Prairie Walkers

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

Winter 1999/2000

This is the 14th year with Gardener Cary George in charge of the Garden.

MaryLynn Pulscher
Above: MaryLynn Pulscher with treasures from the shelter attic. Friends photo.

Following the dry late autumn of 1999, snow began to arrive in December followed by several significant snowfalls in January 2000 including one of 8-1/2 inches. This allowed snow cover for the Garden plants, which was only about two inches at the end of 1999, to accumulate such that snow depth in January and February averaged between 6 and 9 inches. This was good for the plants. A significant warm spurt began at the end of February such that the snow rapidly melted and temperatures were well above average for March.

Cary George
Above: Cary George with the Heritage Black Cherry Tree. Friends photo.

In The Fringed Gentian™ Friends' President Steve Pundt wrote about volunteer activities that would be starting in the spring in the Wirth Park area that would be of benefit to the Garden. MaryLynn Pulscher, Environmental Education Director for the Park Board, wrote about some of the treasures that had been removed from the Martha Crone Shelter attic storage area. Principally books and photographs, these materials were deteriorating in the unheated attic and needed to be removed for conservation and then better storage at the Park Board Operations Center. An examination of the documents was made by a professional from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Some of the books were pre-1900 in date and there were periodicals of a botanical nature from the early 1900s. Several of these treasures were to be displayed in the Shelter during the upcoming spring and summer. Cary George wrote an article discussing the nine “Heritage Trees” that were located in the Garden. These included Mountain Maple, Black Walnut, Jack Pine, Ponderosa Pine, American Wild Plum, Black Cherry, White Oak, Siberian Crabapple, Canadian Hemlock.

At the January Board Meeting of the Friends, held at Golden Valley City Hall, Jeff Lee, Manager of Environmental Operations for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, discussed the Greenway Grant for Vegetation Management that the Park Board had received from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. This grant was to be used to carry out a comprehensive survey of the plant community in Wirth Park, including the Garden. This census would be used to develop long range management strategy for the park.

Pump at Great Medicine Spring
Above: The well head at Great Medicine Spring with the pump installed. Photo G D Bebeau

A report was received from Renner & Sons who had re-drilled the well at the Great Medicine Spring the previous year (see Archive - History - Great Medicine Spring) They addressed the reduction in flow from the spring. During the winter the well had been allowed to flow freely to prevent freezing and now a hand pump was discussed as the practical option to install, which was installed when weather permitted in the spring.

It was voted to purchase a spotting scope for the Martha Crone Shelter and to investigate the cost to purchase five sets of binoculars. During the fall and winter the Park Board replaced the three benches on the path from the front gate down to the Shelter (just the wood parts as the old stonework remains). One of these had been in honor of Dr. Marion Grimes and one a memorial for Harold E. Dalquist. The Friends membership list contained seven life members at this time.

Spring 2000

Showy Lady's-slipper
Showy Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium reginae) Photo G D Bebeau

The Garden re-opened for the season on April 1st but as the weather the first week of April was cold, visitors were few, but those who arrived on opening day were treated to free cookies. Cary George found a deer carcass in the Upland Garden indicating that deer had gotten into the Garden during the winter. Renner & Sons installed the hand pump that the Friends voted in January to approve. Cary George planted twelve new Showy Lady’s-slippers (Cypripedium reginae) and two clumps of Yellow Lady’s-slippers (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens).

Debbie Keynes
Naturalist Debbie Keyes using the new spotting scope purchased by The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden. Friends photo.

At the Friends Board Meeting on April 10th, it was decided to purchase five pair of new binoculars for the Martha Crone Shelter. There was also discussion of replacement of some old railroad ties that lined certain of the paths in the Garden and of replacing the benches in the patio area in front of the Martha Crone Shelter. These maintenance projects would be funded by the Friends but work would not be done until after the Garden closed in the fall to avoid disruption.

Peace Corps workers were working for the Park Board this summer including several days in Wirth Park and the Garden beginning on May 20th when some planting was done in the Prairie area followed by work in Wirth Park repairing trails and removing sumac and poplars.

In The spring issue of The Fringed Gentian™ Friends President Steve Pundt discussed the background of the Great Medicine Spring and the well restoration work being funded by The Friends. (more detail above in "winter").

Judy Jones
Above: Volunteer Judy Jones refilling a bird feeder at the Martha Crone Visitor Shelter. Friends photo.

Cary George contributed an article on “Orchids in the Garden.” He remarked about the Showy Lady’s-slipper “When I walk the bog trail each morning . . . I stop to look at this wild orchid as the sun filters through the dewy bog. Its beauty always amazes me.” Naturalist Tegwin Moye wrote about the Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) and Parks Environmental Education Director Marylynn Pulscher wrote about What Do the Naturalists Do?

It was reported by the Volunteer Coordinators that the list of Shelter volunteers was up to 52 people. Four new members had joined the Friends since January 1st. Friends’ Volunteer Judy Jones was spotlighted in the newsletter for her 10 years of volunteer contribution. She continued to volunteer through the 2009 season.

The Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden was held on Saturday May 20th at the Martha Crone Shelter. Directors elected were: Steve Benson, Harriet Betzold, Joy Davis, Mel Duoos, Ann Godfrey, Marguerite Harbison, George Jaquith, Lyle Johnson, Juanita Lussenhop, Lisa Locken, Gloria Miller, Steve & Sally Pundt, Shirley & Jack Schultz. Ex-officio - Cary George.

Elected to their offices at the Board of Directors meeting: Steve Pundt, president; Lyle Johnson, Vice President; George Jaquith, Treasurer; and Juanita Lussenhop, Secretary.

In committees, Shirley Schultz and Harriet Betzold were Volunteer coordinators, Joy Davis, membership chair; Gloria Miller, Historian; newsletter editor, Lisa Locken; Liaison to the Park Board, Steve Pundt; and Marguerite Harbison was memorials chair.

During the spring The Friends received notice that they would be recipients of an annual grant from the Mendon Schutt Family Fund, courtesy of long time Friends member Elizabeth Schutt. After the cold opening week of the Garden, weather was more normal with good amounts of rain in May and June.

Summer 2000

MPRB Staff naturalists Stephanie and Emily. Friends photo.

The Garden was busy with visitors and tours and programs offered by the Staff Naturalists. This summer there were two full time and 19 part-time naturalists available to work in the Garden and do programs. Several school groups visited and Ann Godfrey, Friends member and Kindergarten Teacher, wrote about her groups visit in The Fringed Gentian™. Gardener Cary George wrote about the Tall Plants in the Summer Garden.

Fallen trees and branches are left where they fall to complete the cycle of life - growth - death - decay that is essential for the processes of the natural world. Naturalist Susan Wilkins (later - Garden Curator) explained that although the Garden is located in the heart of the city, the Garden must conform to the natural cycle of nature in order to retain its distinction as a natural garden.

George Bridgman
Long time volunteer George Bridgman, shown at the desk in the Martha Crone Shelter. Friends photo.

The volunteer spotlight in the newsletter was on George Bridgman who had volunteered for five years (and finally retired from volunteer duties in 2008). George's mother, Betty, was a very active member of the Friends. Four new members joined The Friends since spring. It was announced that long time Friends member and director Mel Duoos passed away on May 29th. Since 1992 he had been handling the mailing of orders for Martha Hellander's book on Eloise Butler, The Wild Gardener. His wife, Barbara took over that task.

The stonework around the back gate, following some re-work from 1997 to this year, was finally competed in June and the Friends paid the Park Board the final cost of $2,034 in July.

Weather was moderate with good rain in June July and August including several rainfalls over two inches.

Kids vivst to Shelter
Kindergartners observing at the touch and feel counter in the Martha Crone Shelter. Friends photo.
an godfrey
Teacher Ann Godfrey who brought the group to the Garden. Friends photo.
Fallen Trees
Example of how fallen trees and branches are left where they fall to complete the cycle of life - growth - death - decay. Photo G D Bebeau

Autumn 2000

Susan Wilkins
MPRB Naturalist Susan Wilkins. Friends photo.

At the September 11th Board meeting of the Friends, it was agreed that the Friends would fund the cost of materials for trail re-construction work that would take place in the fall after the Garden closed. This was not to exceed $4,000. In addition the Friends would pay $2,300 for the new benches to be installed in the patio area in front of the Martha Crone Shelter. These benches match those that were installed by the Park & Recreation Board in the Roberts Bird Sanctuary. Naturalist Susan Wilkins reviewed plans for the new Garden Guide Book which would be available in the Spring of 2001.

Patio Bench
One of three new benches installed in the patio area in front of the Martha Crone Shelter in late fall 2000. Materials paid for by the Friends. Photo G D Bebeau.

Friends member Ann Godfrey and Gardener Cary George (photos above) discussed progress on making nominations for additional Heritage Trees in the Garden. Cary George had earlier written an article on the Heritage Trees in the Garden.

In The Fringed Gentian™, (Vol. 48, No. 4) Friends' President Steve Pundt discussed the Heritage of Eloise Butler; volunteer George Bridgman wrote about the Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) and about the memorial Witch Hazel (photo below) planted in honor of his mother, long-time Friends member, volunteer and Fringed Gentian™ editor Betty Bridgman.

New Timbers on the Paths
New timbers lining one of the Garden paths. These were installed by Tree Trust and the materials paid for by The Friends. Photo G D Bebeau.

Lon Miller contributed his poem “fall equinox;” and the volunteer spotlight was on Ann Hall (photo below) who had volunteered since 1986. Ann was also a past recipient of a Volunteer of the Year Award by Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.

Cary George wrote on two subjects - The Cedar Shavings being used as mulch on the Garden trails (photo below) and on Gentian in the Garden. Cedar shavings have been selected because they are rot resistant and therefore the trails need only be redone about every three years. The cedar comes from making utility poles. After the bark is removed, the poles are milled down to the desired diameter and the resulting shavings are pure cedar, no bark. Other materials were used over the years - Martha Crone used pea gravel, Ken Avery used elm chips. Both were bumpy underfoot and washed down in rain, the elm in even a light rain.

MaryLynn with Guidebook masters
MaryLynn Pulscher, Environmental Education Director for the Park Board, with master design sheets for the new Garden Guidebook, partially funded by the Friends. Friends photo.

A donation made to the Park & Recreation Board of a student’s high school herbarium was highlighted by MaryLynn Pulscher, Parks Environmental Education Director. The 78 year old composition book belonged to Ruby Kent and was donated by her daughter Loris Penrod. The book contained pressings of various plants collected in the “Glenwood Botanical Gardens” (now the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden) along with written notes as to the specimen. This was a botany class project in 1922. The book was displayed in the Martha Crone Shelter in the fall.

Seven new members joined since summer. The Garden closed for the season on October 15th, two weeks earlier than the recent past due to budget cuts. The October 15 closing would continue into the future. The Friends held a volunteer luncheon on November 4th at the the Golden Valley American Legion Club. Friends Board members Marguerite Harbison and Harriet Betzold (Photos below) coordinated the event.

Fall weather was warm and dry with very little rainfall after a two inch rain in early September. In November temperatures dropped to well below normal for the season with several snowfalls in November.

Ann Hall
Volunteer Ann Hall. Friends photo.
Cedar Shavings used for path mulch
The Cedar Shaving used as mulch on Garden paths. Photo G D Bebeau.
George Bridgman
George Bridgman watering the memorial Witch Hazel planted in honor of his mother. Friends photo.
Marguerite and Harriet
Marguerite Harbison (left) and Harriet Betzold (right). Friends photo.

Photo top of page: Walkers in early April in the Upland Garden. 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. 48, # 1 Winter 2000, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 48, # 2, Spring 2000, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 48, # 3, Summer 2000, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 48, # 4, Autumn 2000, Lisa Locken, 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. "" - 020621