New Back Garden Fence

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

Winter 2004/2005

Susan Wilkins
Garden Curator Susan Wilkins in the Garden. Friends photo.

Susan Wilkins’ second year as Garden Curator.

During the winter months Susan was completing planning for the restoration of Hepatica Hill. Begun by Eloise Butler and furthered by Curator Martha Crone, the hillside on the Woodland’s eastern facing slope had been selected years earlier to showcase a large planting of Hepatica. Over the many years since the first plantings, plants have died out and the loss of tree canopy due to Dutch Elm disease changed the habitat to a sunnier spot causing further loss of plants. Susan planned to add a large number of Hepatica during the upcoming spring season. [Article with historic photos]

Another project nearing completion was the Ken Avery Birding Area - a project designed and funded by the Friends in honor of former Gardener Ken Avery who served in that position from 1959 to 1986, succeeding Martha Crone. The space selected is on a flat plateau half way between the Woodland and Upland Garden on the back trail. The site would have 3 benches and a birdbath, surrounded by selected planting. The Friends paid $590 for a boulder on which to carve the birdbath and on which to mount a plaque for Ken Avery; and then $4,914 for engraving, benches, plants and landscaping.

Bill Toivonen
Bill Toivonen in the Martha Crone Shelter. Friends photo.

In the Friend’s newsletter, the Fringed Gentian™, (Vol. 53 #1) both of these projects were described. The newsletter contained an article by Constance Pepin about Ken Avery. Friends’ board member Harriet Betzold published some of her drawings of birds (Photos).

A life-long member of the neighborhood of the Garden, and Garden visitor, William Toivonen (age 94) wrote a short article about the Garden area in earlier years.

Friend’s President Steve Pundt led off the issue with commentary about the natural buffer zone around the Garden that had been established by the Park Board years earlier (1964)(Friends Preservation Proposal of 1980) but was now being encroached upon by various outdoor activities, contrary to the original intent of the buffer zone to leave the area in its natural state. It would another 7 years before peace and quiet once again surrounded the Garden.

The weather during the winter was milder than average with less snowfall (about 35 inches). February had a number of above average daily temperatures with several days around 50 degrees. Snow melted rapidly but March did have two large snowfalls of 9 inches and 5 inches.

Spring 2005

hepatica hill historic photo
Hepatica Hill in the days of Martha Crone. Photo from a Kodachrome by Martha Crone taken April 16, 1955.

Susan Wilkins added over 1,000 native plants in the spring, primarily for her restoration of Hepatica Hill where 630 were added, around the new Ken Avery Birding Terrace, and near the Shelter entrance. Three important plants added included Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata) and especially Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica), which had been in the Garden at Eloise Butler’s time, then died out and were replanted by Cary George several times, as recently as 2002, but they too died out. The third was Fringeleaf Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis), which was a plant Martha Crone added in 1947.

In The Fringed Gentian™, (Vol.53 #2) the Garden Naturalists, Jodi, Diana and Erica provided notes on spring happenings in the Garden and specially noted that the Garden opened with warm weather with temps in the 50s and 60s the first week of April. Spring bloom was very good.

Friends’ President Steve Pundt announced the dedication date for the Ken Avery Birding Terrace would be June 19th. Naturalist Tammy Mercer wrote an article about the Garden being A Great Place for Birding. Photos of people in the Garden on opening day were printed.

Fringeleaf Wild Petunia
Fringeleaf Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis). Photo G D Bebeau.

The Friends held their annual meeting on May 21st at the Martha Crone Shelter in the Garden. The Board of Directors elected for the coming year were: Gary Bebeau, J. Stephen Benson, Harriet Betzold, Joy Davis, Susan Dean, Launa Ellison, Kathleen Connelly, Ann Godfrey, Larry Gravitz, Lyle Johnson, Lisa Locken, Constance Pepin, Sally Pundt, Steve Pundt, Jim Proctor (new), Joe Schmidt (new), Phoebe Waugh (new), Pam Weiner. Leaving the board this year were Marguerite Harbison, Juanita Lussenhop, Shirley and Jack Schultz.

Reelected as officers at the following Board meeting were Steve Pundt, President; Pam Weiner, Vice President; Gary Bebeau, Treasurer. Phoebe Waugh was the newly elected Secretary. Continuing in positions were: Joy Davis as membership chair; Harriet Betzold as volunteer coordinator; Lisa Locken as newsletter editor; Constance Pepin as historian. Gary Bebeau took over memorials chair.

Susan Wilkins reported that another five oaks had been lost to Oak Wilt and that buckets of Garlic Mustard had been removed. A new tree inventory based on a GIS system was taking place in the Garden this spring before the canopy leafed out.

Author Judy Bridell was in attendance to discuss the book she was working on - Going Wild with Eloise Butler - aimed at 7 to 10 year olds - about the early life of Eloise Butler.

Planning continued for the dedication of the Ken Avery Birding Terrace in June and there was much discussion about the buffer zone around the Garden and multitude of uses that it was subject to, all of which were severely damaging the area as a buffer zone. President Steve Pundt wrote a summation of the issue in the summer newsletter (Vol. 53 #3)

Summer 2005

Muriel Avery
Muriel Avery attending the dedication of the Ken Avery Birding Terrace - in honor of her late husband Kenneth Avery. Friends photo.

The Ken Avery Birding Terrace was dedicated on Sunday, June 19, 2005 with Muriel Avery (Ken’s widow), former gardener Cary George, Former Park Board Foreman of Horticulture Dan Hasty, Park Commissioner Vivian Mason, and many others in attendance. Details about the terrace HERE. The dedicatory plaque, designed by the Friends read as follows:

Ken Avery Birding Terrace
In Grateful Remembrance of
Kenneth E. Avery
Garden Curator, 1959-1987
“I fell in love with what I found here.”
Dedicated June 19, 2005
Friends of the Wild Flower Garden

Total cost funded by the Friends for the terrace was $5,504.

In the Fringed Gentian™, (Vol 53 #3) President Steve Pundt wrote a summation of the Buffer Zone issue confronting the Garden. It would be a number of years before the issue was resolved.

Avery Birdbath plaque
The dedication plaque which is mounted on the side of the boulder-birdbath seen in the larger photo.

Garden Curator Susan Wilkins wrote an article titled “Cherishing Orchids, an Eloise Butler Legacy." She added information about a rescue mission in June that secured some Showy Lady’s-slippers for the Garden.

Naturalist Tammy Mercer wrote an article on The Rewards of Summer Birding. Photos from the Avery Terrace Dedication were also published. The Garden Naturalists, Jodi and Christine published some early summer Garden highlights including the note that Comfrey was growing well - it has since disappeared from the Garden. Weather in June was warm and wonderful, July and August had abundant rain.

Minneapolis/StPaul Magazine ran a full page about the Wildflower Garden and a full page about curator Susan Wilkins.

Below: The Ken Avery Birding Terrace. Photo G D Bebeau.

Avery Birding Terrace

Autumn 2005

Tree Mapping
Kunde Company staff mapping the tree population in Eloise Butler with GPS in 2005. Friends photo.

The Friends held a Board of Directors meeting on October 10, 2005 at the Golden Valley Historical Society. Committee reports were presented and President Pundt reported on the Garden activities in Susan’s place as she had just married and was off work for a few days. More Buckthorn had been removed from the Garden as an Eagle Scout project. There was concern about safety in the Shelter as a man had come in the back door unexpectedly and the police had to be called. A second panic button was installed and the city police were to stop daily at the Garden.

The Board voted to have a picture of Cary George added to the wall with the previous three curators. A 100th Garden Anniversary committee was formed for the 2007 celebration. Ideas were presented for a Friends’ website. Mary Jo Shifsky attended the meeting as she had become involved with volunteer coordination over the summer months to help Harriet Betzold. Neither would be continuing next year but Ann Godfrey agreed to be volunteer coordinator in 2006.

A special meeting of the Board was held on November 21st to discuss the Garden Buffer Zone concerns and the Park Boards response. The minutes are in this PDF file.

The new wrought iron back fencing, 294 feet, matching the front Garden fence, was completed at a cost to the Friends of $15,256. [photo at top of page] In addition to funds raised for this project (which was a 2002 Friends’ 50th Anniversary Project, and funds raised for the Ken Avery Birding Terrace, the Friends’ investment account was tapped for $18,000 help with the funding.

Kids at Garden Shelter
Children learning to be Naturalists at the Martha Crone Shelter. Friends photo.

In the fall issue of The Fringed Gentian™, (Vol.53 #4) President Steve Pundt wrote a continuation article about the Buffer Zone issue confronting the Garden. In addition Constance Pepin and Pam Weiner wrote “The Friends’ Vision for South Wirth Woods.”

Curator Susan Wilkins wrote extensively about the tree mapping program taking place at the Garden. The tree inventory based on a GIS system had found 777 trees in the Garden over 8 inches in diameter. Forty volunteers for the season were recognized. Launa Ellison contributed an article about Children as Naturalists.

A luncheon for volunteers was held on November 12 at the Golden Valley American Legion. Marguerite Harbison organized the event.

Fall weather was average for temperature but after a 4.62 inch rainfall in early October, precipitation was modest. There was little snow until late November.

The Garden closed on Oct. 15, as has been the schedule since 2000. Unlike the previous year it was not open weekends for the remainder of October due to budget issues.

Photo top of page: The new wrought iron fence at the back garden gate, funded by the Friends in 2005.

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.

Photos by Martha Crone are from her collection of Kodachromes that was given to the Friends by her daughter Janet following Martha's death in 1989.

Archive of the Friends Newsletter The Fringed Gentian™

Vol. 53, # 1 Winter 2005, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 53, # 2, Spring 2005, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 53, # 3, Summer 2005, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 53, # 4, Autumn 2005, 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. "" - 011321