Marsh in Spring 1952

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

Winter 1971/1972

Ken Avery begins his 14th year as Gardener.

Note: All issues of the Friend’s Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™, were numbered out of sequence this year. The correct volume numbers are used in the text. The "as printed" numbers are shown at the bottom of this page.

Book cover - Common Wildflowers
The Cover of Gerald Ownbey's new book.

In the Newsletter (Vol. 20 No. 1 Jan 1972) Gardener Ken Avery, writing in late 1971, reported that early winter weather was too mild for the ground to freeze before the snows came and he could not get some of the late fall work done. Last year he reported that the spring outside the Garden [The Great Medicine Spring] had dried up and now he adds new information: [dates added]

If you remember last year [1970], the spring dried up in midsummer and then started to flow again in mid-November. This year [1971] it also dried up in midsummer and this fall I kept a faithful vigil to see when it would run again. It was not yet running when we left the Garden on December 1. At that time, however, I found by pushing a stick into the pipe that the water was less than two inches from the top. On December 5, my wife and I stopped at the Park to fill the bird feeders there and found a trickle of water coming from the pipe at the spring. By Christmas Day the trickle had increased to a significant little stream. It seems obvious that the area's water table has become progressively lower for the last decade or two, but it has remained quite constant for the last year or two so it may have reached, or at least be approaching, its lowest point.

This issue also had a review of Gerald Ownbey’s new book “Common Wildflowers of Minnesota” published in 1971. This was at the time a tremendously good reference book and still valuable 40 years later, although some of the scientific names have changed.

The Friends held a Board meeting on March 9th at the home of Secretary Mildred Olson. Cash on hand was $3,295. Ken Avery expressed the need for a Garden tractor with mower attachment and specified the Gravely tractor which the board voted to obtain for him. Cost about $800. A members directory was being prepared for distribution by Secretary Mildred Olson.

Spring 1972

In The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 20 No. 2 April 1972) Friends President Robert Dassett wrote that the parking lot for the Garden was to be re-designed and re-surfaced this summer. It was noted that the Fringed Gentian (Gentiana crinita), the namesake of the newsletter, was no longer growing in the Garden.

Fringed Gentian
Fringed Gentian (Gentiana crinita) in the Garden. Photo from a Kodachrome taken by Martha Crone on Sept. 24, 1950.

The Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden was held in the Garden, on Saturday May 13th, 1972, in the new shelter building, 20 people attending. Kenneth Avery gave his report of the status of the Garden. The Friends assets totaled $2,552. Membership totaled 231. Dr. Marian Grimes reported on the shelter volunteer (hosts) program which had 25 volunteers at that date. Two of the new volunteers on her list, were Mr. & Mrs. O. Lynn Deweese, both would later become editors of the newsletter and Mr. Deweese would later become President of the Friends in 1982. In 1973 they became members.

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.

The list of Ex-officio members: Kenneth Avery, Dorothy Binder, Catherine Faragher and Walter Lehnert, same as the previous year. Mrs. Binder, Mrs. Crone and Mr. Ramberg were original founding directors of the Friends. In addition there was a list of Honorary Board Members carried over from the previous year.

This year Betty Bridgman was a member of the nominating committee. She would later become The Fringed Gentian™ editor in 1982.

A request was to be made to the Park Board to install a hand railing along the path from the parking lot to the Garden gate.

Ken Avery reported that this spring season had gone faster than any he could remember. April was cold and dark and then a hot spell to rush all the early flower through blooming. He also noted:

Nature has its excesses every year and at this time the most obvious excess is its production of chipmunks. We've got them virtually coming out of the woodwork and there's a lot of wood around here!

Mr. Gordon Morrison, Coordinator of Environmental Education with the Park Board was present and made this statement on why the Garden is so important:

Yellow Lady's-slippers
A clump of Yellow Lady's-slippers in the Garden (Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin) Photo from a Kodachrome taken by Martha Crone on June 6, 1957.

Here in the Eloise Butler Wildflower and Bird Sanctuary and elsewhere in the Minneapolis parks' natural areas is one of the most outstanding collections of native wildflowers in the nation and possibly in the world. This is an asset in which Minneapolis can justly take great pride. Your actions and continued commitment is a key to its survival.

Ultimately, the survival of our own species is somehow linked to the survival of all others -- both beautiful and unpleasant alike. We can designate sites and thus like a besieged group of partisans entrench ourselves against all onslaughts from the bull dozers, dam builders, asphalt machines, trail bikes, etc. But, finally, we will simply have built walls to further separate our precious remnants of nature from the very ones who threaten them. One by one, we will grow old and die, leaving no one behind to care, to man the walls.

Our great commitment must be to instill in the attitudes of children the love and respect for nature that we have. It is they who will mature to take up the reins of industry, government, public agencies, etc. It is they who will decide the final disposition of our precious natural resources. If we have failed to develop in them a sensitivity and concern on behalf of wildflowers, birds, trees -- our environment -- then we can be assured that as we grow old and our final days approach, so too, will the last days of most that is beautiful in nature approach its final days. No manner of walls can be built to outlive us, no Maginot Lines will forever be impregnable against the forces that will destroy. But if we have reached, today, the men and women who will plan and build tomorrow, then and only then can it be assured that we have preserved and passed on the legacy of natural beauty we here enjoy.

Thus, my hope is to see hundreds, even thousands, of kids out -- out here, out along the creeks and rivers, in the woods, on the lakes, in the Prairie Garden, along the Woodland Garden trails, learning to love, learning to see, learning to have lasting commitment for the preservation of parks, open space, and special resources such as Eloise Butler Wildflower and Bird Sanctuary.

Finally then, if you will forgive me, all but a few of the heads gathered here are grey. I fear, my friends, that this may well be symbolic of what must be our commitment to reach out and bring in youth, for only thus may we assure a future with the assets we love most -- birds and wildflowers.”

[Note: The use of the name “Eloise Butler Wildflower and Bird Sanctuary” used by Morrison is an instance of using the name that was adopted by the Park Board in 1969. Here ‘wild flower’ has been condensed to one word. Many variations of the name were used between 1969 and 1986 when the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board officially changed to the current name “Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. Details here.]

At the Board meeting following the annual meeting, officers elected were: Robert Dassett Jr., President; Calvin C. DeLaittre, 1st Vice President; Alvin Witt, 2nd Vice-president; Mrs. Mildred Olson, Secretary-Treasurer. The secretary also handled membership and at this time, Mrs. Olson was also newsletter editor - the same job Martha Crone had held for years.

In May Mildred Olson placed copies of The Fringed Gentian™ and membership cards in the Shelter for visitors to pick up. This was the first occurrence and the practice of placing that material continues to the present day.

Summer 1972

Shelter Display Cases
One of the display cases in the Shelter for which additional lighting was requested in 1972, but not provided until 1974.

The summer issue of The Fringed Gentian (Vol. 20 No. 3 July 1972) contained the report from Ken Avery on the Garden that he had presented at the Annual Meeting in May. Mr. Morrison’s talk was also reproduced. The membership directory prepared by Mildred Olson was mailed with the July newsletter.

The Friends held a Board meeting on June 29 at the Crone Shelter in the Garden. For some months the Board had been considering a short history of the Garden to be placed in the Shelter. Mrs. Beim (Moana Odell) was preparing a biography of her father Clinton Odell; Mr. Dassett and Mr. Avery were preparing an updated history of the Garden. Mr. Tusler had provided a book for the presentation of the histories.

A fan was needed for the Heat-o-later fireplace insert, and lights were needed for display cases in the Shelter. Ken Avery felt that the Park Board had no budget for such and the Friends should try to provide it. Board member Harry Thorn had made a number of glass mounted slides of the Garden and presented these to be used in the Shelter. Mr. Thorn was an experienced photographer. The display lights were finally added in 1974.

Two women, Elizabeth George and Cathy Jo Peterson, were given time at the meeting to request funding for an educational slide and tape show about the Garden that could be presented to children in grade and junior high schools. They had made similar productions for other topics. They were given permission to obtain supplies needed for which the Friends would pay.

Autumn 1972

Cardinal Flower in the wetland
A stand of Cardinal Flower and Boneset in the marsh on Aug. 4, 1948. Photo from a Kodachrome taken by Martha Crone.

In the fall issue of The Fringed Gentian™, (Vol. 20 No. 4 October 1972) Gardener Ken Avery noted the following about the Garden:

The largest tree in the Garden has died-- I'm sure that many of you will remember the huge elm by the park bench just beyond the Hepaticas. Five or six years ago one branch on the tree appeared to be dying and upon examination we found evidence that it had been hit by lightning. It had recovered from that injury, however, and has looked quite healthy for the past few years until this summer when the leaves started drying up and soon the leaves from the entire tree had fallen.

Inner Guard
Photo from The Bellman

I suspected Dutch Elm Disease and called in the men who are assigned to check for the disease. The symptoms were not those typical of that disease -- thankfully, so I am afraid our giant died of unknown causes. When I have it removed I am going to attempt to get a slice of the trunk prepared for exhibition in the Martha Crone Shelter. Since it would be one of our own trees it would be more meaningful, I believe, than the one now displayed.

[NOTE:The elm Ken Avery refers to, based on his saying it was near the Hepaticas, is the one Eloise Butler referred to as the ‘Inner Guard’ which appeared in a photograph published in The Bellman (pdf) in 1913. Further beyond in the photo shown here is the other large elm known as the 'Lone Sentinel.']

Other than that everything seems to be going well. In the bog the Cardinal Flower is blooming in great abundance for the second year and in the Prairie the Wild Poinsettia are blooming in numbers beyond expectation. The spectacular Prairie Docks are reproducing and we now have close to a dozen of them blooming--some over 8 feet tall.

[Note: In 1970 Friends President Cay Faragher had reported that Ken Avery had planted these in the Upland area in about 1963, although that was not the first Garden planting. They go back many years to Eloise Butler’s time.]

There were at this point, only 17 volunteers on the list serving as hosts at the Martha Crone Shelter. Joining the Friends this year is one of our longest serving members, Marilyn Rohlfing. She was a member through 2018. She passed away in 2020.

1972 was the coldest year on record since 1917.

Photo top of page: The Marsh in spring, May 15, 1952. 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. 20, # 1, January 1972, Mildred Olson, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 21]

Vol. 20, # 2, April 1972, Mildred Olson, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 21]

Vol. 20, # 3, July, 1972, Mildred Olson, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 22]

Vol. 20, # 4, October, 1972, Mildred Olson, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 22]

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. "" - 122720