Fall color in the Upland

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

Winter 1995/1996

Cary George
Cary George at the Garden. Friends photo.

This is the tenth 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.

The Friends held a Board meeting on March 21st at Golden Valley City Hall. Some of the mail received at the Friends post office box appeared to have been tampered with and it was discussed moving the box from Lowry Ave. to another post office. Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (the Park Board) Naturalist and Friends member Cathy Baldwin had been in the process of creating a history album and after having been forgotten about for years, an old history written by Martha Crone was found in the Shelter attic. It was discussed adding this original document to the history. It is unclear why this document had been forgotten as it accompanied Martha’s 1951 Garden Census and writer and Friends member Martha Hellander had also retrieved it and other important papers from the Crone family home after Martha Crone died (see 1989). [PDF of 1971 Crone history] [PDF of 1951 Crone plant census]. Cary George reported that the Garden would probably open late as there was snow and ice everywhere plus a ton of debris from a winter ice storm.

There was a deep cold-snap in late January into February with the temperature reaching -32 degrees F in February in the Twin Cities. A historic all-time low of -60 degrees F was recorded at Tower Minnesota on Feb. 2. There was snow cover to protect the plants and even with a late March snowstorm of almost 7 inches, the Garden opened only several days late.

Spring 1996

In the spring issue of the Friends’ Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™, Cary George reported that it was the coldest spring in 21 years and the the plants would all be late in emerging. Three more Red Oaks had to be removed during the winter due to oak wilt. This issue of the newsletter was the last issue by editor Diane Reindl.

Joy Davis
Joy Davis, new board member and new Membership chair. Friends photo.

The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden held their annual meeting on Saturday May 18, at the Martha Crone Shelter in the Garden. Former Friends Board member and president and Eloise Butler Wildflower Gardener Ken Avery was in attendance.

Directors elected were: Steve Benson, Harriet Betzold, Joy Davis (new), Mel Duoos, Marguerite Harbison, Juanita Lussenhop (new), Jack Lynch, Gloria Miller, Lon Miller, Steve & Sally Pundt, Kaye Rudberg, Shirley & Jack Schultz, Lola Wheeler.

Elected to their offices at the Board of Directors meeting: Harriet Betzold, President; Jack Lynch, Vice-President; Juanita Lussenhop, Secretary; and Jack Schultz, Treasurer.

Treasurer Jack Schultz reported that there was about $50,000 in the bank accounts.

Jeff Lee
Jeff Lee, Manager of Environmental Operations for MPRB, shown here in a 2004 Friends photo.

In committees, Shirley Schultz was Volunteer coordinator, Joy Davis became the new membership chair; Gloria Miller, Historian; newsletter editor still vacant, but Barb Milligan who was not a director took over at the end of the year; Liaison to the Park Board, Steve Pundt; and Marguerite Harbison was memorials chair. 44 volunteers were on the active list. 244 persons on the membership list, a nice increase from last year.

Jeff Lee, Manager of Environmental Operations for the Park Board was present and discussed recent organization changes at the Park Board.

It was also noted that the natural spring in Wirth Park (Great Medicine Spring) was starting to come back. It had been severely affected by the I-394 construction. Cary George said it takes 3 minutes to fill a gallon. Ken Avery added that the spring never did run well and would the Friends consider adding a pump? (see 1999 for the full story of the attempt to rejuvenate the spring) The only use for the small parking lot near the spring was for water gatherers and otherwise it was a site for troublemakers which Ken Avery had remarked on back in 1965. Cary added that the new 1993 prairie addition renovation work was virtually complete and that he had a lot of help from Americorp in completing it. A new parking lot payment kiosk was installed by the Park Board and Cary noted that the payment requirement had reduced litter considerably.

Summer 1996

During the summer the Upland Garden paths were re-routed into the new prairie addition and the old ones closed off.

Below: The Garden back gate, seen here in 2008. Some of the surrounding stonework was completed in 1997 and about 70 feet of the wrought iron fencing around the gate was added then also. The remaining lengthy extension of fencing east and west of the gate was added in 2005. Photo G D Bebeau

back gate

With the summer issue of The Fringed Gentian™, Barb Milligan became Gentian Editor. In that newsletter the Garden naturalists wrote about the best time to visit the Garden and also about interesting examples of insects helping other insects.

Memorial Chair Marguerite Harbison reported that a new memorials book was placed in the shelter on the table so visitors could read and be encouraged to make memorials. In the mid-2000s it disappeared as had, years previously, the original book from the shelter dedication.

Cary George reported in The Fringed Gentian™:

The mystery of the river otter (Lutra canadensis) continues. This summer, a Garden visitor reported seeing it swimming and catching frogs in the bog pond. All of the sightings over the years have been by knowledgeable visitors or employees, but until we get a photograph it still remains in the "yah -- sure" category for most skeptics. [See 1995 for the first sighting.]

The Friends held a Board meeting on August 1st in the Martha Crone Shelter. Eloise Butler's birthday on Aug. 3rd was celebrated with a cake at the shelter and a volunteer appreciation pot luck was held on Sept. 5th at the Shelter. It was poorly attended so it was discussed later in November whether having it at a cafe or other public facility might be better. Barbara Milligan, the new newsletter editor was given a complementary membership in the Friends.

The summer was very dry. Four more Red Oaks died of oak wilt.

Autumn 1996

membership directory
Friends 1996-98 Membership Directory cover.

The construction of the new north gate at the back of the Garden had been started in 1995 and was to be completed in October of this year, with a retaining wall and fencing yet to be done. So far the cost to the Friends was $12,985, but that included the cost of the new Nordquist Fountain in the Upland Garden, completed in 1995, and about $2,000 of that cost came from a memorial from the Nordquist family. Some additional new wrought iron fencing would be added around the new gate but not until 1997. The rest of the old cyclone wire fence still remaining along the Garden’s north boundary was retained and then replaced by the Friends in 2005.

The first annual photo contest was successfully held in the Garden, sponsored by the Garden Naturalists and the Park Board.

Cary George reported about the various general types of bees you would find in the garden and the fact that he had been stung so often that he had become sensitized to the venom and was taking a 5 year desensitization set of shots.

Toward the end of the year a new membership directory was mailed to members. The format and cover was similar to the two previous directories. Patricia Thomesen passed away on December 29 at age 62. She was Friends president 1984 and 1985 and then membership chair 1986 through 1990. Like Martha Crone she was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and was past matron of St. Anthony Park chapter 263, O.E.S.

The Friends held a board meeting on Nov. 18th where discussion was about the newsletter and insurance for the Shelter contents belonging to the Friends.

At the end of 1996 the Friends had financial statement assets of $56,700.

Weather: While total precipitation during the year was just above average, there was a lot of snow on the ground in Jan-March and going into fall, there were large snowfalls in November and December and the coming winter of 1996/97 was 30 inches above median in the amount of snow.

Photo top of page: Fall Color in the Upland Garden 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. 44 No. 1 Spring 1996, Diane Reindl, Editor (mislabeled Vol. 46)

- Vol. 44 No. 2 Summer 1996, Barbara Milligan, Editor [mistakenly labeled Vol. 47. No. 1 and dated 1995]

- Vol. 44 No. 3 Winter 1996, Barbara Milligan, Editor [mistakenly labeled Vol. 47. No. 2]

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" - 020621