Upland Garden in summer

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

Winter 1984/1985

Ken Avery begins his 27th 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 of 1984-85, temperatures fluctuated above and below the average range toward the end of 1984 and precipitation decreased with virtually none in November and very little snow in December leaving only a 2 inch snow depth going into 1985. Early 1985 was entirely different. Snowfalls occurred regularly in January and February providing adequate snow depth for the plants until the end of February. Late January and the first half of February had a majority of the days with temperatures well below average with a minus 29 on January 29th. This changed in the last half of February with most days being above average with a huge 12 inch snowfall occurring after the 1st of March.

In late 1984 (December 4) four members of The Friends (President Pat Thomesen, Natalie Adler, Betty Bridgman and Betty Bryan) met with Park Board staff to air concerns of The Friends for the future care and development of the Wildflower Garden. In 1980 The Friends had drafted a policy statement about the Garden titled PROPOSALS FOR THE CONTINUING DEVELOPMENT OF THE ELOISE BUTLER WILDFLOWER AND BIRD SANCTUARY. This was a subject that occupied the attention future Boards also. The consensus of the group was that their ideas were listened to. In preparation for the Annual Meeting to be held on May 18, Board member Ken Avery agreed to chair the Friends Nominating Committee.

Spring 1985

Dan Hasty
Dan Hasty, Park Board Foreman of Horticulture, shown here in 2005.

In the spring issue of the Friends newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 33 No. 2), Friends President Pat Thomesen reported that recruiting for volunteers was underway. Volunteer coordinators were Shirley Schultz and Joyce Smeby. (Shirley would continue in this volunteer position until 2005). Editor Betty Bridgman printed a report from the Naturalists who had worked in the Garden in 1984. In April, Ken Avery was interviewed on public radio station KSJN and the Friends held a “Garden Potluck” at the Martha Crone Shelter.

The Annual Membership Meeting of the Friends was held May 18th at the Martha Crone Shelter. Elected to the Board of Directors were: Natalie Adler, Cindy Berg, Betty Bridgman, Elizabeth Bryan, Emil Elftmann, Catherine Ordner, Liz Pomeroy, Shirley Schultz, Joyce Smeby, Gloria Miller (new), Patricia Thomesen.
Ex-officio member: Kenneth Avery. Martha Crone as honorary life member. Marie Demler left the Board.

Ken Avery reported that everything in the Garden was “ridiculously early” compared to 1984 when everything was only “unseasonably early” and that there had been fewer bird migrants than usual through the Garden. Certainly the weather had much to do with that. Daily temperatures in March, April and the first half of May were well above average with a number of days in April above 80 degrees. Precipitation was good also. There was another 12 inch snowfall in early April and good rains in May and June.

Ostrich Fern
Ostrich Fern fiddleheads (Matteucia struthiopteris) Photo G D Bebeau

Garden hours:Following the successful test in 1984 of a later closing time for the Garden, in 1985, the season began with the daily Garden-open hours being 7:30 AM till dusk, which schedule has been followed ever since. Besides the volunteer help in the Shelter, Ken had four naturalists to help: Linda Buehring and Laurie Haugen returned from the 1984 season and they were joined by David Rafferty and David Eitzman. They staffed the Shelter on weekends and evenings.

The Park Board’s Foreman of Horticulture, Dan Hasty, reported confiscating from rogue pickers, trash bags full of fiddle heads from Ostrich Ferns.

At the Board of Directors meeting following the annual meeting, Patricia Thomesen was reelected President; Emil Elfmann - Vice President; Elizabeth Bryan - Secretary; and Natalie Adler - Treasurer. In other slots: Cindy Berg was historian and memorials chair; Liz Pomeroy was membership chair and Catherine Ordner was grants chair. This is the first time that membership duties had been split off from the Secretary’s duties into a separate membership job. Shirley Schultz and Joyce Smeby were volunteer coordinators.

Summer 1985

This year the Friends Board continued a “small grants” program for applicants who were pursuing some study of the natural world. By the end of the year, 15 small dollar grants would be made - six to college students ($200 each) and eight to students at the Minneapolis Public Schools Agribusiness Center ($50 each). In addition, a grant of $385 was provided to Donovan Klausen to study at the National Audubon Camp: Total costs - $1,985. Names of winners are listed in the June Newsletter (Vol. 33 No. 2).
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.

Station WCCO and Mpls/St. Paul Magazine were doing a daily selection called “Summer Pleasures Days” and August 20th was the day that The Garden was featured. The Friends helped host the event and tours were given in the Upland Garden.

The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 33 No. 2) reported on much of this including the positive result of a search for lost issues of the newsletter. Lon Miller’s poem “Trillium” was published. You can read his other poems in “Poets Corner” in the site archive.

The weather in the summer months moderated as if frequently does and average temperatures fluctuated above and below the normal range infrequently. There was reasonable rain including one rainfall of almost 2.5 inches in mid-August.

Autumn 1985

Main Gate Sign
Entrance Sign just off Theodore Wirth Parkway

In The Fringed Gentian™ notice was given of the death of Wilbur H. Tusler, at age 94 on August 14th. Mr. Tusler (details) was a noted Twin Cities architect, member of the Friends, donor and chairman of The Friends Building Committee for the Martha Crone Shelter in 1968-1970.

At the fall meeting of the Friends Board of Directors, Park Board Foreman of Horticulture (a position that oversaw maintenance of the Garden), Dan Hasty, discussed maintenance projects for the Garden:

1987 guidebook
1987 Guidebook cover

The Friends provided a Grant to the Garden of $1,000 for new plant acquisition. The cost of mailing an issue of The Fringed Gentian™ was 8 cents.

Weather: In mid-November temperatures began to plummet compared to seasonal averages with hardly any days that were toward the upper normal range; this lasted until the end of the year. Many days in November and December were 15 to 25 degrees below average. Nevertheless there were some good snowfalls in November including one of 8.5 inches and with the low temperatures good snow depth for the plants was maintained with 12 inches still on the ground at the end of the year.

Photo top of page: The Upland Garden in Summer. 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. 33, # 1, March 1985, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 35]

Vol. 33, # 2, June 1985, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 35]

Vol. 33, # 3, August, 1985, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 35]

Vol. 33, # 4, September, 1985, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 35]

Historical Climatology of Minneapolis-St. Paul Area by Charles Fisk.

Friends Home Page

©2019 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. Photos are the property of the Friends or as credited. Photos credited to others 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" - 010821