Bog path in spring

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

Winter 1988/1989

Martha Hellander
Author Martha Hellander in Maine in 1989. Friends photo.

Gardener Cary George begins his third 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.

Cary George had a good time unsuccessfully trying to round up four deer that had become trapped in the Garden during the early winter. Two of them were probably the two yearling that were seen in the fall of 1988. Damaged fences were repaired and in the spring no new deer tracks were found, so they had gotten themselves out of the Garden before the fence repair. Tree limbs can fall on the perimeter fence, or a gate left open, allowing for deer entry. The Gardener cannot take the time to walk the perimeter fence each day so deer can quickly find an entrance if the fence is down. During the winter four Bluebird houses were erected in the Upland Garden using the Starling-proof “Peterson Design.” (1)

At the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden board meeting on January 21st, President Ann Kessen introduced a draft of a new mission statement for The Friends. The key concepts of the statement were cultivation, cooperation and communication. In regards to “cultivation” it was specifically stated the “The plant collection is important to us.” Thus the Friends emphasized and continued to support helping fund the ongoing replacement of the plant collection as it is deemed necessary by the Garden Curator. (2)

Martha Hellander: The Board also agreed to help Martha Hellander raise funds for her research project and book contract on the life of Eloise Butler. The Friends agreed to be named as an “applicant” for a Minnesota Historical Society Grant to be used for the project. The maximum grant would be $7,500 and Martha Hellander believed that her total costs may be $9,420 above the amount of the grant.

In the meantime, the Board approved her request to provide $925 to cover her research costs from November 1988 through April 1989. In addition $2,400 was voted to support the project along with an anonymous grant of $1,000 that had been received for the project. The membership would be asked for special donations to support the project and a special bank account was opened for the “Eloise Butler Biography Fund.”

Martha Crone
Former Garden Curator Martha Crone. Friends photo.

The Martha Crone Shelter was in need of new roof which the Park Board intended to do in August. The Board was concerned about the closeness of some trees to the roof. The Park Board agreed to trim but not remove any trees. In addition The Friends were researching the cost of a drop-down ladder to access the attic in the Shelter.

An inventory was taken of books in the Shelter Library - the total was 202, but many were from the early 1900s or earlier or of specific topics and may be out-of-date. (PDF File of the inventory)

The four bridges over water channels in the marsh were to have been replaced during the winter but as of yet, had not been. President Kessen was also looking for a Board Member to act as liaison with the Park Board. And finally, it was thought that the Friends should have more communication with members than just the newsletter. It was decided that a “President’s Letter” would be issued at the beginning and end of each year to supplement the information in The Fringed Gentian™. (2)

Weather: Following the drought year of 1988, precipitation picked up in early 1989 with many snowfalls in the first 3 months and placing the winter of 1988-89 in the above average snowfall range but rains would be light later on and 1989 would still be a year of below average precipitation.

Lastly and sadly, Martha Crone, 2nd Garden Curator, passed away on February 5th at 95 years of age. Her obituary appeared on February 7th in the Star-Tribune. She was buried at Crystal Lake Cemetery in Minneapolis in the plot she and husband Bill (who died in 1951) had purchased many years previously.

1. The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 37 No. 1, March 1989 (pdf)
2. Minutes of Friends Board meeting January 21, 1989

Spring 1989

Dan Hasty
Above: Dan Hasty, Foreman of Horticulture for the Park Board. Friends photo.

The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden held a Board Meeting at the Martha Crone Shelter on April 15, 1989. Gardener Cary George reported that the season was about one week behind normal and that some rain was needed, but many Snow Trilliums were blooming. The spring outside the Garden (Great Medicine Spring) had dried up, and he had plans for burning off the prairie area the following week. (1)

The Minnesota Historical Society grant applied for in the winter to help fund Martha Hellander’s research on her Eloise Butler biography was approved at 1/2 the requested amount - $3,600 was approved. Martha planned to use the funds for a research trip east in the summer. (1)

President Ann Kessen presented the Mission Statement (pdf) of The Friends and it was adopted as of April 15, 1989. This was the first such. A committee of Betty Bryan, Pat Thomesen, Shirley Schultz, Elaine Christenson and Ann Kessen had formed in October 1988 to create a proposal for a more definite "mission" for the Friends. [October 1 1988 minutes] The Board voted to approve $1,000 in support of a Natural Resources Development Grant to be used to dredge the marsh and reconfigure the northern boundary fence of the Garden. Martha Crone’s daughter Janet donated Martha's slide collection to the Friends and a sorting project was underway. The hood on the fireplace in the shelter was cleaned and polished. (1)

Deer in Garden
Deer in the Garden. Friends photo.

NOTE: The Natural Resource Development Grant application was submitted to the Metropolitan Council, but was turned down in favor of a grant to the Roberts Bird Sanctuary for work already in progress there. Grant Request Document (PDF).However, in 1992 most of the project was accomplished with another grant and with funding help from the Friends when the new back gate project was initiated.

On May 20th, the Friends held their annual meeting at the Martha Crone Shelter. Elected to the Board of Directors for the coming year were: Geri Benavides, Betty Bryan, Betty Bridgman, Norm Busse, Elaine Christenson, Sallie Cole, Melvin Duoos, Ann Kessen, Connie Lavoie, Gloria Miller, Donna Sandstrom, Shirley Schultz, Joyce Smeby, Kathryn Stennes (new) and Pat Thomesen.
Ex-officio members were Cary George, Dan Hasty and Ken Avery.

Cary George
Gardener Cary George with a Witch Hazel. Friends photo.

Cary George reported that the wildflowers planted from Martha Crone’s Garden last year during the height of the drought were growing nicely - a tribute to native material. He stated that the Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) had died and that there were 20% fewer ferns than in 1988. A Redbud had first been planted by Eloise Butler back in 1909. Martha Crone planted the tree in 1948, ’50, ’54 and ’56. As a result of the drought in 1988, he felt the Fern Glade had a 25% mortality rate with the more moisture sensitive Maidenhair and Royal ferns the hardest hit. (3) Temperatures in the Spring were average but precipitation was less than normal.

The deer that had been in the Garden during the winter and spring had returned. (2) One that returned was a 3-legged doe who gave birth to a single fawn in the spring, both of which then remained in the Garden all summer. (3)

A new plan for an improved front entrance was in the works and Dan Hasty presented the plans and new signage for the Garden and new labels for plants. Construction could begin in late summer. It would be completed in 1990. A volunteer recognition function was held on June 6th in the evening at the Martha Crone Shelter. Forty-seven volunteers were on the roster (2).

New Front Gate
The Front Gate after completion of construction that was begun in late 1989. The wood arbor was added in 1992. Photo G D Bebeau

At the board meeting following the annual meeting, officers elected were: Ann Kessen, President; Betty Bryan, Vice-President; Joyce Smeby, Secretary; and Melvin Duoos, Treasurer. (2) Betty Bridgman continued as editor of The Fringed Gentian™, Pat Thomesen as membership chair, Shirley Schultz as volunteer coordinator, Donna Sandstrom as historian and Elaine Christenson as memorials chair.

In the The Fringed Gentian™, President Ann Kessen wrote about her 11 year old son’s experience in the Garden while she volunteered at the shelter. She wrote:

Can a person whose head is filled with batting averages and dinosaur names find enjoyment here for three and a half hours? I needn’t have worried. He has walked the paths three or four times today, map in hand, my binoculars hanging around his neck, feeling quite independent. He comes back and tells me of his sightings: A pair of mallards making their way through the bog, a female cardinal flying across the path, a nuthatch giving its “ank-ank” call. He does not remark on flowers he has seen; flowers are of little interest to him. Birds are another matter. Their movements excite his imagination in ways that the silent blossoms cannot.(4)

Another note of sadness regarding the Crone Family occurred on May 27th when Martha and Bill Crone’s only child, daughter Janet Prevey, was killed in a car accident in Canada, hit by drunk driver. Surviving her were two daughters Linda Prevey Wander and Judy Prevey. A son, David had died previously in a car accident at age 17 on December 14, 1962. Martha had passed away earlier in the year on Feb, 5th.

Note 1: Minutes of Friends Board meeting April 15, 1989
Note 2: Minutes of Friends Board an Annual meeting May 20, 1989
note 3: The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 37 No. 4, Sept. 1989 (PDF File)
note 4: The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 37 No. 2, April 1989 (PDF File)

Summer 1989

Coral Berry
Coralberry (Red Snowberry), Symphoricarpos orbiculatus. Photo G D Bebeau.

Cary George reported that even though rainfall was below normal, the Garden was showing its “resiliency and venerability” by recovering from the drought of 1988. (1) He noted that losses during the summer included a number of Red Oaks that were under stress from the drought and died quickly - most probably attributable to the Chestnut Beetle.

His summer plantings included 15 two-foot Hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) to provide for a second generation of growth in the Hemlock Grove and 30 Red Maples (Acer rubrum) to replace part of the tree canopy lost to Oak Wilt and Dutch Elm Disease. In addition, Silver Buffaloberry( Shepherdia argentea), Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa), Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Red Snowberry (Coralberry - Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), Black Cherry (Prunus pumila), Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum) [species assumed as one of two possible], Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) and Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) were added. (1)

Downy Arrowhead
Arrowhead (Viburnum dentatum.) Photo G D Bebeau

Rainfall was adequate and temperatures were fairly normal during the summer - quite different from the hot dry summer of 1988.

The Friends held a Board Meeting on July 20th at the Shelter in the Garden. Gardener Cary George reported that the two deer were still in the Garden but that a barbed wire extension was added to the top of the Garden fence and that seems to be working to keep others out. (2)

The review in May of the plans for the new front gate to the Garden resulted in requests for a more inviting entrance. These discussions would eventually lead to the design of the current Garden gate shown above. The Friends had been maintaining the display cases in the Crone Shelter as the Naturalists reported they had no supplies, so President Kessen brought a large variety of supplies to the shelter, but Friends members still had to do the updates. The Board voted to spend $100 for a drop-down ladder to reach the Shelter attic and the Park Board Carpenters would install it in the fall.

Martha Hellander was on the east coast doing research for her book on Eloise Butler.

Note 1: The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 37 No. 4, September 1989 (PDF File)
Note 2: Minutes of Friends Board meeting July 10, 1989

Autumn 1989

Butler Farm House
The house on the 2nd Butler farm in Appleton ME. Photo courtesy Martha Hellander.

Martha Hellander returned from her Eloise Butler research trip to the East Coast and made the following report:

I had a heavily-scheduled itinerary of historical societies, people and places. I accomplished all my objectives and made contacts for correspondence. In Massachusetts I reviewed an entire (rare) set of the publication Wildflower, owned by the Arnold Arboretum library. I have found no evidence of any public wildflower garden in the United States founded prior to Eloise Butler’s. I believe it is the oldest. I have found records of Eloise’s attendance at summer and extension courses at Harvard University. In Lynn I found records of Eloise’s years in high school and her graduation.

In Malden MA I met Mary and Frank Tribble, elderly neighbors of Eloise’s sister, Cora Butler Pease; and Frank Cushing, present owner of Cora’s house in Malden where Eloise spent winters after retiring from teaching science in Minneapolis High Schools.

Castine Maine
Coast at Castine ME. where Eloise Butler attended Normal School. Photo courtesy Martha Hellander.

In Maine: I spent five days in Appleton, where Eloise was born; and one day in Castine, where she went to Normal School. In Appleton I had the generous assistance of Theodore Brown, former lawyer and now local historian.

He has become interested in Eloise Butler and her family, who lived down the road from his own farm. He guided me to the farm where Eloise was born and spent the first eight years, with her grandparents’ place just across the road. The owners showed me through both houses, and the fields where Eloise roamed as a child. The “ledgy pasture” through which she walked on her way to school was filled with wild blueberries.

One evening, after I had spent the day searching deeds at the Knox County Recorder’s office, Mr. Brown stayed up until 2 A.M. studying the deeds. He determined that in 1859 the Butlers had moved to a second farm, which we visited the next morning. In the door of the barn we found a board inscribed “O. R. Butler - 1863.” The present owners had never been able to decipher it.(1)

Cary George with new labels
Cary George with the Garden sign files. Signs were 2" x 4" and of routed plastic laminate - weatherproof, impressive and unobtrusive. They maintained a Garden tradition that both common and scientific plant names would always be used. Friends photo.

Cary George reported that the new plant labels he had been using this year were a hit with visitors and a number were stolen. He most often replaced “No Picking” and “Bastard Toadflax.” (1) Cary also began using a new mulch on the Garden paths made from cedar shavings. Not only would it have a good aroma and provide a cushion for walking but would be less likely to float away in a rain.

The source was from the shaping of utility poles. When utilities ordered poles of a certain diameter, the bark was removed and then the wood was shaved down to the required size. Cary would get a large truckload of shavings to cover the Garden season.

Mary Maguire Lerman, the Park Board Coordinator of Horticulture Programs, reported to the Friends that the new Garden signage for the entrance drive, parking lot, front gate, back gate and front entrance would be done, most probably placed in the spring. During the winter, the carpenters would finally replace the 4 bridges in the bog with new cedar bridges. The large bridge over the main water channel would have a railing and would replace an old dock that was made into a bridge and three small bridges without rails would replace concrete bridges over the other sections of the water channel. [Note: All four bridges were again replaced in 2015 with a boardwalk.]

Cedar shavings
The seasonal stockpile of cedar shaving used to cover Garden paths, used for the first time in 1989. Photo G D Bebeau

Beginning in October the roof of the Crone Shelter was replaced. A large dead oak behind the shelter needed to be removed first and then others with overhanging branches would be trimmed. The carpenters also ordered the staircase ladder that the Friends funded. (1). The Garden Naturalists who worked during the season were Dawn Doering, Marcia Holmberg, Nancy Niggley, David Rafferty, Karen Schik and Stephanie Torbert.

The Naturalists provided a report in The Fringed Gentian™. (1) Fall programs continued through the month of October with the Garden closing on the last day of the month.

At the fall board meeting of the Friends on October 21st, there was discussion about driving the remaining two deer from the Garden with a sweep in November. Volunteers were requested to help Cary George and the Park Board staff. (2)

The use of the bequest of $1,000 received from the estate of Marian Grimes in 1988 had been discussed for months and it was now decided that a birdbath for the upland Garden would be the most appropriate use. Board member Geri Benavides was going to put the plan together. A design committee was put together to rework the front gate design.(2) Cary George had expressed the thought - “I hope enough money can be found to add a wooden archway so that visitors may symbolically enter into the Garden.” (1) That too, would be accomplished in 1992.

September and October were very dry. The year would end with annual precipitation of less than 24 inches, well below normal. In November a peat fire was started in the marsh when Cary and other workers were burning brush piles. It took a day of digging and then spraying with water to put it out.

Note 1: The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 37 No. 4, September 1989 (PDF File)
Note 2: Minutes of Friends Board meeting October 21, 1989

Photo top of page: The wetland in April. 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. 37, # 1, March 1989, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 39]

Vol. 37, # 2, April 1989, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 39]

Vol. 37, # 3, July, 1989, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 39]

Vol. 37, # 4, September, 1989, Betty Bridgman, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 39]

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. "" - 091421