Garden Gate

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

Winter 1990/1991

This is the fifth year with Gardener Cary George in charge of the Garden.

Betty Bryan
Betty Bryan. Friends photo.

Note: Most 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.

During the late winter months Cary reported extensive work on cutting and burning Buckthorn - attended by friendly chickadees who followed him everywhere.

A committee of Friends Board members, chaired by Betty Bryan, was meeting to update the organizations By-laws. New Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Minnesota. (1) [Both links are PDF files]

The winter of 1990/1991 produced minor snowfalls, leaving only around 5 inches of snow depth at year end which disappeared in early February until replaced by late February/early March storms. Winter snow amounts were right on the average of 43.5 inches. Temperatures were fairly average.

On Theodore Wirth Parkway, the ramp to I-394 westbound was closed permanently forcing motorists leaving the Garden to go back east to Penn Ave or far west to Park Place Blvd. to get onto westbound I-394.

Below: The entrance/exit ramp from Highway 12, which became I-394 and was closed off in 1991.

Garden exit to highway

(1) The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 39 No. 1 May 1991 (all issues mislabeled Vol. 41)

Spring 1991

Prairie Burn
A spring prairie burn at Eloise Butler (photo from a later year). Friends photo.

Cary George did a prairie burn in the spring. He found a new patch of Dwarf Trout Lilies (Erythronium propullans) in the wetland. He reported on the Lady’s-slippers: The Showy (Cypripedium reginae) bloomed a bit early - June 2nd. The Large Yellow Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens) clump by the Crone Shelter disappeared, but he had a reserve clump by the work shed which he would transplant.

Moccasin Flower
Pink Stemless Lady's-slipper - Moccasin Flower - (Cypripedium acaule). Photo ©G D Bebeau.

The Pink Stemless Lady's-slipper, (C. acaule), had diminished to one less vigorous clump and he would no longer attempt to establish plantings of it. He had planted them in 1989 and he like all his predecessors saw that you could not keep them established by transplanting from elsewhere. Eloise Butler had first planted them in 1907 and then almost every year thereafter. Martha Crone continued the project, as did Ken Avery with plantings in 1962, ’64 and '74. But Cary was willing to try with another orchid - Orchis spectabilis, the Showy Orchis, that he planted this spring by the front gate. It is a small plant, but it did not last many years either.

The mosquito hatch was the worst in 15 years due to much rain. Cary reported he planted 480 young trees and shrubs in the Garden and expected a good survival rate due to the rains.

On May 2nd, Catherine (Cay) Faragher passed away. She was President of the Friends from 1969 to 1971 and orchestrated the design and building of the Martha Crone Shelter. (2)

New front gate
The new front gate to Eloise Butler shown in the Fall of 1992 after the upper arbor was installed but before the inscription. Photo ©G D Bebeau

The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden held their annual meeting on Saturday May 18, at the Martha Crone Shelter in the Garden. The new front gate to the Garden welcomed those who attended. The stone work had been completed the prior year. All that was lacking was the wooden arbor for the top, which would come the following year. The funding for this project totaled $9,680.

Directors elected were: Ken Avery, Geri Benavides, Harriet Betzold, Betty Bryan, Elaine Christenson, Sallie Cole, Mel Duoos, Ann Kessen, Connie Bartz-Lavoie, Gloria Miller, Shirley Schultz, Joyce Smeby, Kathryn Stennes.

Re-elected to their offices at the Board of Directors meeting: Ann Kessen, President; Harriet Betzold, Vice-President; Joyce Smeby, Secretary; and Connie Bartz-LaVoie, Treasurer. Betty Bryan as membership chair (Pat Thomesen had resigned), Elaine Christenson as memorials chair, Shirley Schultz as Volunteer coordinator.

Betty Bridgman retired last year as editor of The Friends Newsletter The Fringed Gentian™ and Kathy Stennis was now editor. Kathy initiated the make-up of the Gentian on computer and then printed on recycled paper.

Shirley Schultz reported that 57 volunteers were on the active list. Betty Bryan reported that 202 families were on the membership list.

Shirley Schultz
Volunteer coordinator Shirley Schultz. Friends photo.

On April 7, 1991 the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune published in the "First Sunday" magazine a long article written by Martha Hellander about Eloise Butler and the Wildflower Garden. The Showy Lady's-slipper and an image of a young Eloise graced the cover. [PDF of article and cover (4.7mb)]

cover of First Sunday
Cover of "First Sunday" containing Martha Hellander's article on Eloise Butler.

New by-laws were adopted by the board following extensive work by a committee headed by Betty Bryan, including over 30 meetings. The fiscal year of The Friends was changed to a calendar year by this adoption, but the tax filings were never changed so for state and Federal government purposes, a fiscal year ending on April 30 was still in effect.

Cary George made a presentation on the state of the Garden, especially his plantings around the new front gate to cover the construction effects.

Eloise Butler biographer Martha Hellander attended the meeting and read several excerpts from her book, The Wild Gardener, which was to be published in June 1992 by North Star Press. The Friends had contributed substantially to her expenses in producing the book.

Nineteen species of warblers were observed in the Garden during the spring. Spring weather was a bit warmer than average with plenty of rain.

(2) Annual Meeting minutes for 5/18/1991.

Summer 1991

In The Fringed Gentian™, Friends President Ann Kessen wrote:
For thirteen years I’ve been taking walks in the Garden, looking at the flowers and trees, listening to the birds. In thirteen years I, and my sons, have passed through many stages of life. Through them all the Garden has remained a place for quiet thought, a place in which it’s possible to reflect and contemplate. The Garden will see me walking its' paths again this autumn.

Judy Jones
Friends volunteer Judy Jones. Friends photo.

Gardener Cary George reported planting 12 Large Twayblades, Liparis liliifolia, that he salvaged from an area just off Highway 12. Friends volunteer Judy Jones donated a large clump of Yellow Lady’s-slipper, (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens), from her mother’s home. This helped to replace those that had died out this past spring. Cary planted some near the front gate and some near the shelter. The Park Board Forestry Dept. decided that it would continue its policy of not removing dead trees from Wirth Park unless they were diseased elms or were blocking walking paths. Ecology is enhanced by leaving them to still provide useful functions in the landscape.

Visitors signing the guest book in the Martha Crone shelter this season included 411 from out of town - representing 32 states and 15 foreign countries.

A garden naturalist wrote in the newsletter about goldenrod, commenting that goldenrod pollen is not the cause of hay fever and that the Soldier Beetles (family Cantharidae) frequently found on Goldenrod are good insects to have around.

Summer weather was fairly average for temperature and rainfall.

Autumn 1991

Ann Hall
MPRB Volunteer of the Year Ann Hall (shown here in 2000). Friends photo.

Friends’ volunteer Ann Hall was awarded "Outstanding Volunteer for 1991" by the Park Board. Friend’s volunteers provided 1073 staffing hours during 1991.

The fall issue of The Fringed Gentian™ started off with some notes on "Who Was Eloise Butler" - which topic led in to the publication of Martha Hellander’s book on Eloise Butler - The Wild Gardener.

Leonard Odell
Above: Leonard Odell. Family photo.

Cary George listed the common mammals he has observed in the Garden: Deer Mouse, House Mouse, Short-tailed Shrew, Eastern Mole, Meadow Vole, Eastern Chipmunk, Gray Squirrel; Red Squirrel, Eastern Cottontail, Woodchuck, Raccoon, and Red Fox. He and some naturalists also saw once a River Otter making its way across the patio in front of the shelter and other people have reported a badger and a Canadian lynx in Wirth Park.

On October 4, Leonard Odell passed away. He was the son of Friends founder Clinton Odell and he served on the Friends board from 1960 to 1974. He was re-elected to the Board on April 8, 1974 but following the election he resigned in favor of his sister Moana, who was elected Friends President the following year in 1975.

The first heavy frost came on Sept. 20th. Then came the great snowstorm of 31 Oct. and 1 Nov. when 27 inches accumulated and this was followed by an unseasonal cold with temps retreating to -38 degrees F. November would be the snowiest calendar month in weather history with 46.9 inches of snow.

Photo top of page: The new 1991 front gate to the Garden, shown in the fall of 1992 after the arbor was installed but before the inscription was added. 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. 39, # 1, May 1991, Kathy Stennes, Editor

Vol. 39, # 2, July 1991, Kathy Stennes, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 41]

Vol. 39, # 3, October, 1991, Kathy Stennes, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 41]

Vol. 39, # 4, December, 1991, Kathy Stennes, Editor [Mis-labeled as Vol. 41]

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 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. "" - 020621