the marsh in early spring

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

Winter 1976/1977

Ken Avery begins his 19th 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 a the bottom of this page.

Marsh in winter.
The Marsh area where peat fires frequently started when burning limbs and branches. This photo of the area is from 1951 from a Kodachome taken by Martha Crone.

In the Friend’s newsletter, (Vol. 25 No. 1 Jan 1977), Ken Avery told about cutting down and burning or treating the bark of more elms in the Garden, similar to what he had to do the prior year. The chemical treatment that was available, that Ken and John Murtfeldt of the Friends started to use in 1976, could also be used on standing diseased trees to kill the beetles before the tree was taken down. He reported treating all such trees in the Garden and many outside the fence until he ran out of treatment. He also made this note about peat fires in the wetland:

After our summer drought [1976 was a very dry year], burning the trees will be especially tricky this year, We have already had one peat fire in the Garden this fall [1976], I started back to work in November and on the first day back I discovered a peat fire toward the other end of the Garden. It seems someone had stolen some of our wood and had started a small fire and the peat ignited. I tried to dig it out myself on that first day, but I couldn't, so the next day I got help - five men from the Greenhouse. We dug all day and poured 100 gallons of water on it before we finally put it out. We have had to dig out many peat fires in the past, but none of them burned as fast nor were nearly as difficult to dig out as this one. Last year we started a little peat fire each place we burned the logs. This year we are going to have to be most diligent.

Newsletter Editor Evie Chadbourn wrote an article about snow with some references as to how the ancients viewed it.

Spring 1977

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl in Wirth Park behind the Garden north fence. Photo courtesy Al Jueneman

In The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 25 No. 2 April 1977) Ken Avery reported on organizational changes at the Park Board, several of which would affect the Garden in the future years, the most important of which was the appointment of Mary Maguire as Coordinator of Horticultural Programs. One of her duties besides programs was purchasing and planning. She would be involved with the Garden well into the later tenure of Gardener Cary George. Also Ken’s long-time assistant Sam Baker had retired at the end of 1976. Ken expected his replacement to be Richard Wick.

On another matter of the owls and woodpeckers that Ken frequently reported on:

Well, spring is here. I know she is because she is in bloom (in the form of Snow Trillium) down under the hemlocks by the back gate. However, on Sunday (April 3) I saw The Owl and The Owl is our bird of winter. As long as I have been here, the Great Horned Owl has spent the winter in the vicinity of the Garden and would disappear shortly after we opened and people began to arrive, and then would reappear again in the fall as the people became less evident. I assume that the owl which I saw fly over - chased by three crows - was our owl (a Great Horned Owl), but last winter I did see a Great Gray Owl here in the Garden and they are approximately the same size so I could be wrong, Two other birds I have been seeing lately are a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers. They have been here for over a year now so I guess we can start calling them "Our" Pileateds. I haven't seen any spring birds yet and even a Goldfinch that I saw was still quite drab.

Pool in the marsh
The third of three small pools in the marsh leading to the back gate pool that Ken refers to; from an earlier photo (May 27, 1950) taken from a Kodachrome by Martha Crone.

I don't imagine it will shock anyone if I mention that it is terribly dry in the Garden. Usually, even though the pools might be dry as we go into winter, after the spring thaw they are full and the boggy part of the Garden is soggy. This year the last pool is empty and the area by the bridge is as dry as a lawn. I've never seen it quite like this. [For some background on the ‘pools’ Ken mentions, see this article.]

Among other things in the spring issue, editor Evie Chadbourn noted it would be her last issue. Lynn and Pat Deweese had volunteered to take over. It seems, that after the long reign of Martha Crone as editor, it was difficult during this time period to find someone who wanted the job for an extended period.

On April 16th the Friends held a Board meeting at the home of Bruce Hooper. Ken Avery reviewed the changes in staff at the Park Board and at the Garden. The Friends treasury had assets of $5,116. Mrs. Grimes wanted to place a notice in the Minneapolis paper asking for shelter volunteers and Mr. Deweese presented framed photos of Eloise Butler and Martha Crone to be placed in the Shelter - presumably the ones still there today (2020). The Crone photo is presumably the one Mrs. Beim brought in for the shelter in Sept. 1975. The annual meeting was being delayed till June to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Founding of the Friends.

Summer 1977

Moana Odell Beim and May Maguire Lerman - 1981
Friends past president Moana Odell Beim (left) and behind, Mary Maguire Lerman, MPRB Coordinator of Horticulture, shown here in the Garden in 1981. Photo courtesy Lynne Holman.

The Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden was held in the Garden, on Saturday June 4th, 1977, in the Martha Crone Shelter, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Friends, 33 persons attending. Former Friends President Cay Faragher made all the arrangements.

Kenneth Avery gave his report of the status of the Garden. He reported that a large selection of plants had been provided by the Park Board, that he had treated all the elms in the Garden and that the vandalism in the Garden had been limited to damaging the screen door of the Shelter, and tipping over the Odell benches near the Odell Bird Bath. This was the earliest year for spring bloom in his records, besting even 1976 which had then been the earliest.

He then introduced Mary Maguire, the new Co-ordinator of Horticulture who told of new improvements including the placing of 4x4 posts along the path with manila hemp rope between the posts. [This would last many years, but the rope was never replaced when it wore out]. Additionally, more trees were to be planted, replacing the elms.

Dr. Marian Grimes reported there were 21 volunteers for the Shelter. Her notice in the Minneapolis paper produced no results. Also, she wished to be relieved of the chairmanship of the volunteer committee, but agreed to stay on.

There were several invited guests who had been on the Friends Board for many years previously. Attending were Martha Crone, Leonard Ramberg, Whitney Eastman, Wilber Tusler and Russell Bennett who was represented by his wife, as he was on his way to his ranch in Alberta. All spoke of their Garden experiences. This was the last annual meeting founding directors Leonard Ramberg and Martha Crone attended.

As of this date, the old Garden “Office” was still resting near the back gate of the Garden.

Directors elected were: Moana Beim, Jean Chamberlain, Evie Chadbourn, Alexander Dean, Robert Dassett Jr., Lynn Deweese, Dr. Marian Grimes, Bruce Hooper, Walter Lehnert, John Murtfeldt, Mildred Olson.
Ex-officio member: Kenneth Avery. Martha Crone as honorary life member.

Lynne Deweese and Lynne Holman
New Friends Board members O. Lynn Deweese (left) and Lynne Holman (right) shown here in 1981 Photo courtesy Lynne Holman.

At the Board meeting following the annual meeting, new officers elected were: Alexander Dean, President; John Murtfeldt, Vice President; Jean Chamberlain, Secretary; Bruce Hooper, Treasurer.
Lynn and Pat Deweese had the duty of editors of The Fringed Gentian™.

The Friends held a board meeting on July 27th at the Martha Crone Shelter in the Garden.
The old elm in the bog behind the Garden [largest in the City of Minneapolis] was still surviving with the inoculation program carried out by the Friends beginning in 1976. As none of the dead trees had been removed the prior winter due to lack of organizing it, The Friends suggested that if the Park Board couldn’t get to it, perhaps the Friends should hire an outside contractor to do it.

New Friends member Lynne Holman suggested that the Friends do more educational work in and about the Garden. She suggested that small conducted tours were a possibility for the Friends and also a self-guided tour brochure. [Martha Crone had made such a brochure during her tenure. PDF Copy]. There were some against and some for this idea, but eventually The Friends would fund and help produce a number of self-guided Garden brochures. Ms. Holman would become chair of a committee to produce brochures.

In the summer issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 25 No. 3 July 1977) Ken Avery made a report on earliest and latest and average bloom dates for early spring flowers. [pdf version here].
There was a long article about the new Park Board Co-ordinator of Horticulture, Mary Maguire, giving her background, what she does and her thoughts about the Garden. She now had been married and was now Mary Maguire Lerman.
The report about the annual meeting was also given in the summer issue.

Autumn 1977

In The Fringed Gentian™, (Vol. 25 No. 4 Autumn 1977) Ken Avery reported he had found a turkey vulture in the Garden, a bird, he said, that many birders did not believe was in Minnesota.

Lynne Holman reported on the Garden tour brochures with this note:

Mary Lerman
Mary Maguire Lerman, MPRB Coordinator of Horticulture, shown here in a 1978 newspaper article examining the stump of an elm.

Mary [Lerman] has committed herself to two projects which should be completed before spring, 1978. The Friends will be assisting her during the winter.
FIRST - an informational brochure will be distributed to the school systems and other organizations who visit the Garden in groups. This brochure will describe proper behavior in the Garden and provide guidance on group size and adult/child ratios. This will hopefully enhance the enjoyment for such groups and limit any potential damage to the Garden.
SECOND - a new general information brochure will be prepared to replace the present blue folder. This brochure will include educational material on the several habitats and on the flora and fauna in the Garden. Hopefully it will provide a self-guided tour which individuals and group leaders can use for greater understanding of the area.

The newsletter issue also contained a new column by board member John Murtfeldt on Wild Gardening Notes. John owned a wildflower nursery.

President Alexander Dean wrote the following in the newsletter:
Many of you may remember this time last year when we were in the throes of a severe drought that I wrote about the change that could come on the wild flower garden if such a dry spell lasted for years! Emerson wrote a treatise on "compensation," and though he really wasn't talking about the physical universe, it does appear as though there is compensation in nature. According to my rain gauge (not entirely accurate), we had 14 inches of rain spring, summer, and fall last year. This year, we have had 32 inches to November 1! And the garden is responding gloriously. The black soil is moist deep down, and the natural water table of the bog is back to normal. So the dry spell is compensated for, and the lovely wildlings are getting ready for a deep winter sleep with roots snuggled in the comforting damp earth. And the birds seem hardly to believe that the fall could be so mild, darting around like it was spring. In fact in my own woods, the white woods violets are blooming again as though it were spring! Your hardworking curator is busy planting new trees this fall, and your dedicated Board is developing new ideas for the well-being of your garden.

At a Friends Board meeting on Oct. 22nd at the Martha Crone Shelter, it was approved to buy for the Garden at Mr. Avery’s request, a log splitter ($400) and two booster fans for the Shelter fireplace ($100). [In 1978 the Raygo Company donated the log splitter to the Friends.] Lynne Holman was working with Mary McGuire Lerman on the Garden brochure and on a brochure for school children. Dr. Marian Grimes had received a Community Service Award from the Voluntary Action Center, following her nomination by the Friends.
Ken Avery reported he was getting these trees for fall planting: River Birch, Sugar Maple, Tamarack, Butternut and Black Ash.

Photo top of page: The wetland marsh in early spring. Photo ©G D Bebeau

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. 25, # 1, Winter 1977, Evie Chadbourn, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 27]

Vol. 25, # 2, Spring 1977, Evie Chadbourn, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 27]

Vol. 25, # 3, Summer, 1977, Lynn and Pat Deweese, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 27]

Vol. 25, # 4, Autumn, 1977, Lynn and Pat Deweese, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 27]

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. "" - 122620