Fall color

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

Winter 1982/1983

Ken Avery begins his 25th 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 newsletter, (Vol. 31 No. 1 March 1983), Dr. Marian Grimes, just recently retired as Friends volunteer coordinator, wrote about Henry Thoreau’s visit to her Grandfather. Here is the story as printed, written by Betty Bridgman, with one correction added:

Grimes house
The Jonathan T. Grimes House in Edina. Built by Dr. Marion Grimes Grandfather. Photo ©Elkman.

Betty wrote: Marian Grimes, M.D., retired from practice in 1968, and from 1968 till 1980 she headed the volunteer recruitment and scheduling that has kept the Martha Crone Shelter in the Garden open six hours daily during the season. [note - this is incorrect, shelter volunteers did not begin until 1970 and were organized and coordinated by Mildred Olson. Dr. Grimes took over in May 1971] Marian lived close by at 1105 Washburn Avenue South; and when volunteers were few, she would serve in the Shelter herself and use its phone to recruit more volunteers. Marian now lives at 8915 Colfax Avenue South, Bloomington. Recently she was reading in Update, a publication of the University of Minnesota, an article about Henry David Thoreau's visit to Minneapolis in June 1861. One objective of his trip was to see a fine crab-apple tree he had heard of. The article says, "Someone sent him to a Mr. Grimes . . . They found quite a cluster of them.”

Ed. Note by B. Bridgman: The editor has lived on what was the Grimes farm for 43 years, and has heard that Jonathan Grimes kept a rowboat moored at what is now 42nd Street and Grimes Avenue, and that he could row from there through swamps to Lake Calhoun. Marian wrote the Update editor that "a Mr. Grimes" was her grandfather. She writes the following for our Fringed Gentian™:

I had heard that Thoreau had visited my grandfather's nursery in Edina. It was called the Calhoun Nursery, and I've been told it was the first nursery in Minnesota. My grandfather, Jonathan T. Grimes, came to Minnesota from Virginia because he disapproved of slavery. When my parents were married, Grandfather gave my father the eastern part of his farm, the block between 44th and 45th Streets and Beard and Chowen Avenues South. (The pronunciation of 'Chowen' was 'Kowen.').

I like to think that the wild apple tree in our garden at 44th and Beard was the one Mr. Thoreau spotted. I picked many a gorgeous bouquet of blossoms from this tree in my child hood and gave them to neighbors. The apples, though! They were like round green olives, very hard, and didn't even soften from freezing.

The Jonathan T. Grimes home at 4200 West 44th Street in Edina is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is considered to be the best example of Gothic architecture in a home in this area. Richard E. Stallard, D.D.S., Ph.D., is the present owner, and has accomplished much in restoring the old homestead, as I like to call it. He is a director of Edina Historical Society. Last summer he transplanted a clematis vine from my yard to his. It originally came from the Calhoun Nursery. Possibly this farm of my grandfather was a magnet for naturalists. Dr. Roberts of bird fame [Thomas Sadler Roberts for whom the Robert’s Bird Sanctuary at Lake Harriet is named] hunted deer there frequently. My mother, Jennie Alden, was a student of Miss Eloise Butler. I hope this account provides a bit of 'meat' for The Fringed Gentian™ and explains my interest in the Eloise Butler Wildflower and Bird Sanctuary.

In the same issue one of the recipients of a Friends Study Grant, Delores Maghrak, published a report of her study at Mt. St. Helens.

The membership was also informed that during the past fall [1982], the Park Board workers put in new steps from the Parking lot down to the front gate of the Garden. The Friends had paid for a handrail along the steps in 1975.

Spring/Summer 1983

The Garden did not open until April 11 due to a belated spring and even then a Friends Board meeting in the Shelter just after opening had members traversing deep snow. 21.8 inches of snow fell in April 1983 - an April record that held until April 2018 when the Garden opening was delayed until May 1. But by the time of the annual meeting spring had caught up.

handrail along approach steps
The handrail along the steps leading the Garden Gate installed in 1975. The steps shown here were installed in the fall of 1982. (photo from 2008, G D Bebeau)

The 31st Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden was held in the Garden, on Saturday May 21st, 1983, in the Martha Crone Shelter, 35 persons attending.

President Caroline Price noted the new steps to the Garden gate and two new benches in the Garden along the path from the front gate to the shelter; the benches were funded by the Friends from gifts received in honor of Dr. Marion Grimes and in memory of Harold E. Dalquist. Their names are the first two on the Eliason Honor Board in the Crone Shelter. The benches were installed without labor cost by Mr. Hamele of the Hamele Co., supplier of the benches. No memorial plaque was ever installed on the benches. The wood was replaced in 2000.

There were 11 recipients of study grants for a total of $1,975. All the names are in the Spring/Summer issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 31 No. 2 July 1983) which was issued as a combined seasonal 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 in the summer.

Directors elected were: Natalie Adler (new), Cindy Berg, Betty Bridgman, Betty Bryan, Marie Demler, Lynn Deweese, Emil Elftmann, Doris Larson, Catherine Ordner (new), Liz Pomeroy (new), Caroline Price, Patricia Thomesen.
Ex-officio member: Kenneth Avery. Martha Crone as honorary life member.

Judy Jones
Volunteer Judy Jones. Friends Photo.

Leaving the board were Robert Dassett Jr., Janet O’Leary. The Friends had assets of $4,525. There were 40 names on the Shelter volunteer list.

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

Betty Bridgman was now the sole editor of the Fringed Gentian™, Pat Thomesen was historian. The new Eliason Honor Board was in place on the shelter wall with Cindy Berg was in charge of memorials. Marie Demler continued as volunteer coordinator with Natalie Adler assisting. Membership was still handled by the Secretary.

In the evening of June 7th at the Martha Crone Shelter, the Friends hosted a volunteer appreciation open house. Many came and some of those present talked about how they became interested in the Garden. These comments are in the Newsletter but here is one about Judy Jones:

Judy Jones remembers coming here about 20 years ago. She picked up a tiny ball of fur near the bird feeder, and heard a voice behind her - caretaker Ken Avery - saying, “Are you a connoisseur of owl pellets?"

Judy was a new volunteer this year and would be a volunteer till the end of 2009.

Autumn 1983

Yellow Maples
Yellow Maples as described by Ken Avery. Photo G D Bebeau.

The November issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 31 No. 3 November 1983) consisted almost entirely of a long message from Friends President Caroline Price about late October in the Garden and several solicitations the Friends received. One was from the Minneapolis Art Institute, which was going to start up a new fund raising attraction in 1984 called “Art In Bloom” and they were asking if the Friends could help make a gallery arrangement. Next, the Friends of the Minnesota Valley asked for some funding help. They were declined but President Price published the information to be certain members understood that the Friends support only one thing - the Garden, but members could independently give their support to Minnesota Valley.

One of her paragraphs was about a conversation with Curator Ken Avery:

We talked about volunteer trees which have established themselves in the Garden. A volunteer tree is one that has seeded itself naturally. Ken feels that these volunteers are much hardier than trees grown from a root graft at a nursery. After the removal of diseased elms five or so years ago, volunteer red maple, white oak, red oak, ash, black walnut and others found conditions favorable for growing. The shade created by these and by mature trees causes the fall color in the Garden to be subdued. Acer rubrum, or native red maple, turns a vibrant sunset-color when in a sunny location. Here in the shade of the Garden its fall color is yellow.

As I looked out the Shelter window, I saw a wren flit by. I saw nuthatches, chickadees, and migrating warblers. Ken has heard the call of pileated woodpeckers in the Garden this fall. The pileated is a large woodpecker, crow-size. It is black and white, with a red crest on its head. About five years ago a pair of these woodpeckers nested in a dead birch tree in the Garden. A storm blew the birch down while the pair were still nesting. Three years ago another pair nested in a low cavity in a rotting birch. A raccoon discovered this nest, and the pair disappeared. Ken says that pileateds are not as rare as people think. They're good at keeping out of sight. Records show that people used to eat this bird.

santa graphic
This Santa graphic was used in the November newsletter to suggest a gift of Friends membership for Christmas.

The other page in the Newsletter was another first for the Friends - offering members the ability to give a gift membership, a proposal prepared by new board member Liz Pomeroy. Basic membership was still $5, with increasing amounts titled Sustainer, $10; Sponsor, $25; Builder, $100; Benefactor $200.

The Garden closed on Oct. 31st. 1983 was the great ‘El Nino’ year, the wettest year since 1911 with 39.07 inches of precipitation. January to early March were very mild. April saw 21.8 inches a snow, a record to that date for April which held until 2018. December was the coldest since 1831.

Photo top of page: Fall color in the Upland Garden at Eloise Butler. 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. 31, # 1, March 1983, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 33]

Vol. 31, # 2, July 1983, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 33]

Vol. 31, # 3, November, 1983, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 33]

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" - 010721