Cary George

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

Winter 1987/1988

Gloria Miller with Friendship Book
Gloria Miller with the gift book "From Friends to Friends". Friends photo.

Gardener Cary George begins his second year in charge of the Garden.

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.

The Friends produced a new small gift book titled From Friends to Friends, that would be available to anyone donating $25 or more to the Friends for support of the Garden. It was a combination of color Garden plant photos and poetry and produced entirely by Friends President Gloria Miller and husband Lon. Several copies are available in our records and a full size pdf version (although not as good looking as the original) will be found in the Site Archive - Garden Reflections. Printing of the booklet was funded by Shirley Schultz.

A new guidebook for the Garden, which included a new trail map, was finally ready for printing by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB). The cost of printing of the 10,000 copy run was donated by Prudential Insurance CO. In that era, visitors could pick up a copy and take it home with them - hence the need for the large print run. It would be reprinted four times. The Friends funded a Garden census in 1986 for the preparation of this guide. Design of the guide had begun in 1986 and there is more detail in that history. The whole project had been delayed a year when Ken Avery had lost the original draft.

1987 Garden Guidebook
New guidebook cover.

Martha Hellander’s name shows up as a new member in The Friends Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 36 No. 1), and it was announced that she was writing a biographical book about Eloise Butler. The Friends, beginning in 1989, would provide financial support for the project. The book would eventually be titled The Wild Gardener (Image). Martha attended the Friends' Board Meeting on Jan. 30th to discuss her research.

It was also noted in the winter issue of the newsletter that the Minneapolis Metrodome lost and found department donated 10 pair of binoculars to the Park Board for use at the Eloise Butler Garden. The Park Board forestry crews did extensive work in the Wirth Park Bog by removing Buckthorn in early January and burning the cuttings in early March. They also attempted to burn the Purple Loosestrife in the adjoining area and then when spring arrives they were to use techniques developed by the Nature Conservancy to keep sprouts under control. However, it would take biological controls (beetles) to rid the area of the plant. The biological program began in 1997.

There was not much snow coming into the new year but January 1988 produced significant snowfalls such that by month end the snow depth would be around 14 inches. After mid-February, precipitation dropped off and the weather moved into a dry pattern that would result in 1988 being labeled a drought year.

Spring 1988

Spring Prairie Burn
Above: Spring Prairie Burn. Click image for larger image. Friends photo.

The Garden opened on April 1st without weather problems. Shirley Schultz of The Friends was coordinating the volunteers to staff the Martha Crone Shelter. The new Garden Guidebook was available for visitors.

On April 9th, Cary George attended a seminar on invasives - Leafy spurge, Buckthorn and Purple loosestrife, all of which had made their way into Wirth Park and the Garden. After not burning the prairie last year due to the permit not being granted, the burn occurred this year on April 14 - 15. Former Gardener Ken Avery helped with the burn. Even though a permit had been issued by the MN Pollution Control Agency, the Minneapolis Fire Department still showed up when office workers downtown in the IDS Center reported a fire.

Martha Hellander
Author Martha Hellander. Friends photo.

No early bloom records were set this year and unusually, there were no blooms on the Yellow Lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens).

The Friends held their Annual Meeting on May 14th in the Garden at the Martha Crone Shelter. Elected board members were: Ione Allison, Connie Bartz-Lavoie, Betty Bridgman, Elizabeth Bryan, Dr. Norman Busse, Elaine Christenson (new), Sallie W. Cole, Melvin Duoos, Ann Kessen, Gloria Miller, Donna Sandstrom (new), Shirley Schultz, Joyce Smeby, Patricia Thomesen and Jane Wolke (new).
Ex-officio members were Cary George, Dan Hasty and Ken Avery.

Martha Hellander was introduced to the Friends. MPRB Foreman of Horticulture Dan Hasty, spoke at the meeting about plans for a new design of entrances to the Garden. [Note: The front gate project would get done in 1990, the back gate would not be done until 1995/97.] The Garden received 6 pairs of the binoculars from the Metrodome Lost and Found. The Friends purchased a refrigerator for the Martha Crone Shelter and allocated $200 for purchase of reference books for the Shelter.

Marion Grimes Obit
Obituary of Dr. Marian Grimes. Click image for larger copy.

At the Board of Directors meeting following the annual meeting, Gloria Miller stepped down as president. Newly elected officers were Ann Kessen, President; Elizabeth (Betty) Bryan - Vice President; Joyce Smeby - Secretary; Melvin Duoos, Treasurer. In continuing roles: Betty Bridgman - editor of the Friends newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™; Shirley Schultz - volunteer coordinator; Pat Thomesen (past president 1984-85) - membership chair. Elaine Christenson became memorials chair, Connie Bartz-Lavoie, grants chair, and Donna Sandstrom became historian. Membership was reported to be 191 - which was a low point in recent history. Membership fees were a minimum of $5 at the time.

A reception for Garden volunteers was hosted by The Friends at 6:30 PM on June 7th at the Garden.

The May issue of The Fringed Gentian™, reported that Friends member Dr. Marian Grimes had passed away on April 22nd. Dr. Grimes was volunteer coordinator for the Friends from 1971 to 1980, taking over from Mildred Olson who had organized the shelter volunteer program when the shelter was completed in 1970. She was a shelter volunteer herself, a past member of the Friends Board of Directors and active in the Minnesota Mycological Society. In 1983 she wrote an article in The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 31 No. 1) on Henry David Thoreau’s visit to Minneapolis and his visit to her grandfather in search of a special crabapple tree. The Friends received a $1,000 bequest from the estate.

The current newsletter issue also reported a long list of bird sightings, not at the Garden, but at the Roberts Bird Sanctuary at Lake Harriet.

Weather: Precipitation was well below average in the spring season and temperatures were above average. This would be a drought year with just over 18 inches of precipitation all year.

Summer 1988

Jimmy Carter
Former President Jimmy Carter visiting Eloise Butler on June 9. Tribune photo.

Former President Jimmy Carter visited the Garden on June 9th. He was in several cities in June 1988 promoting his new book Outdoor Journal. In Minneapolis he had a book signing that afternoon at B. Dalton but had time to visit the Garden earlier in the day. Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Bob Lundegaard spent time with the President at the Garden and reported that while sitting on a bench in the Garden Carter recited some lines from Bryant's Thanatopsis. He reported that "occasionally visitors would walk by, smile and nod, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to walk along a wilderness path and run into a former president." (June 11, 1988, Minneapolis Star Tribune PDF of article.)

In the Friend’s newsletter President Ann Kessen in her first “President’s Letter” reminds members to not let the summer heat keep them from visiting the Garden. The new guidebook, just printed prior to the Garden opening in the spring, is now in use at the Garden. It is also reported that former Garden Curator Martha Crone had entered a nursing home. She would pass away the following February.

Naturalists working in the Garden this year included: Marcia Holmberg, Nancy Niggley, Dawn Doering, David Rafferty and Stephanie Torbert.

Martha Crone
Above: Former Garden Curator Martha Crone, ca. 1953. Friends photo.

1988 was a year of drought. 1987 had been the 2nd wettest year in recorded weather history. Cary George reported that the bog was doing OK but he had great concern for the Woodland ephemerals. Many plants that don’t normally die back, were doing so. There was little new growth on trees and shrubs. In the prairie area there was also slow growth with wilting already noticed in the morning hours. Cary had water hoses employed everywhere. Fortunately there were water taps in the critical parts of the Garden. In other parts of the Minneapolis Parks system district foreman Jim Fagrelius put about 50 water buckets by trees around the city lakes with a flyer inside encouraging people to take buckets of lake water and water trees. Apparently many did so.

Temperatures in the summer was well above normal, 100.7º on June 24th, reaching 105º in July, with very little rain.

Former Garden Curator Martha Crone, ca. 1960, entered a nursing home in the summer of 1988. Her family donated the wild flowers from her home garden at 3723 Lyndale Ave. No. to the Wildflower Garden. These included some rare trilliums and ferns.

Autumn 1988

Cary George
Above: Cary George cutting Buckthorn in the Garden. Friends photo.

Cary George reported that two yearling deer found their way into the Garden “Much to the delight of visitors - especially school children." Wirth Park also had an unusually high number of deer sightings. Cary reported that they were still in the Garden in early October and would cause damage if not gotten out before winter. An attempted break-in to the Shelter occurred on Sept. 27th, but the alarm scared the intruders off. Only the plexiglass on the door was broken.

In the autumn issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 36 No. 4) Cary George also noted that autumn color might not be that brilliant due to the drought. He reported there were seven varieties of goldenrod and nine varieties of aster blooming in the Garden in the fall. At the Friends Board meeting on October 1st, discussions included Martha Hellander's research on Eloise Butler, the use of the $1,000 received from the Grimes Estate, the need for a folding staircase to access the attic of the Shelter and various small items needed for the Shelter. The creation of a Friends' Mission Statement was planned. The Friends also had two ceiling spotlights installed in the Shelter for wall illumination at a cost of $253.

In the same issue volunteer coordinator Shirley Schultz recognized those 38 volunteers who staffed the Martha Crone Shelter during the year. President Ann Kessen noted the Garden would be open until October 31 and October would be a great time to be in the Garden. During the year the Friends had revenue of $3,925 - $1,100 from memorials, $2,516 from memberships, $309 from investment income. Expenses were $4,838 including the two purchases for the Shelter; Asset balance $7,126

In September the city of Minneapolis inaugurated the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center.

The Garden closed for the season on October 31st.

Weather: The autumn season was similar to the previous months - temperatures were somewhat above normal and precipitation was much below normal. There was some rain in September but little precipitation after that. The year ended with less than 19 inches of precipitation vs an average of 27.7 inches.

Photo top of page: Cary George with visiting School Group in the Martha Crone Shelter (Friends photo from 2000)

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. 36, # 1, April 1988, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 38]

Vol. 36, # 2, May 1988, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 38]

Vol. 36, # 3, July, 1988, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 38]

Vol. 36, # 4, September, 1988, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 38]

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. "" - 020321