Foam Flower Path

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

Winter 1964/65

Ken Avery begins his 7th year as Gardener.

Wirth Park Map
The 1964 expanded area of control for the Garden is outlined in gray.

In 1964 the Park Board assigned the area surrounding the Garden to the care of the Garden Curator (1). This new area went to Glenwood Ave on the north, Glenwood Drive (now Theodore Wirth Parkway) on the west and east to the picnic grounds. This area quadrupled the space for the Gardener to take care of. In the Friends’ Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™, (Vol. 13 No. 1 Jan. 1965) editor Martha Crone wrote:

“The joy of acquisition of land adjoining the garden is the realization of a dream of many years. The garden has existed for many years and is prospering and with combined efforts can be further developed. The time to preserve this bit of remaining wilderness is now or it would be gone forever. If we fail to secure these natural features and suffer them to be destroyed, no power on earth can restore them. Conservation cannot take a holiday. It is too vital an issue. . . . We have every reason to be proud of this little section set aside to show in years to come what our native area looked like. It is only fitting that we should increase our efforts toward bigger and better accomplishments.”

What is not said in the written words of Martha Crone and Ken Avery is that a major part of this newly added area especially the part “east to the picnic grounds" is that this was part of the Garden in Eloise Butler’s time and was abandoned by Martha Crone and Clinton Odell in the middle 1940’s. The area contained Eloise Butler’s Mallard Pool and was the prime place where orchids were established. Details of the pool in this article.

In another article in that issue she wrote these prophetic words about bees, flies, and moths:

“When man took to poisoning insects by spraying, a war of utter extermination was started, killing many useful insects as well as many birds. If this continues it will not be long before we have a birdless and insect-less world.”

She also noted that if you want an attractive plant that is not attractive to rabbits and deer, plant Monkshood. While staying at her cabin in northern Minnesota she reported an experience with Snow Buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis) - while walking they would run about 10 feet ahead of her on the road, stop and look back, then repeat the procedure which they never seemed to tire of.

Ken Avery
Gardener Ken Avery

The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden held their annual meeting at the the Minneapolis Public Library on March 8th at 7:30 PM.

The Board of Directors elected were: Kenneth Avery, Russell H. Bennett, Marion Cross, Elizabeth Carpenter, Mrs. Martha Crone, Whitney Eastman, Lloyd Hall, Mrs. George (Jessie) Ludcke Sr., Walter E. Lehnert, Alice Martin, Leonard Odell, Elizabeth Reed, Leonard F. Ramberg, Carl W. Rawson, Mrs. Robert Strange, Mrs. Clarence (Ebba) Tolg and Alvin Witt.

Founding member Dorothy Binder left the board and became an honorary director.

Sixteen new members were reported for the past year bringing membership to 185 after dropouts. $500 was appropriated to the Park Board to use for Garden purposes. There was a discussion as to what the title of the person in charge of the Garden should be called as the Park Board no longer wished the title of “curator” be used. Instead the Park Board assigned Ken Avery the title of “Gardener II” (2). This was an issue Ken resurrected when he retired in 1986. With this change in position name, 1965 was the last year for any "Reports to the Park Board of Commissioners" by the Garden Curator. Perhaps Gardener's were not to do that.

At the board meeting following the annual meeting, officers elected were: Mrs. Robert Strange, President; Mrs. Clarence Tolg, Vice-President; Mrs. Martha Crone, Secretary-Treasurer. Martha Crone would continue as Membership Chair and Newsletter editor.

The winter of 1964/1965 was a cold one - very cold. March 1965 was the coldest since 1899. And then there was the snow - over 70 inches during the Winter - well above the average of 43 inches.

Spring 1965

Prairie Burn Prairie Burn
Ken Avery began the spring burning of the prairie areas in 1965. These photos from prairie burns in the late 1990s.

A Garden tour scheduled for May 15th, was held in spite of rain and cold weather and a few hardy souls took part. Spring 1965 was very rainy and the melting of the large winter snowpack led to flood levels in central Minnesota that still stand today.

The $500 that the Friends donated to the Park Board on March 8, was used for the purchase of a plant and insect sprayer - a back-pack type mist blower which Ken Avery needed and he noted “expect to give it a good deal of use.” (1)

Martha Crone, as editor of the Friends’ newsletter, wrote in the spring issue (Vol. 13 No. 2):

“The atmosphere of promise is the most interesting time of the year. The hopes of a new garden mount with the warming sun and soon a lavish profusion of bloom.”

She also wrote articles about Herb and Spices, Truffles, the Douglas Fir, adding a Wildflower to your Garden, interesting house plants, how to handle garden slugs and a return of the spring birds.

This season Ken instituted a new cultural practice. He did his first spring burn of the prairie area. In previous years the buildup of grasses and woody plants was laboriously cut with a mower. Periodic burns of prairie areas remove thatch buildup, unwanted woody plants and provide the conditions for certain seeds to sprout and certain perennial plants to vigorously rejuvenate. Periodic burns continue to the present day.

Summer 1965

Twinflower (Linnaea borealis). Photo ©Kitty Kohout. Wisconsin Flora.

In the Friends’ newsletter, (Vol. 13 No. 3 July), editor Martha Crone wrote:

“After the glorious period of spring bloom is past summer progresses through the displays of Blazing Stars, Lobelias, both red and blue, Physostegia, Butterfly-weed, Asters, Goldenrods, Coneflowers, Bergamot, Lupine, Phlox and countless others. When the green of summer fades, beauty is only altered but never lost. Each season has its own joys.”

She also wrote about the Minnesota State Bird - the Loon, Indian Pipe, late summer flowers, the humpbacked black fly, plants for summer homes, and raised a voice for conservation with this article:

“Untouched woodlands should be saved while it is still possible. These will stand as museum pieces to show people what the original forest was like. As developments take place many native areas are being destroyed. Also many roadsides have a growth of desirable plants that should be rescued. It would be greatly appreciated if we were notified of such areas, so that these plants could be salvaged and moved to the Wild Flower Garden.”

Among the plants that Ken added in the Garden were three that had disappeared during past years: Twinflower, Linnaea borealis; Juneberry, Amelanchier (uncertain species); and the Male Fern, Dryopteris filix-mas. In addition he planted six others where the Garden stock was in short supply: Sweetflag, Acorus calamus; Bluebeads (or Yellow Clintonia) Clintonia borealis; Obedient Plant, Physostegia virginiana; Blue Flag, Iris versicolor; Walking Fern, Camptosorus rhizophyllus; and Christmas Fern, Polystichum acrostichoides.

Summer 1965 was wet but with average temperatures. The ferns were magnificent.

Autumn 1965

Showy Orchis
Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis) donated by Mrs. Philip Von Blon. Photo ©Jeff Hapeman, Wisconsin Flora

In the Friends’ newsletter, (Vol. 13 No. 4) Martha Crone wrote:

“A stroll through the Wild Flower Garden is an inspiration at almost any time of the year. Over the hill and down through the forest and marsh interesting flowers can be found. Nature gives to every season some beauty of its own.

The flowers of September - gone so quickly - for this month is predominately the month in which the results of the summer flowers appear in the form of fruit. The continuous bloom from April to October is ended.”

She also wrote articles about the Trumpeter Swan, the Jerusalem Artichoke, autumn fruits, egrets and herons, winter mulch and White Cedar. There was also a thank-you to those who contributed native plants to the Garden during the year. To Mrs. S. Solhaug for Showy and Yellow Lady’s-slippers [Cypripedium reginae Walter and Cypripedium parviflorum Salisb var. pubescens] to Mrs. Philip Von Blon for Showy Orchis [Galearis spectabilis - formerly Orchis spectabilis] and to a large plant assortment from Everett Baker and from Alvin Witt. All of these species had been in the Garden and planted many times before.

Ken Avery requested the Park Board to poison the rough fish living in Birch Pond (just outside the Garden). Water that had once been crystal clear was now always muddy from the introduction of goldfish and carp.

The 3 small pools at the center of the wetland were now only 6 inches deep from silting so Ken and Ed Brucklemyer dug them out again, this time to a depth of two feet. (1) It was only 4 years ago in 1961 that the same thing had to be done. These were the pools created by Martha Crone in 1946/47.

Birch Pond
Birch Pond as it looked on August 5, 1950 before being degraded by carp and goldfish that people had released there, but surrounded by invasive Purple Loosestrife. Photo from a Kodachrome by Martha Crone

He also repeated a request made the prior year to treat two developing problems near the Garden - the parking lot at the bottom of the entry hill to the Garden (the purpose of which was to serve the Great Medicine Spring) and motorcycles. Ken explains it best:

The lot “will only hold two or three cars but is rather secluded and a high percentage of those using it seem to be “undesirables”--we remove more beer cans, wine bottles, etc. from this area then we do from our larger parking lot.” He then requested that the area be closed to parking. [Note: This problem would not go away until the lot was actually closed in the mid-2000s]. (1964 Annual Report)

“The second and more urgent problem is that of motorcycles on the foot paths in the area. I am sure that on some of the nicer Sundays last spring as many as 50 would race through the park. They would go through in packs of a dozen or more scaring any living thing in their proximity and driving all peace and quiet out before them. I feel that if something isn’t done soon they will make the park of little use to anyone who isn’t on a motorcycle.” He offered some suggestions such as placing posts with cables between to prevent them from leaving the paved roads. (1964 Annual Report)
This year he added “these pests are getting worse each year and will destroy the area if something isn’t done soon.” (2)

In the same report Ken noted that:

“2,000 people in 95 organized groups visited the Garden on conducted tours. The greater of this, 1,700 (71 groups), were grade school classes but they also included high school, adult, and non-academic children’s groups as well.”

September 1965 was the coldest since 1868. Then the remainder of the fall was warmer than average and became dry with little precipitation.

(1). Annual Report of the Garden Curator to the Board of Park Commissioners dated March 4, 1966, to Superintendent Howard Moore.
(2). Minutes of the Friends Board of Directors.

Photo top of page: The marsh path with Foam Flower, on June 3, 1954; photo 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.

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

Friends of the Wild Flower Garden Secretary’s Report - 1965

Archive of the Friends Newsletter The Fringed Gentian™

Vol. 13, # 1, January 1965, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 13, # 2, April 1965, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 13, # 3, July 1965, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 13, # 4, October 1965, 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

©2019 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. 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. "" - 022721