October hillside in the upland

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

Winter 1993/1994

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

Note: The 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 winter Gardener Cary George again worked building and maintaining the Parks systems wood duck boxes with the number now maintained by Park employees at 73.

Following the approval vote of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (The Park Board) in December 1993 to enclose an additional acre of prairie within the Garden, Able Fence Company removed the remaining old superfluous fence between the woodland and the prairie and recycled it to enclose the new area, which increased the Garden’s prairie size by 20%. Cary George wrote in The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 42, No. 1):

Now when you stand on the Lone Oak Hill in the prairie the view to the southeast gives you a true sense of this area before the "woodies" invaded. Much work remains to be done. It will take at least two years of Sumac, Buckthorn and cool-season grass removal before any major plantings of native prairie grasses and forbs can be initiated. Still, many prairie wildflowers will self-seed in our expansion and I think it will be a combination of our labor and nature's self determination whose hybridization will symbolize our love of all-too-rare native prairie.

Below: A view toward the East from Lone Oak Hill looking toward the new prairie area. Photo G D Bebeau.

Upland Garden looking east

The background for this project is explained by Friends Board Member Elaine Christenson who worked with Cary on the project:

One of my volunteer projects, with some help from Sallie Cole as Board Members of the Friends, was to sort through hundreds and hundreds of slides taken by Mrs. (Martha) Crone during her tenure as Curator of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. A slide taken in 1954 looking eastward from “lone oak hill” in the Upland Garden, was a view of a treeless rolling hill covered with only the fall grasses. Yet, by 1993 the view from the same hill had become obscured by overgrowth. The old Fruen Mill was completely occluded.

Allan Odell and spouse Grace. He was the eldest son of Friends' founder Clinton Odell. Family photo.

The view from the same hillside was one of sumac and small trees pressed against the fence line. I couldn’t get the beautiful prairie view Mrs. Crone had photographed so many years ago out of my mind. On my walks around the outer perimeter of the Garden I found remnants of the grassy meadow, its size becoming smaller each year as plant growth took it over.

Friends board members Rick Bartholomew and Kathy Stennes met with Assistant Park Superintendent Al Wittman on February 11 to review the Park Board’s recommendations on making the Garden compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

It was the Friends' concern that proposed modifications would destroy the character and experience of this historic landscape. The proposal included adding handrails on steep slopes, reducing the slope of the trails, replacing the trail surface with something slip-resistant and adding signage. The intent of the Garden, established in 1907, was that "wildness be the sole aim and that all artificial appearances be avoided." The Minnesota State Historical Society may be willing to advise the Park Board as to their concerns, but it will be up to the Park Board to make a final determination.

On January 17 Allan G. Odell passed away. He was the son of Friends founder Clinton Odell and a long-time member and supporter of the Friends. His sister Moana Odell Beim was Friends President 1975-76.

Spring 1994

Marginal Shield Fern
Marginal Shield-fern (Dryopteris marginalis) Photo ©G D Bebeau

The Garden opened on time on April 1 as all the snow had melted by mid-March. In the spring issue of The Fringed Gentian™, (Vol. 42 No.1) Cary George listed the 14 plants in the Garden that were on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) list of endangered, threatened, or special concern species. [Link on the name goes to a full information sheet with photos]

By the mid-2000’s Lance Leaved-violet and Kitten-tails would disappear.

The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden held their annual meeting on Saturday May 21, at the Martha Crone Shelter in the Garden with 30 in attendance including former Friends President and Eloise Butler Wildflower Gardener Ken Avery.

Ken Avery
Former Gardener Ken Avery. 1993/94 was his last year on the Friends Board. Newspaper photo.

Directors elected were: Rick Bartholomew, Harriet Betzold, Elizabeth Carr , Mel Duoos, Marguerite Harbison (new), Vi Labelle (new), Jack Lynch (new), Gloria Miller, Lynn Ogren (new), Steve & Sally Pundt (new), Shirley & Jack Schultz, Kathryn Stennes, Lola Wheeler (new), Kathleen Wolgamott, Cary George ex-officio.

Ken Avery left the board this year after being on the Board since 1991 and prior to that, from 1961 to 1986.

Elected to their offices at the Board of Directors meeting: Harriet Betzold President, Rick Bartholomew Vice-President, Elizabeth Carr Secretary, and Jack (Chester) Schultz Treasurer.

In Committees, Shirley Schultz continued as Volunteer coordinator, and Kathy Stennes as newsletter editor. Kathleen Wolgamott became membership chair and Marguerite Harbison became memorials chair. Jennifer Gordon (not a board member) was Historian.

41 volunteers were on the active list. 270 persons on the membership list.

As to Garden projects, the fencing of the new prairie area was done. Fund raising would start for an update to the back gate, a project originally conceived to have been accomplished in 1992 when the fence was re-aligned, but not done due to funds. Cary George reported that Brower and Associates was providing the back gate design pro-bono. Also, Able Fence had submitted a bid for 200 feet of new wrought iron fencing to book-end the new front gate, replacing the old barbed wire cyclone fence. This was installed in 1995 as would the new back gate.

The rational for the new back gate was detailed in minutes of the Friends July 21st Board Meeting:
1) The gardener needs a gate through which a tractor can be maneuvered.
2) The current gate is unsightly.
3) A new gate would provide a real entrance, not a “back door”; a psychological sense of security would probably be attained by having two entrance points of approximately equal importance.
4) An upgraded gate would provide access to the newly renovated mallard pond.

Getting national historic designation for the Garden was worked on. $684 was spent during the year by the Friends on survey work for the application. The Friends formed a committee for this chaired by Rick Bartholomew with Martha Hellander contributing. The committee came up with a set of proposed motions for the Friends Board to consider. Park Board Commissioner Patricia Baker agreed to help. By July the committee issued a report to the Board outlining the steps and estimated costs. [PDF Of Report]

Summer 1994

Cary George noted in the summer issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 42 No.2) that Birders have been making hurried, exciting visits to the Garden since May 21 when an unusual Wormeating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus) was spotted on the west woodland trail near "Station 13." This sighting was included in the "Rare Bird Alert" message. Illegal plant harvesting in the Garden was also a problem.

Squirrel Corn
Squirrel Corn, Dicentra canadensis. Photo ©Elizabeth Parnis, Wisconsin Flora.

Cary listed some plants that he had added in May, some of which were rare: [Link on the name goes to a full information sheet with photos]

Wax Trillium and Painted Trillium were noted on the 1993 planting list also - it is not known if this is a repeat listing or if he planted them two years in succession.

It was noted by several members of the Friends that some of these are not native to Minnesota and should not have been planted as that was contrary to the Friends Garden Maintenance proposals of 1980, but Mary Maguire Lerman, Park Board Horticulturist, stated that while the guideline is to keep to Minnesota plants, they also want to maintain some of the plants that Eloise Butler and Martha Crone had introduced that are popular with Garden visitors.

Nordquist fountain
Fountain dedicated to Dr. Daniel Nordquist, situated at the top of the oak hill in the Upland Garden. Completed in 1995. Photo G D Bebeau.

The Friends held a Board Meeting on July 21st at Brookview Community Center and then had a birthday celebration for Eloise Butler on her birthday of Aug. 3, from 2 to 6 PM at the Crone Shelter.

Memorials of $3,800 received for Dr. Daniel T. Nordquist were going to be used to erect a water fountain in the Upland Garden replacing a plain spigot. He was a researcher at the University of Minnesota and died at age 34 on December 11, 1993. It will be of Lannon Limestone to match the other Garden fountains. Daniel’s brother Tim was building a microscope for the Shelter use. Daniel’s mother Joan Nordquist had already authorized funds for a wood bookcase for the Shelter.

Rick Bartholomew reported that some members of the Park Board did not support the idea of National Registry for the Garden. It was recommended to continue to study the project.

Park Board naturalists at the Garden this year are Kathie Baldwin, Chris Garty, Eric Lindberg, Erik Hahn, Tom Savre, Marcia Holmberg, Stephanie Torbert, and Sara Gallagher.

Autumn 1994

Dwarf Crested Iris
Dwarf Crested Iris, Iris cristata. Gift to the Garden from the National Park Convention. Photo G D Bebeau

The Park Board was host that fall to the National Park Convention, and from that Cary received some potted plants, including Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Common Juniper (Juniperus communis), Steeple Bush (Spirea tomentosa), New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus), Big-leaf Aster (Eurybia macrophylla) and Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata). The latter is interesting in that it had not been in the Garden for years. Eloise Butler first planted it in 1928 and Martha Crone in 1947 and then large quantities in 1951 and 1956. All their plants were sourced from nurseries as it is not native to the upper midwest.

In the Friends’ newsletter for fall, Cary George reviewed Martha Hellander’s book on the life of Eloise Butler, The Wild Gardener. He wrote:

Connie Lavoie
Connie Bartz-Lavoie (left) receiving the Volunteer of the Year award from MPRB Commissioner Patricia Baker. Friends photo.

A part of Minneapolis' history has been saved and illuminated by this biography of Eloise Butler, and while that satisfies most readers who are local history buffs, the book is much more than that. Eloise Butler's life bridges the gap between two centuries (1851-1933). It was a time when the choice of occupations for women was severely restricted. Martha Hellander's book chronicles some of the earliest women's rights issues. Men received degrees from universities while women received teaching certificates from state normal schools. And men were paid significantly higher salaries for teaching the same courses.

Friends member and former board member Connie Lavoie was named the Minneapolis Park Board Volunteer of the Year.

1994 membership directory
The 1994-96 Friends Membership Directory - same format as the 1992-94 directory.

Oak Wilt killed two large Red Oaks (Quercus rubra) in the Garden during the year.

A list of volunteers during the year was published in the winter Issue of The Fringed Gentian™.

This was Kathy Stennes last issue as Editor.

The problem with car break-ins, continued during the year - 31 in 1994, 3 car thefts and one robbery. In the summer of 1993 the Friends had gotten signage installed in the parking lot urging visitors to take their valuables with them. One problem was that most people did not take the time to report the break-ins. The issue would be hard to control until security cameras were installed in the early 2000’s.

A Friends Board Meeting was held on Oct. 20th at Golden Valley City Hall. There was not a quorum so discussion centered on The National Registry project and what was the intention in the Friends’ Mission Statement by “Minnesota’s Native Plants,” especially since there was no written policy with the Park Board about that.

In October the Friends issued a new membership roster to the members. At the time the membership was 246.

At the end of 1994 the Friends had financial statement assets of $52,300.

The year 1994 has just above average precipitation but in late fall there was not much snow and the winter of 1994/95 would bring 30 inches of snow, well below the median for snowfall, with most of the 30 inches falling before December 31st.

Photo top of page: Upland Garden fall hillside. Photo from October 2012 ©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. 42 No.1 April-May 1994, Kathy Stennes, Editor. (all issues mislabeled Vol. 44)

- Vol. 42 No.2 Summer 1994, Kathy Stennes, Editor.

- Vol. 42 No.3 Fall 1994, Kathy Stennes, Editor.

- Vol. 42 No.4 Winter 1994/95, Kathy Stennes, Editor.

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" - 122121