Upland Garden in Summer

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

Winter 1970/1971

1971 shelter photo
The new Crone Shelter in June 1971 as featured in 'Around the Clock'. Landscaping is mostly completed.

Ken Avery begins his 13th year as Gardener.

In the Friend’s Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 19 No. 1 Jan 1971, Martha Crone wrote:

By the end of the year the gardens are fast in a sleep that will hold through the winter. Especially the deepening cold of January and the coldest bite or all - February's ice, sleet, thaws and freeze. Anyone who takes snow as a matter or course is ignoring one of the most fascinating and beautiful of the phenomena of weather. From the beauty or the individual flakes to the formation of a snowdrift. The great silence or a snowfall in a a heavy forest is broken only by the soft slipping of white burdens from weighted branches or the less frequent snap of a breaking bough. The miracle of falling snow transforming the world. The drifts so pure and exquisite.

Martha Crone also noted in the newsletter that Carl W. Rawson passed away on December 4, 1970. He was an early director, serving from 1954 until 1969 and was honorary director till his death.

In that issue Friends President Cay Faragher announced that “to our deep regret” Martha Crone would be resigning as Secretary/Treasurer and as editor. She added: "Those of us who know her so well can understand why Martha, after all these years of devotion to the "Garden" should want some care-free years for Friends, family and her north-woods home." This would also be Mrs. Faragher’s last year as president and she wrote: “And a Happy New Year to all you blessed people who have co-operated and helped me so much these past three years that I have been your President.”

A board meeting of the Friends was held on Feb. 18 at the home of Mrs. Faragher. It was suggested that Mildred Olson (Mrs. Carl H. Olson) succeed Mrs. Crone as treasurer. The board discussed changing the fiscal year end and that was finalized at the Annual Meeting (see spring section below).

Spring 1971

In her last issue as newsletter editor Martha Crone once again restated the purpose of the Wildflower Garden and the purpose of the Friends: (The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 19 No. 2 April 1971):

Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. was founded for those who are interested in promoting and perpetuating this one remaining area so close to a busy metropolis. This bit of wilderness provides a place to get away from the pressure of city living. The right to enjoy plants and animals in their native habitat.

We should exert every effort to preserve these natural conditions as a rest center for those who need them. Here can be seen in season practically all native flowers of Minnesota. Here it is a pleasure to follow the trails through the Reserve, some of them ancient Indian Trails. We are most grateful to those who have given of their time and skill to insure a successful garden. What a beautiful heritage to leave to the coming generation.

It is interesting that after all these years Martha still refers to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden as the ‘Native Plant Reserve’!

Her opening paragraph about spring included this:

The dark hours of early morning and evening are gone and April is emerging from the snow of winter and we welcome the impulse and freshness of spring. Yet frost lurks in the sudden chill of an April night, and early spring sun can do considerably more harm than the winters cold. The rains of spring again nourish all nature and what a delight to again see the sights of opening leaves and buds and hear the caroling of the returning birds. They have such an exotic appeal at this time.

Mrs. Faragher writes that Mildred Olson would not only assume the Secretary/Treasurer role but also become editor of The Fringed Gentian™ and Dr. Marian Grimes would succeed Mrs. Olson as chair of the Shelter hosts committee.

Below: A view of the path through the wetland in spring with plums and marsh marigold in bloom. Photo from a Kodachrome taken by Martha Crone on May 7, 1957.

Marsh in spring 1957

The Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden was held in the Garden, on Saturday May 15th, 1971, in the new shelter building. Kenneth Avery gave his report on the status of the Garden; Dr. Marian Grimes reported on the shelter volunteer (hosts) program. It was voted to change the Friends fiscal year from a calendar year to May 1 - April 30. [Note: The official fiscal year-end was always April 30th as filed with the Internal Revenue Service for non-profit purposes and was not officially changed to a calendar year until 2017. This resolution simply aligned what they were doing with what was official.]

Directors elected were: Martha Crone, Robert Dassett, C. L. DeLaittre, Dr. Marian Grimes, Mrs. Walter Menzel, Leonard Odell, Mrs. Mildred Olson, Leonard Ramberg, Alvin Witt, Harry Thorn, Wilber Tusler.

There was a long list of Honorary Directors but four were named Ex-officio members: Kenneth Avery, Dorothy Binder, Catherine Faragher and Walter Lehnert. This was the first time that the Garden Curator became an Ex-officio board member instead of a voting board member - a practice continued to the present day. Mrs. Binder, Mrs Crone and Mr. Ramberg were original founding directors of the Friends.

Officers elected at the board meeting following the annual meeting were: Robert Dassett Jr., President; Calvin C. DeLaittre, 1st Vice President; Alvin Witt, 2nd Vice-president; Mrs. Mildred Olson, Secretary-Treasurer.

Summer 1971

Ken Avery
Ken Avery as featured in the June 1971 "Around the Clock"

The summer issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 19 No. 3, July 1971) contained a report from Ken Avery on the Garden. He noted that attendance at the Garden was quite high, especially on Sundays. Spring this year had been very good in the Garden for the plants, violets in particular, but migrating birds were scarce for the second year in a row. The Park Board was now ready to go forward with the landscaping around the new shelter building.

Ken Avery, while in charge of the Garden, was to be a regular contributor to the newsletter for the next decade, bringing to the membership details of the Garden and the events that occurred there. It is somewhat interesting that for the 12 years that he was Gardener while Martha Crone was editor of the Newsletter, we hear little about him. Martha must have thought that the Newsletter was not for that purpose, as she herself rarely said anything about Garden 'goings-on' while she was curator.

Catherine Faragher wrote:

A mystery this summer has been a clump of Purple Bergamot [Monarda media] (vivid American Beauty color) not to be confused with the pale lavender Wild Bergamot or red Oswego Tea. Mr. Avery says he doesn't know where it came from. It just appeared

In June, 1971, AROUND THE-CLOCK, a monthly newsletter for Employees of the City of Minneapolis, featured a fine article entitled "City Boasts Unique Wild Flower Garden!" On the front page was a picture of the Martha Crone Shelter, and on the second page one of the Curator, Kenneth Avery. AROUND THE CLOCK is published by the Minneapolis Civil Service Commission, Editor Fred H. Kobler. Article in PDF form.

Autumn 1971

Tall Blue Bellflower
Tall Blue Bellflower (Campanulastrum americanum) (photo G. D. Bebeau)

In his report as Gardener in The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 19 No.4 Oct. 1971), Ken Avery noted that the flowers this summer have been quite abundant even though late Summer had little rain.

The tall blue Bellflower, which almost disappeared last year, made an excellent comeback and some other plants have done exceptionally well also. This year, for example, the Wild Poinsettia is blooming in greater numbers than I can remember its ever doing before; the Rattlesnake-root seems to be everywhere; and just today the Downy Gentian started blooming. In the bog, the Cardinal-flower seems to have exploded. They have been increasing steadily over the last few years but for the last two years, the bog seems to have belonged to the Cardinal-flower.

Crowds of people in the Spring concerned him:

I believe that we were over attended this Spring, and I have reason to believe that some of our potential patrons who would have appreciated the unique potential of the Garden did not come then because of the large crowds. I'm afraid that at times we unfortunately were overrun by people who were simply going somewhere for free entertainment.-- Popularity can be a problem!

Finally, some of you might be interested in knowing that the spring (located in the bog just behind the Garden) has dried up just as it did last year. It had done this before but only after prolonged drought periods. Last year it dried up after a short dry spell and this year it did so before the drought started. I'm afraid our spring is gone.

[Ed. Note - his comment about ‘located in the bog just behind the Garden’ is somewhat misleading because based on his notes in 1975 where he sums up his experiences with the springs in the area, he is referring to the main spring outside the west Garden fence and down the hill - the Great Medicine Spring. The area around the spring is boggy but the spring outlet was on solid ground.]

Great Medicine Spring
The Great Medicine Spring as it looked in 1939. Ken Avery refers to this spring in his text. (photo Walter Dahlberg)

The new president of the Friends, Robert Dassett Jr. wrote about his background with the Garden.

Dear Members:
It seems an appropriate time to surface, to greet you all as the new (since May) President of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden before the Garden becomes dormant again and the Shelter is closed up for the last time this season. And so, greetings from one who has known and loved this precious plot of ground since a spring day back in 1930 when he discovered it quite by accident while birding.

I'll switch to the first person now because the Garden has been so much a part of me these last forty years. Memories -- Miss Butler standing near the old shelter; my first Cardinal, April 1932; a walk down the east path with Dr. Crone [Martha Crone’s husband William] to see my first Barred Owl; drowsy August days talking with Martha Crone in the coolness of the old shelter; Mr. Whitney Eastman on a Memorial Day getting in an hour of birding between a morning and afternoon double-header at Nicollet Park; fighting a grass fire with Mr. Clinton Odell in the upper garden when it was still very new; and finally the rather feverish, hectic, but rewarding activity of the past several years when, under the leadership of the human dynamo, Cay Faragher, the new Martha Crone Shelter was planned, built and opened.

Fountain located on the patio area in front of the Martha Crone Visitor's Shelter in the Woodland Garden, given in memory of Bernice H. Witt and installed in 1971. Her husband, Alvin Witt was an officer of The Friends and chairman of the building fund for the new Martha Crone Visitors Shelter. He died in 1973. (photo G. D. Bebeau)

I went out to the Garden a few days ago. It has always had a special charm for me at this time of year with its Asters, Purple Coneflowers and Goldenrod. Why don't each of you come out to the Garden this fall to spend a quiet hour or so, and to inspect the new additions at the Shelter?

The beautiful new drinking fountain, given as a memorial to Mrs. Alvin Witt by Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, is now in place and operating. Work in front of the Shelter to repair the disturbance caused by construction is going forward. Our faithful hosts and hostesses are still on duty.

This is a beautiful time at the Garden, come and enjoy it.

As he stated, President Dassett was long acquainted with the Garden. On May 18, 1960, Robert wrote to Martha Crone: “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.”

In the same fall Newsletter, Cay Faragher wrote (part of the note was given in the Summer section above) on the origin of gold fish in Birch Pond and why the Lotus lilies are not there any longer:

Birch Pond
Birch Pond, just outside the Garden on Aug. 5, 1950. The Purple Loosestrife was finally eliminated in 2000. (photo from a Kodachrome taken by Martha Crone.)

The captivating photo of Lotus lilies which hangs in the Martha E. Crone Shelter raises the question of why this treasure disappeared from Birch Pond and refused to be re- established. They still flourish in Halsteads Bay at Lake Minnetonka as attested to by Mr. Alvin Witt who was taken to see them by Mrs. Arthur Erdall --with the party was Dr. Leon Snyder [Director of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum] who was equally enthusiastic. The conjecture is that the fishermen who invaded Birch Pond and who were using gold fish as bait in those days, lost some of their bait which grew to carp which destroyed the Lotus. We have tried, in the past, why not try to, once more, establish the Lotus in our bog pool where the Wild Calla flourishes so profusely.

[The story of how the lotus got into Birch Pond is explained in the 1930 history.]

Volunteer co-ordinator Dr. Marian Grimes provided a guest book for the Shelter. Some of the out-of-state visitors made these comments:
From Texas "How fortunate the people of Minneapolis are to have a place of this kind so easily and quickly accessible."
From Nebraska “How quiet and peaceful, and still only a few minutes drive from the heart of the city."
From New York "Your Wild Flower Garden says what Ecology, a much publicized word these days, is all about."

Photo top of page: The Upland Garden in mid-summer July 16, 1953. Photo 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. 19, # 1, January 1971, Martha Crone, Editor

Vol. 19, # 2, April 1971, Martha Crone, Editor

Vol. 19, # 3, July, 1971, Mildred Olson, Editor

Vol. 19, # 4, October, 1971, Mildred Olson, 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" - 122620