50th Anniversary Friends group

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

Winter 2002/2003

This is the 17th year with Gardener Cary George in charge of the Garden.

The lack of snow at the end of 2002 was a pattern that continued into 2003 until early February when snows returned until mid-March, after which the ground was snow free.

In The Friends newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™, president Steve Pundt reviewed some of the history of the Friends and discussed the planning of a project in remembrance of former Gardener Ken Avery who died in 1997. A birding observation platform was contemplated near the front entrance to the Garden. The committee charged with the project consisted of Cary George, Ann Godfrey, Marguerite Harbison, Constance Pepin and Steve Pundt. They were meeting with landscape architect George Watson to determine a design.

When completed in 2005, the result was the Ken Avery Birding Terrance, located at the back of the Garden, not the front, half way between the lower and upper elevations.

Friends Anniversary booklet
The cover of The Friends 50th Anniversary Booklet, issued in Jan. 2004.

Progress on this project was discussed at the Board Meeting of The Friends held on January 6th along with another endeavor underway which was the production of The Friends Fiftieth Anniversary Booklet - 50 Years of Friends, which was a summary of last year’s 50th Anniversary events and interviews with Friends that recorded their remembrances of years past. It was expected that the booklet would be printed by the time the Garden opened on April 1st.

This year was the 50th anniversary of The Fringed Gentian™. The original issue of January 1953 was reprinted as part of the current issue. Friends founding member and 2nd Garden Curator, Martha Crone, was the original editor, a post she kept for 74 issues from January 1953 through June 1971. ( pdf of 1st issue)

In the current issue of the newsletter, Cary George wrote “A Kit Dies in the Garden” which poetically recalled his experience two years prior when a dying fox kit was found separated from its three siblings. Also in that issue, Aldo Leopold’s book The River of the Mother of God was reviewed. (pdf of issue)

2003 was Cary George's last year as Gardener, completing 17 years of service to The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary.

Spring 2003

Cary George with  Twinleaf
Gardener Cary George with an example of Twin Leaf (Jeffersonia diphylla). Friends photo.

Cary George reported that the Garden was the home of 14 plant species on the State Endangered Species list. The plants included: Kitten-tails (Besseya bullii), Dwarf Trout Lilies (Erythronium propullans), Shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia), Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), Snow Trillium (Trillium nivale) and Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla). Three ferns are listed: Marginal Shield Fern (Dryopteris marginalis), Goldie’s Fern (Dryopteris goldiana) and Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides). Four woody plants: Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), and Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). In addition, the state flower, the Showy Lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium reginae) is protected.

Steve Pundt Speaking
Friends President Steve Pundt speaking at the May 12th 2002 Friends 50th Anniversary event. Friends photo.

In The Fringed Gentian™, extensive coverage was given to the largest issue affecting the Garden at this time, which was the budget difficulties of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Cuts in state funding and other taxation issues resulted in a major budget reduction for the Parks system this year and for 2004. Friends president Steve Pundt requested members to contact their park commissioner to plead for the Garden's budget. President Pundt wrote a letter to the Park Commissioners about issues of concern for the Garden, particularly the establishment of mountain biking trails and ski trails in the buffer zone of the Garden. He wrote that

We feel strongly that mountain biking would be detrimental to the natural environment and inconsistent with current public use of this south area of Wirth Park.

The letter was copied to the membership (pdf copy).

Newsletter editor Lisa Locken caught a photo of the three new fox kits near their den in the Garden (pictured in the newsletter issue). The Garden Naturalists gave a comprehensive phenology of the first five weeks of the Garden season including the sighting of a Cooper’s Hawk. Elsewhere in the newsletter, there was a book review of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac and Harriet Betzold (Friends past president 1994 - 1996) was the subject of “Meet the Volunteers.”

The Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden was held at the Martha Crone Shelter in the Garden, on May 17th. Park Commissioner Vivian Mason reviewed the activities of the Park Board. Parking meters would be installed in the Garden parking lot in June. Parking permits would be available for purchase - good at all parks - to avoid having to pay the meters.

Lisa Locken
Lisa Locken, Friends newsletter editor in the Garden. Friends photo.

Elected to the Board for the coming years term were: Gary Bebeau, Stephen Benson, Harriet Betzold, Joy Davis, Launa Ellison, Ann Godfrey, Marguerite Harbison, Lyle Johnson, Lisa Locken, Juanita Lussenhop, Constance Pepin, Sally Pundt, Steve Pundt, Jack Schultz, Shirley Schultz, Pam Weiner and Cary George ex officio.

At the Board of Directors meeting following the annual meeting, there was discussion about the Mountain Bike Trail development in Wirth Park and the current problem of off-trail use. There was a production delay in the Friends 50th Anniversary Book and it was not yet available. The committee working on a design for a tribute to former Gardener Ken Avery was still meeting with landscape architect George Watson on designs. Construction of the new back gate fence which the Friends were funding was still in limbo as to when the Park Board planning people would finish the design. Gloria Miller was recognized for her years of service to the Friends, including two stints as president (1986-88 and 1997-99). Membership was reported to be 246, which included 17 new members and 7 life members.

Officers elected at ther board meeting were Steve Pundt, President; Pam Weiner, Vice-president; Gary Bebeau, Treasurer; Juanita Lussenhop as Secretary. In continuing roles, Lisa Locken was newsletter editor, Joy Davis was membership chair, Marguerite Harbison was memorials chair; Harriet Betzold was volunteer coordinator and Stephen Benson was head of the money management committee.

Weather: Temperatures were above the norm in April and May was a very wet month - but a good start to the season.

pdf copy of The Fringed Gentian™, Spring 2003

Summer 2003

Cary George
Cary George counting the tree rings on the old butternut that was downed on June 23rd. Friends photo.

In The Fringed Gentian™, President Steve Pundt wrote about the Summer Solstice and in the inside pages, editor Lisa Locken published photos (two shown below) that she took in the Garden at the exact time of the Solstice. Notes about the Friends annual meeting that was held in May were published.

Gardener Cary George followed up on his spring article about rare plants in the Garden with an article on the Garden’s tree canopy and the four woody plants in the Garden that are listed on the State’s “Special concern” list. These four are Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), and Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis).

Summer solstice in the Garden
At the moment of the Summer Solstice, June 21, 2003: Led by Naturalist Joy, the group walked amid thousands of wild blue indigo and many other blooming flowers in the Prairie Garden. Friends photo.

One reason for the concern about these plants is that all are at the edge of their hardiness zones. Cary considered the Eastern Hemlock stand in the Garden to be the southernmost stand in the state (Hemlocks were first planted in the Garden by Eloise Butler in 1911). However, the plants at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum match the southern location, although they are not as old as those in the Garden. The last mature Butternut tree in the Garden succumbed to blight and storm damage during a storm the evening of June 23. Cary George estimated its age to be 100 years.

Friends Board Member, Past President, and volunteer Gloria Miller added an article titled "The Garden as Therapist." She noted:

I sometimes wonder how many people realize the healing power of gardens? They can soothe, comfort and energize us with their beauty, if we just let them.

The book Gardening with Prairie Plants was reviewed and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Garden naturalists Jodi, Diana, Scott and Elaine provided some phenology - "Summer Garden Highlights" in which they mention the storm that downed the butternut and the public excitement in seeing the indigo buntings up on the prairie.

Weather: Summer weather was fairly typical, plenty of rain until August. The storm in June mentioned above dropped over two inches of rain.

Summer 2003 issue of The Fringed Gentian™

Summer Solstice group in the garden
Naturalist Joy pictured (center) with a few members of the group who began the Summer Solstice hike with an informal presentation. The hike took place at the moment of the Summer Solstice, June 21, 2003. Friends photo.

Autumn 2003

Cary George
Cary George announces his retirement in the autumn of 2003. Friends photo.

The most important news of the autumn season was the announcement by Gardener Cary George that he was retiring at the end of the year after 29 years of work for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and 17 years of that at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden.

Two years prior in an article published in The Friends’ newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™, Cary wrote about the Garden saying:

The Garden is more than a remnant of what Wirth Park used to be. It is different geographically. It also has a transcendental spirit. Has Wirth Park been lost to invasive plants and a labyrinth of eroded trails made by kids and young adults on expensive mountain bikes? Maybe, but I trust the Garden. Yes, it’s being squeezed by a consumer-oriented world, but in the end there will always be the Garden. The Garden is non-materialistic. It is a humble, modest place, unaffected by affluence.

You can read the entire article here (pdf Vol. 49 #3) or in our biographical sketch of Cary George. In the current issue of The Fringed Gentian™ he announced his retirement and said:

As many of you already know, this is my last season as Gardener at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. After 29 years as a gardener for the Minneapolis Park Board the time has come for a change. Retirement is a word that has a pejorative, almost funereal tone, yet one of the many gifts the Garden has given me is a realization that new things always emerge from the ephemeral. I have confidence that the Environmental Department will choose a successor who will husband the Garden well; someone who understands the legacy begun by Eloise Butler and nurtured through the stewardship of those that followed.

I will be back next year to assist the new gardener. Much information can only be accurately transferred orally: Where wildflowers are planted, topographical changes, archeological remnants, and an introduction the cast of characters both human and non-human to whom the Garden belongs. This seems like a perfect transition. As we all know, a garden is never done. This incompleteness, this imperfection is really the secret to the Wildflower Garden’s beauty.

You can read the entire article here (pdf Vol. 51 #4) or in our biographical sketch of Cary George. In that same issue Friends' President Steve Pundt remarked:

Thank you, Cary, for your insight, your knowledge, your dedication and your good work for all those years. You feel it was the perfect job for you, and we feel you were perfect for the job.

Avery Birding terrace
The Ken Avery Birding Terrance completed and dedicated in 2005. Photo G D Bebeau.

Elsewhere in that issue, volunteer coordinators Shirley Schultz and Harriet Betzold thanked the 33 individuals who volunteered at the Martha Crone Shelter in 2003. MPRB Naturalist Tammy Mercer wrote an article on Bird Migration and Friends member Kathleen Connelly wrote about Bees: Wildflowers’ Best Friends. The book Wild Woods Guide - From Minnesota to Maine, the Nature and Lore of the Great North Woods was reviewed. There was also a phenology report by the Garden naturalists that covered the highlights of September.

At the Friends board meeting on October 13th at the Golden Valley Historical Center. The various topics covered included the following:

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

A volunteer luncheon was held on November 8 at the Golden Valley American Legion Club, organized by Marguerite Harbison, Harriet Betzold and Nita Lussenhop.

The Shelter in the Garden closed weekdays for the season on October 15th, which had become the seasonal closing date in 2000 due to budget constraints; this followed many years when the closing was on October 31st. It would, however, be open on weekends until the end of October - a schedule continued in future years.

Weather in the autumn of 2003 was typical for the season. Rainfall was spotty in September and October. There were two significant snowfalls - one of 5.5 inches in November and one of 9.5 inches in December, but warm temperatures in late December melted almost all of it.

2003 Volunteer Luncheon
At the 2003 Volunteer Luncheon, l to r: Joy Davis, Ann Godfrey, Sally Pundt, all volunteers and Friends Board members. Friends photo.

Photo top of page: A gathering of Friends in the Garden for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden held a year prior on May 12th 2002. L to R back row: Gloria Miller, Otis Godfrey, Steve Pundt, Pam Weiner, Constance Pepin; front row - Betty Bryan, Ann Godfrey, Lisa Locken.

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 the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden.

Archive of the Friends Newsletter The Fringed Gentian™

Vol. 51, # 1 Winter 2003, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 51, # 2, Spring 2003, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 51, # 3, Summer 2003, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 51, # 4, Autumn 2003, 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. "https://www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org" - 011221