Tamaracks in october

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

Winter 1981/1982

Ken Avery begins his 24th 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.

In the winter issue of the Friends newsletter (Vol. 30 No. 1 Winter 1982) it was noted that the winter had been cold and snowy, which was an understatement as the 1981-82 winter set a snowfall record of 95 inches, with 46.4 inches in January alone. The snow depth on Jan. 23rd was 38 inches. This record would only last until 1983-84. The second printing of the new self-guided trail brochure had been done with the Friends contributing another $2,500 and Prudential Insurance Company the remainder of the cost. Bob Price, husband of Friends Treasurer Caroline Price had made the contact with Oren McDonald of Prudential. The new printing would be available when the Garden opened for its 75th anniversary year and the 30th anniversary of the Friends. One of the newly elected MPRB board members was Friends member Patty Baker.

guide illustration
Illustration from the Guidebook, also used in the 1987 version.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) had applied to the Institute of Museum Services for a $5,000 grant to be used in the Garden and the application said this about the Friends:

The Eloise Butler Wildflower and Bird Sanctuary has received much community support throughout the years, particularly from its parent support group, the Friends of the Wildflower Garden, Inc., which was incorporated in 1952. This group has grown through the years to its current membership of 225. The basic membership donation is $5.00 with contributions ranging from $5.00 to $100.00.

The Friends of the Wildflower Garden, Inc., have been the major conduit for community and private financial support for the Sanctuary. Since their inception, the Friends have provided the funds to construct the education-visitors building ($27,000) at the Sanctuary, which was dedicated in 1970. They have also contributed financially in the past for planting, supplies, reference books, slides, and equipment. In 1980 they contributed in excess of $2,000 for the preparation and first printing of the interpretive guidebook, and in 1981 provided $2,500 for a second revised printing.

In addition, the Friends coordinate the recruitment and encouragement of volunteers to staff the education-visitors building. In 1981, 32 volunteers staffed the building for 1093 hours of the Sanctuary's 1712 hours of operation.

It is not clear whether the grant was ever approved. Note that in the text the writer used as the name of the Garden “The Eloise Butler Wildflower and Bird Sanctuary.” That name got its start in 1969 when the MPRB approved the Friend’s request to add “and Bird Sanctuary” to the Garden name changing it to “Eloise Butler Wild Flower and Bird Sanctuary.” Whether ‘Wild Flower’ became ‘Wildflower’ by mistake or if the MPRB wanted it that way is not known. After 1972 the current name was sometimes used but it was not until 1986 that official action was taken to change the wording to “Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary.” Details of the name history here.

Spring 1982

The 30th Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden was held in the Garden, on Saturday May 22nd, 1982, in the Martha Crone Shelter, 35 persons attending including MPRB Commissioner Patty Baker. As reported in the Newsletter (Vol. 30 No. 2 Spring/Summer 1982):

Lynn Deweese
Outgoing president Lynn Deweese. Friends photo.

Several past-presidents of the Friends were on hand to carry us back over the events in the Garden's history. Kenneth Avery, our fifth president, spoke of his experiences in first working with Martha Crone and then later replacing her as gardener. Cay Faragher, sixth president, spoke of the decisions involved in planning and building the shelter. Bob Dassett, seventh president, covered the years immediately following the shelter's completion. Alex Dean, ninth president, discussed the changes in the garden prompted by the spread of Dutch-elm disease, the initiation of planning for the self-guiding tour of the Garden and the first of the Friends' study grants. Lynn Deweese, eleventh president, finished the reminiscences by bringing us up to 1982.

Three other past-presidents were represented by letters. Walter Lehnert, our third president, extended greetings to us through a letter from his wife. Moana Beim, our eighth president, sent greetings and memories from her years of service, but also recalled the years when her father, Clinton Odell, our first president, worked with Martha Crone in establishing the Friends to assist in the preservation of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary.

There were 11 recipients of study grants for a total of $1,620. All the names are in the spring/summer issue. The Friends had established two study grant programs in 1978: One would be to establish scholarships for a few high school students to pursue the natural sciences. The second was to make tuition grants for grade school teachers in the Minneapolis Public School system to take a Nature Study course or an Audubon camp each summer.

Betty Bryan
Board member Betty Bryan, shown here in the early 2000's. Friends photo.

Marie Demler read the names of 39 persons on the shelter volunteer list. Included for the first time was Shirley Schultz who, in later years, would be on the Friends Board and would be volunteer coordinator.

Directors elected were: Cindy Berg, Betty Bridgman (new), Betty Bryan, Robert Dassett Jr., Marie Demler, Lynn Deweese, Emil Elftmann (new), Doris Larson, Janet O’Leary, Caroline Price, Patricia Thomesen (new).
Ex-officio member: Kenneth Avery. Martha Crone as honorary life member.

Leaving the board were Lynne Holman, Susan Warde, George Weiss.

Ken Avery reported that many trees had come down in the winter storms, and that due to MPRB budget cuts he was now working alone in the Garden, with Richard Wick available only as his substitute. Having helping hands cut to none was a great cause of frustration to Ken as were the topics he wrote about in the newsletter back in 1980.

Betty Bridgman, new Board member, but not new to working with the Friends as she had been a director in 1961, '62, and '63, and also served on past nominating committees, had written a special poem for the 30th anniversary of the Friends, titled “Ode for the 275 members of the Friends of the Eloise Butler Wild Flower Garden and Bird Sanctuary.” It was read at the beginning of the meeting. Betty was a well-known regional poet. Read the entire poem here, but here is one stanza:

Friends say to them,
“What! You’re volunteering on behalf of worthless weeds
nobody needs?
Think what beautiful homes would fill the scene
in that ravine!
Think of the expanse of lawn
When the clutter is gone!
The happy homeowners out with their mowers
and snow-blowers,
Their dandelion-diggers–

The line about homes in the ravine is appropriate since the original plat of the Saratoga Springs Addition to Minneapolis, where the Garden and Wirth Park now reside, was already platted for homes when the Board of Park Commissioners acquired the property. Platted streets named Abbott, Beard and Zenith ran north/south while Aonian and Arra made a circle around where parts of the Garden now exist. When Glenwood Park was later established the original concept for a parkway followed the placement of the current Garden entrance and exit drive but the parkway was actually built to circle the west side of Birch Pond instead.

At the Board meeting following the annual meeting, officers elected were: Caroline Price, President; Patricia Thomesen, Vice President; Betty Bryan, Secretary; Doris Larson, Treasurer.

Lynn Dewesee and Janet O’Leary continued the duties of editors of The Fringed Gentian™ but Mr. Dewesee asked to be relieved. Pat Thomesen also took on the new role of historian.

It was announced in the summer that founding director Russell Bennet had died and also the Friends 3rd president Walter Lehnert. Mr. Lehnert had been continuously active and had just sent his greetings in a letter read at the annual meeting.

Summer 1982

In the summer issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 30 No. 3 Summer 1982) new Friends President Caroline Price wrote about upcoming projects of the Friends such as adding a telephone answering device for the Shelter and the purchase of a wood chipper for the Garden.

It was announced the Mrs. Clarence Tolg (Ebba) has passed away. She was a board member in the early years of the Friends from 1953 through 1968 and Vice President from 1962 into 1966. She was known to Martha Crone for many years prior to joining the Friends board, appearing in Martha's records twice in 1942, stopping in the Garden for a visit with Martha noting she had not been in since 1940. The connection was wildflowers.

She was known as "Ebba" and also called Betty. In 1939 she had helped form the Golden Valley Garden Club, gave gardening talks and maintained a good sized wild flower garden at her home on 206 Meadow Lane North in Golden Valley, just a short distance from the Wildflower Garden. She was on the Minneapolis Campfire Girls Council in 1940s. Her husband, Clarence, became well known in the 1960s as "Uncle Fogey" on WCCO radio.

Betty Bridgman’s poem mentioned above was printed in its entirety in the summer issue.

Autumn 1982

Clinton Odell
Friends founder Clinton Odell with wife Amy and on left, Moana Odell Beim, Friends eighth president. Family photo.

At an October board meeting the board set the criteria for placing a name on the new Lydia W. Eliason “Honor Roll Plaque” in the Shelter. Lynn Dewesee retired as newsletter co-editor after the Autumn issue and Betty Bridgman joined in, taking on the sole responsibility for the newsletter beginning in 1983. Natalie Adler was helping Marie Demler with volunteer coordination.

After the Garden closed in the fall, Park Board workers put in new steps from the parking lot down to the front gate. This project had been delayed since 1975.

The last issue of the newsletter for the year (Vol. 30 No. 4 Autumn 1982 ) summarized those things and reprinted the following from the journal of Friends Founder Clinton Odell:

Thanksgiving day today - the turkey is in the oven - and real winter weather has descended upon us. There is a howling gale - and snow straight from the north. So I did what I love most; I put on overshoes, winter coat, muffler and heavy gloves. And I walked over to the Wildflower Garden. Down into the glen I descended where it was very still, with snow flakes falling straight down - thought the wind was still roaring thru the tree tops above. Really beautiful down there. I looked for my owl but could not locate him. And I could not help but wonder why mortals huddle around their radiators when they could go abroad and enjoy this delightful specialty of winter - snow flakes sifting down thru the spruce trees - and the wind roaring over head. Maybe I’m just different. NOV. 22, 1944

Photo top of page: Tamaracks in the Eloise Butler marsh in October. 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. 30, # 1, Winter 1982,Lynn Deweese, Doris Larson and Janet O’Leary, Editors [Mis-labeled as Vol. 32]
Vol. 30, # 2, Spring 1981, Lynn Deweese, Doris Larson and Janet O’Leary, Editors [Mis-labeled as Vol. 32]
Vol. 30, # 3, Summer, 1982, Lynn Deweese and Janet O’Leary, Editors [Mis-labeled as Vol. 32]
Vol. 30, # 4, Autumn, 1982, Lynn Deweese, Janet O’Leary and Betty Bridgman, Editors [Mis-labeled as Vol. 32]

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" - 111920