Friends gathering on 50th Anniversary

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

Winter 2001/2002

This is the 16th year with Gardener Cary George in charge of the Garden.

New Timber Path edge
New Timber Edges to the path from the Shelter to the wetland. Photo G D Bebeau

The months of November 2001 to February 2002 were the mildest in local weather history - by more than 2 degrees. From January through late February there were only three days where the temperature was not above the average. There were a number of snowfalls, but they were very light and only in March when the temperatures became more normal did any significant snowfall occur.

Park Board Operations Director and Friends board member Jeff Lee reported that during the period that the Garden was seasonally closed, the rebuilding of the path from the Martha Crone Visitors Shelter to the wetland path was completed. The Friends had funded the materials. The work was done by Tree Trust. (See Autumn 2001 History) Also, all the deer that had been in the Garden the prior year were removed and at the Park Board’s Environmental workday the previous October, a lot of buckthorn was removed.

Front Gate Fencing
Wrought iron fence in the front of the Garden. Similar fence was to be placed at the back gate. Photo G D Bebeau.

This year was the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden. A 50th anniversary committee had been formed in late 2001 and they had met several times prior to a board meeting of the Friends held on January 14th. Two main events would mark the Anniversary: A public celebration at the Garden on Mother’s Day, May 12 and publishing a memory book for a history of the first 50 years.

At the Friends Board meeting there was discussion on the purpose of the Friends and it was re-confirmed that the mission was one of providing education and information about the Garden, and also one of support for the Garden in both a financial and promotional way.

In that light it was decided that as a major 50th anniversary project, the Friends would fund replacing 294 feet of chain-link fence east and west of the back gate of the Garden with wrought iron fencing similar to that at the front gate in order to make the back gate area more esthetically pleasing. This work would cost about $16,000 and a major fund raising effort was needed to accomplish this major project.

Shirley Schultz
Volunteer and Friend's Board member Shirley Schultz. Friends photo.

Discussion was also taking place on a suitable project in remembrance of the Garden’s third curator, Ken Avery. It would be 2005 before the Avery project was completed.

In the Friends newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™, President Steve Pundt revisited the history of Friends founder Clinton Odell and his relationship with the Garden, in an article titled Story of the ‘First Friend.’ Reprinted, was an essay by Clinton Odell about his vision for the Garden. (Text).

Gardener Cary George contributed an article on Evergreens for Future Generations. Nine of the 15 conifers native to Minnesota were represented in the Garden at that time and Cary reviewed their status. MPRB Naturalist Debbie Keyes wrote about Winter Botanizing and the Volunteer Spotlight was on Shirley Schultz, volunteer coordinator and Friends Board Member (photo at right). The entire issue is accessed via this pdf file (Winter 2002, Vol. 50 #1).

Spring 2002

Steve Pundt Speaking
Friends President Steve Pundt speaking at the May 12th event. Friends photo.

The Garden did not open until April 7th due to snow and ice on the paths from the late March snowfalls and five inches of snow on the scheduled opening day of April 1st - a record snowfall for that day. Judy Jones was the shelter volunteer on the actual opening day, a Sunday. After the slow start to April, the weather took a turn upwards with mid-April temperatures well above normal.

Two volunteer training sessions were held prior to the Garden opening. Five new volunteers were recruited. The Friends had a board meeting on April 8th to discuss their upcoming 50th Anniversary celebration, planning for honoring Ken Avery and progress on the project to replace the Garden back gate fence.

Mayor Rybak Speaking
Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak speaking at the May 12th event. Friends photo.

The big event of the Spring was the Mother’s Day Celebration (May 12th) of the Friends 50th Anniversary, held at the Garden. It was a chilly day but many people arrived including Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak, Park Board Commissioner Vivian Mason, Martha Hellander, who autographed her book The Wild Gardener, on the life of Eloise Butler, Clinton B. Odell, the grandson of Friends founder Clinton Odell, and Lynda Wander, the granddaugher of Martha Crone. You can read all the details and see the photos in this article.

In the spring issue of The Fringed Gentian™, Friend’s President Steve Pundt, looking ahead to the next 50 years of the Friends wrote:

As we begin the 51st year of the Friends, we must reaffirm our goal to educate the public (and ourselves) about the preservation of native plants. The Garden as a native preserve is constantly at risk. the Garden is threatened on all sides by alien invaders, with the main threats coming from gypsy months, garlic mustard, buckthorn and deer.

Cary George wrote about the gypsy moth devastation of the eastern states and with the species now found in Minneapolis, it was now knocking at the Garden’s door. Naturalist Debbie Keyes wrote about a Summer Tanager that arrived in the Garden (a rare sighting). The bird was malnourished and it was subsequently determined that it had a fractured bone in the shoulder and wing. It was captured and taken to the Wildlife Rehab Center for care. The “Meet the Volunteer” spotlight was on Gloria Miller, past president of the Friends. The entire issue is accessed via this pdf file (Spring 2002, Vol. 50 #2).

Martha Hellander
Martha Hellander signing her book on Eloise Butler, The Wild Gardener. Friends photo.

This spring Cary George added to the Garden stock Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Spring Beauty (Claytona virginica) and Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana - now -Anemone americana). A big concern of his and the Friends was the harvesting of plants by interlopers in the Garden. It has become a spring-time problem as the plants taken are those that can be considered “greens” and “potherbs.” Cary frequently would confiscate bags of picked plants and ask the people to leave the Garden.

The Annual Meeting of The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden was held at the Martha Crone Shelter in the Garden, on Monday May 13th, the day following the Anniversary Celebration. There was discussion about the Mountain Bike Trail development in Wirth Park and the current problem of off-trail use. Cary George mentioned that the garter snakes and the fox family were back in the Garden - a positive environmental sign.

Directors elected were: Gary Bebeau, Stephen Benson, Harriet Betzold , Joy Davis (membership chair), Launa Ellison, Ann Godfrey, Marguerite Harbison (memorials chair), Lyle Johnson, Lisa Locken (Fringed Gentian™ editor), Juanita Lussenhop, Gloria Miller (historian), Constance Pepin, Steve and Sally Pundt, Shirley Schultz, Jack Schultz, Pam Weiner and Cary George, ex-officio. Harriet Betzold and Shirley Schultz were volunteer coordinators - the last year for Shirley who took over the position in 1984.      Membership totaled 238.

Re-elected to their positions at the board of directors meeting were Steve Pundt as President, Lyle Johnson as Vice-president, Gary Bebeau as Treasurer and Juanita Lussenhop as Secretary.

Below: At the 50th Anniversary Celebration: On the left is Clinton B. Odell, grandson of Friends Founder Clinton M. Odell, holding a painting of his grandfather. On the right is Lynda Wander, Granddaughter of Martha Crone, shown holding a photo of her son walking with his great grandmother, Martha Crone, in the Garden. Friends photo.

Clinton Odell and Lynda Wander

Summer 2002

Launa Ellison
Friends Board member Launa Ellison. Friends photo.

On June 12th, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board passed a resolution to formally recognize and thank the Friends for their half-century of support of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. You can read the entire proclamation in the Summer 2002 issue of The Fringed Gentian™ or HERE.

In the Friends Newsletter, volunteer and Board member Launa Ellison wrote about the many benefits of children visiting the Garden in an article titled “It’s About the Children.” Gardener Cary George wrote about “The Pea Family Thrives in Hot Prairie Sun,” an article you can read in our archive. The book - Weeds of the Northern U.S. & Canada is reviewed; “Meet the Volunteers” spotlights Debbie Norgaard and Joe Schwartz. Garden Naturalists provide excerpts from their log - summer highlights.

Joe and Debby
Volunteers Debbie Norgaard and Joe Schwartz. Friends photo.

Connie Pepin wrote “Mosquito Memories,” a tale of Theodore Wirth’s 1933 Garden visit for the memorial to Eloise Butler and his encounter with the swarms of mosquitos in the Garden. Martha Crone’s reply to him ass classic Crone: “I wish to offer my apologies for the ill manners of my mosquitoes, they are rather difficult to train as each one lives only a short time.” Former Parks Superintendent Charles Doell’s concerns about the use of DDT by the Park Board is also reported in this article also. The entire issue is accessed via the file link below.

Attendance at the Garden was good over the summer. There was a controversy about the Park Board’s proposal to instigate a parking pass fee for Minneapolis Parks car lots.

There was a two week power outage in the Garden due to a lightning strike on a nearby power transformer. There were significant storms during a very wet June, July and August.

Summer 2002 issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (PDF)

Autumn 2002

John Maciejny
John Maciejny leading an identification class in the Garden. Friends photo.

The main Garden project for the Friends this year was fencing. By the end of the year the Friends had collected $2,566 toward the cost of the new wrought iron fence at the Garden’s back entrance - well short of the estimated $16,000 cost. Construction eventually took place in 2005.

At the Friends board meeting on October 7th at the Golden Valley Historical Center, Gardener Cary George reported on the parking pass issue. The controversy about the Park Board’s proposal to instigate a parking pass fee for park car lots was still being discussed. The Board voted to send a letter of opposition to the Park Board and to Mayor Rybak. It eventually was resolved that there would be both meters and spaces for cars with parking passes.

A raccoon stares at the camera in this photo by Lisa Locken.

A volunteer luncheon was held on November 23 at the Golden Valley American Legion Club, organized by Marguerite Harbison, Harriet Betzold and Nita Lussenhop. (photo below)

The plan for honoring former Gardener Ken Avery was coming together in the form of a bird watching area. Board member Connie Pepin had been in contact with Ken’s widow Muriel, and she was in favor of this type of honor. Landscape architect George Watson offered his services in designing the area, the Park Board had surveyed a site between the Garden and the parking lot and Watson was to submit designs to the Park Board for approval. The plan was carried out in 2005.

Board member Pam Weiner was coordinating a group working up designs for the Friends 50th anniversary memory book that would be published the following year.

Betty Bryan
Volunteer and former Friends Board member Betty Bryan. Friends photo.

In the Friends Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™, President Steve Pundt reviewed Eloise Butler’s original concept of the Garden and how the Friends have provided assistance in furthering her concepts. He concluded with:

Maintaining the Garden as a natural preserve won’t happen without active, but gentle, management. Our task for the net 50 years of this organization is to keep working to maintain that delicate balance.

Jean Herzberg
Volunteer Jean Herzberg. Friends photo.

Cary George wrote about “Trees: the Backbone of our Woodland Garden.” He discussed the habitat that the trees provide in the Woodland Garden. For example, while night tracking deer by a crew of the Wildlife Research Center, they counted over 50 raccoons in the Garden. Cary gave the methodology for determining the age of a tree of a given species, finding for instance, that the white oak just inside the front gate to be approximately 185 years old. The center spread of the issue was a contact print of 28 different tree leaves found in the Garden. This was the work of John Maciejny [photo above], a recently retired science teacher and Friends member. This identification key represented half of the species in the Garden.

The Garden naturalists again presented excepts from their Garden Logs. The Book of Herbal Wisdom, Using Plants as Medicine was reviewed. In "Meet the Volunteer," the spotlight was on long-time volunteer and member Betty Bryan. The entire issue is accessed via the pdf file link below.

The Garden closed on October 15th, which since 2000 had become the annual closing date. Jean Herzberg was the Shelter volunteer on that day. The closing signaled the end of precipitation also as from late October to the end of the year there was only a trace of moisture. No snow on the ground at the end of the year.

Nita, Marguerite and Harriet

Above: Volunteer Luncheon coordinators Nita Lussenhop, Marguerite Harbison and Harriet Betzold. Friends photo.

Photo top of page: Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak speaking to the gathering in the Garden for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden held on May 12th. L to R, Martha Hellander, Mrs. Rybak, the Mayor, Lorraine Rybak-Mesken, Park Commissioner Vivian Mason, Friends President Steve Pundt and Clinton Odell III.

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. 50, # 1 Winter 2002, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 50, # 2, Spring 2002, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 50, # 3, Summer 2002, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 50, # 4, Autumn 2002, 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