Upland Garden in October

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

Winter 1965/1966

Ken Avery
Ken Avery

Ken Avery begins his eighth year as Garden Curator/Gardener.

At this time in his tenure, Ken made the observation that with the opening of the University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum, the interest in the Garden’s testing of the hardiness of exotic plants, which he, Martha Crone and Eloise Butler had done, was not warranted. Concentration should be on reintroducing native plants that had once grown in the area. (1) It should not have been a surprise that in the Friend’s Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™ Vol 14 No.1 Jan 1966, Martha Crone would write something a little contrary to that as Ken was eliminating part of her philosophy about which plants should be in the Garden. She wrote:

“January seems a far cry from any living thing outdoors, but as January passes, the lovely sequence of the year of bud and blossom is before us.”

“The Wild Flower Garden is not an Arboretum, but a place to help preserve our native flower and where many of our wild plants can be grown in harmony with each other. The object is to bring together all the native plants hardy in this latitude, also to experiment with plants introduced from other areas.

It has been evident for some time that many of our native plants are in danger of disappearing. A splendid opportunity is here presented for the conservation of these flowers. The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden are helping greatly to promote for posterity this area of unique interest.”

She also writes of house plants that provide “great companionship during the winter when all out-of-doors is dormant.”

The winter of 1965/1966 was at first a continuation of the fall weather of 1965 - little precipitation until January but still no significant snowfalls until March. Total snowfall for the period was less than average.

In the Minneapolis Tribune columnist Abe Altrowitz wrote on March 15 that Ken Avery told him it would be an early spring because purple finches and cedar waxwings were already passing through the Garden the week before March 1 on their way north. He also writes about Ken's bird feeding methods in the Garden and particularly about peanut butter:

There is always a jar of peanut butter suspended from a sort of trapeze device in front of the wildflower garden office. Avery says the birds consume about a jar of it in a week."

He then gave a little history of the Garden, pausing to mention that the predicted "ice-out" date on his favorite fishing lake in the city was April 10, the date that Eloise Butler died in 1933. Abe wrote a wonderful story about his experience with Miss Butler, who he likened to Queen Victoria, in an earlier 1964 column. (1966 column here - pdf)

Spring 1966

Martha Crone
Martha Crone in 1953, Friends secretary, membership chair and editor of the newsletter. Former Garden Curator 1933-1958.

Martha Crone wrote in the spring issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 14 No 2 April 1966):

“How anxiously we wait for spring and then it rushes past so swiftly. April is truly the dawn of the year. The lovely budding time is soon over, that atmosphere of promise; one must be alert to enjoy it fully.”

“A wild flower garden can be small enough to be very personal. . .where one can have friendliness, quiet and contentment. The companionship of plants is most soothing. Even a small garden tends to arouse our interest in birds, wild flowers, and ferns, and encourages the preservation of our native plants for those to enjoy of future generations.”

“If you seek the ultimate in wildflower beauty, then take a walk through the Wild Flower Garden. Whether you want to count as many different species as possible, or whether you seek the thrill of enjoying the effect of masses of blossoms together, you will find both. This is a heritage we must guard and preserve for future generations.”

She also noted the scarcity of birds at feeders during the past winter.

Grace Bliss Dayton
Grace Bliss Dayton with husband George shown here at a charity function on Feb. 8, 1936. Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.

One of the Friends staunch supporters who truly believed in wild flower gardens, Grace Bliss Dayton, passed away on April 1st. Martha wrote “Her interest and enthusiasm in furthering the garden for so many years will be greatly missed.”

The Annual Meeting of The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden was, for the first time, held in the Garden, on Saturday May 21st, 1966. This move to the Garden was at the request of incoming President Kenneth Avery. Martha Crone was obviously thrilled with the location as she wrote in the Summer issue of The Fringed Gentian™:

“The setting was a never-to-be-forgotten scene, with trilliums, mertensia, and numerous spring flowers blooming all around the group gathered outside the little office. Birds coming to the feeder overhead and the singing of the lovely Rose-breasted Grosbeak added to the enjoyment.”

Directors elected were: Russell Bennett, Kenneth Avery, Elizabeth Carpenter, Miss Marion Cross, Martha Crone, Whitney Eastman, Mrs. George (Jessie) Ludcke Sr., Walter Lehnert, Alice Martin, Leonard Odell, Elizabeth Reed, Leonard Ramberg, Carl Rawson, Mary Simmons, Hazel Solhaug, Mrs. Clarence (Ebba) Tolg, and Alvin Witt.

Officers elected were: Kenneth Avery, President; Alvin Witt, Vice-president; Martha Crone, Secretary-Treasurer.

A garden tour was then conducted. A $500 donation was approved to the Park Board for Garden maintenance. There was discussion about the need for a tool shed and many plants were received from Hazel Solhaug who rescued them from highway construction.

Spring weather began with an 11 inch snowfall in early March, but then no significant rains until July and August. Temperatures were fairly average.

Summer 1966

graphicRonald Hovda leading a class through the Garden. Minneapolis Tribune photo.

Martha Crone wrote in the summer issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 14 No.3 July 1966):

May and June days have swiftly and gently drifted away. The early spring flowers have passed, also a great deal of our anticipation. But summer has always something new in store.”

A report of the Annual Meeting of the Friends was then given and in her "Bird notes" column see wrote:

“In comparison with our brilliantly hued birds, our sparrows are meek and lowly birds. Nature has denied them the colorful tints of Orioles, Indigo Buntings, Cardinals and many others, but she has given them sweet and musical voices.”

On July 22 Ben Kern wrote in the Minneapolis Tribune that the Wildflower Garden was bustling but if you could buttonhole Ken Avery you could get a short tour and clear up plant names you were unsure of.

In recent years Ken had been writing about the number of groups that visited, a number of which he had to lead. Kern's article had a photo of a summer school conservation class of 35 from Coon Rapids lead by teacher Ronald Hovda that were moving through the Garden ahead of him.

Summer weather was pretty average in temperature with below average rainfall

Autumn 1966

Blue Beads
Clintonia or Blue Beads, Clintonia borealis. Photo ©Aaron Carlson, Wisconsin Flora.

Martha Crone wrote in the fall issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 14 No. 4 October 1966):

“The color of September lingers on into October. The transition between these two months seems less marked than any other two months. Yet October frost can end all overnight. October has its compensations, the gorgeous Autumnal color of maple, sumac, and oak. It certainly cannot be called the brown October with all its unsurpassed beauty. The waning daylight heralds the coming of Autumn and there is a haze in the horizon. Gardens are getting darker and cooler each day. By November the splendors of fall have passed, yet there is much to be enjoyed.”

She reports on the difficulty and perseverance of establishing certain plants and that Clintonia, aka Blue Beads (Clintonia borealis) has finally established after many failures and is now spreading nicely. The Trailing Arbutus which was established some years ago but destroyed by mice was now being re-established.

Martha wrote of three orchids which send up a single leaf which persists all winter and then dies as the plant flowers in spring. Both she and Eloise Butler many times planted Adam and Eve (Aplectrum hyemale) and Fairyslipper Orchid (Calypso bulbosa) and in 1966 a new one was tried in the Garden - Crane-fly Orchid (Tipularia unifolia [now classed as T. discolor]. None of these survive today.

Odell Family
Amy Odell, center, with husband Clinton on the right and daughter Moana on the left - photo taken at 50th wedding anniversary. Photo - The Friends.

To sum up the year Martha reported that 22 new members were added (2). In The Fringed Gentian™ she noted that 9 were from other states - 3 from the east coast.

Amy Odell passed away on Dec. 7th. She was the spouse of the late founder of The Friends, Clinton Odell.

Fall weather, except for one almost 2 inch rain, was light on precipitation with no significant temperature swings. The year would end with below average precipitation of about 24 inches.


(1) Reflections by Ken in The Fringed Gentian™ Winter 1980 Vol. 28 #1

(2) Friends Annual Secretary’s Report for 1966

Photo top of page: Upland Garden, Oct. 24, 1955, from a Kodachrome taken 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


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

Archive of the Friends Newsletter The Fringed Gentian™

Vol. 14, # 1, January 1966, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 14, # 2, April 1966, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 14, # 3, July 1966, Martha Crone, Editor.

Vol. 14, # 4, October 1966, 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. "https://www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org" - 122420