewhere during past years have proven that plants native elsewhere will prosper here. To mention a few -

This will contradict the well established idea that these plants do not thrive in this area.

Martha had all of these in the Garden when she was curator. The Shortia and most of the Rhododendrons are no longer extant. She then provides a list of easily grown wildflowers for the home garden.

Weather: Temperatures were in a normal range during the summer. Rainfall was heavy in May, including one storm of over 3 inches of rain, but June and July were very dry. The year would end with precipitation below normal.

Trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens). Photo ©Aaron Carlson, Wisconsin Flora.
Twisted Stalk Lily
Rosy Twisted Stalk (Streptopus lanceolatus). Photo ©Robert W. Freckmann, Wisconsin Flora

Autumn 1963

Fern Grove in 2012
Above: A portion of the Fern Glen in June 2012. Photo: G D Bebeau

In the Friends' newsletter, (Vol. 11 No. 4) editor Martha Crone, remarked in The Loom of Autumn -

There is no need for melancholy at this season when the season comes to a close. Look about and find the new growth already advanced toward another year. The fronds of ferns well formed and tightly coiled. The buds on trees and shrubs, as well as basel [sic.] plants of many others waiting for the warm sun of springtime for them to grow again.

She also writes on conservation:

We received from the hands of nature a marvelous continent, overflowing with an abundance of wild life. But it is not ours to destroy if we choose. It is our duty to preserve it for the benefit of ourselves and also for those who come after us.

Friends president Walter Lehnert, appealed to members to let he or Martha Crone know about any native location about to be “worked” so that native plants could be salvaged. He wrote: “Only in sanctuaries such as Eloise Butler Wild Flower Garden and in bits of untillable land here and there, have they been able to survive.”

Martha also noted the progress of the Fern Glen and that it was reaching a stage of fine development. [Background: In 1955 the Friends received a gift of funds from the Minnetonka Garden Club and the Little Minnetonka Garden Flower Club that Martha used to create a fern glen in an undeveloped part of the Upland Garden. She began this project in 1956 by setting out 2,160 fern plants followed by 308 the next year and ending her part of the project in 1958 when the total reached 2,844 fern plants. Ken Avery would compete it in 1960.]

Appreciation was extended to the members of the Minnetonka Garden Club who provided funds for most of the fern plantings. To winter protect the fragile young ferns Ken Avery had the area heavily covered with oak leaves each fall since 1961. The leaves would serve as mulch in the coming years. Moth crystals were spread to discourage the mice. Today, the area has filled in with other plants and larger trees but still has a number of ferns.

Ken Avery and Ed Bruckelmeyer
Above: Ken Avery (left) & Ed Bruckelmyer (rt) ca. 1960s. Photo courtesy Muriel Avery.

Ken Avery reported that the number of Garden visitors during the year was estimated to be 110,000 - an increase of 10% over 1962.(1) He continued to see an increase in the use of the Garden by schools and youth organizations. A new situation was that in late fall the road from the parkway to the Garden parking lot was closed for the winter months. Locals soon found a new use for the hill leading to the parking lot as a safe, convenient hill for sledding. The area itself was a great place to observe nature. In later years he would report that the winter popularity of the area would result in some vandalism and overuse.

Ken's chief assistant during 1963 was Ed Bruckelmyer, who would work with Ken for number of years.

Weather: October and November were warmer than normal with very little precipitation. The first snow did not fall until December and then not much, but December turned much colder than normal so the snow stayed on the ground to protect the plants. Total precipitation for the year was about 23 inches - about 4 inches less than average.

The Friends ended the year with 190 paid members. A number of new members were recruited by Betty Bridgman who sent our over 400 letters explaining The Friends' purpose to groups and individuals in her area.(2) At June 30 of this year, the Friends had membership income of $1,388 for the past year and had spent $1,502, which includes the $500 sent to the Park Board.

(1). Annual Report of the Garden Curator to the Board of Park Commissioners dated March 23, 1964, to Superintendent Howard Moore.
(2). Friends of the Wild Flower Garden Secretary’s Report - 1963
(3). The Fringed Gentian™, Vol. 17 No. 3.
(4). Annual Report to the Board of Park Commissioners dated Feb. 8, 1958 to Superintendent Charles E. Doell.

Photo top of page: A view of the Upland Garden on July 30, 1950, from a Kodachrome by Martha Crone.

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. 11, # 1, January 1963, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 11, # 2, April 1963, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 11, # 3, July 1963, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 11, # 4, October 1963, Martha Crone, Editor.

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

Friends Home Page

©2019 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. Photos 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.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org" - 122120