Spring Birding Group

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

Winter 2005/2006

Susan Wilkins’ third year as Garden Curator.

The Friends held a Board of Directors meeting on January 9 at the Golden Valley Historical Center. A special guest was newly elected 4th District Parks Commissioner Tracy Nordstrom. Former Commissioner Vivian Mason had not run for re-election. Nordstrom's remarks touched on Park finances, ecology of the Parks and the preservation of open space. She was given a one-year gift membership in the Friends.

prairie restoration area

Susan Wilkins discussed planning for the 2007 100th Anniversary of the Garden, plans to restore wetland pool, the renovation of a section of the Upland Prairie Garden - needed due to the removal of some trees in order to retain the character of an oak savanna (photo by G D Bebeau shows the area in 2008 after the renovation and before new planting). Parks Operations Manager MaryLynn Pulscher was working on getting two persons hired to do Buckthorn removal in the area around the Garden.

Friends President Steve Pundt spoke of his meeting with Parks District Manager Paul Hokeness about the buffer zone around the Garden and the position of the Loppett Trail that is used for winter sports.

There were committee reports, more discussion about starting a website, and whether Martha Hellander’s book, The Wild Gardener should be reprinted as only 67 copies are left. Many memorials came in for volunteer Jimmy Young who recently passed away - they now totaled $935. He is pictured in the 2004 text.

Tammy Mercer
MPRB Naturalist Tammy Mercer leading a birding class. Friends photo.

In the Friends newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™, (Vol. 54 No. 1 Winter 2006) Friends President Steve Pundt noted the change of Park Commissioners as explained above; the upcoming 100th Anniversary of the Garden and the work the Board was doing with the Audubon Society to have the Area surrounding the Garden designated as a Minnesota Important Birding Area (IBA).

Susan Wilkins wrote about the coming season and about the creation of Legacy Stewards Volunteer Program where trained volunteers will be responsible for removing specific invasive species for their given area of the Garden for an entire season. This program proved to be successful and was continued in future years.

Naturalist Tammy Mercer contributed an article of "How Climate Change will Affect Birds in Minnesota."

Snowfall in the winter of 2005/2006 was just slightly above the average of 43.6 inches. Toward the end of December 2005, temperatures began to rise significantly above average with January 2006 being the warmest January since 1846. There were no significant snowfalls until March.

Spring 2006

The Garden opened on schedule on April 1

Ann Godfrey
Friends Volunteer Coordinator Ann Godfrey. Friends photo.

The Friends held a Board of Directors meeting on April 10 at the Golden Valley Historical Society. Susan Wilkins reported that several more trees were lost to Oak Wilt, one right by the back door of the shelter. The Park Board allocated $50,000 per year for 5 years toward Buckthorn removal in Wirth Park and the staff that did this was to start in the Garden. Plans were still afoot to restore wetland pool and for the 2007 Garden centennial.

New volunteer co-ordinator Ann Godfrey reported that there was a good staff of volunteers and many days of the season were already signed up.

Book illustration
Judy Bridell's New Book

Children’s author Judy Bridell has written a book for juveniles titled Going Wild With Eloise Butler. It was to be edited by North Star Press this year and published in 2007.

The Annual Meeting of the Friends was held in the Garden Shelter on May 20th. The Directors elected for the coming year were: Emily Anderson (new), Gary Bebeau, J. Stephen Benson, Harriet Betzold, Joy Davis, Susan Dean, Ann Godfrey, Cary George (new), Larry Gravitz, Lyle Johnson, Jeff Lee (new), Lisa Locken, Vivian Mason (new), Jim Proctor, Sally Pundt, Steve Pundt, Joe Schmidt, Phoebe Waugh, Pam Weiner, with Susan Wilkins, ex-officio. Leaving the board this year were Launa Ellison, Kathleen Connolly and Constance Pepin.

Jim Proctor
Jim Proctor (2004 image). Friends photo.

Garden Curator Susan Wilkins reviewed an article about the Garden that was published in _SCAPE, a publication of the Minnesota Chapter of Landscape Architects (MASLA). The article was a sample from a publication of MASLA on 52 sites that the Chapter called “Valued Places - landscape architecture in Minnesota.”

Membership was 279 at the time of meeting, including 11 Life members. President Pundt reported on the meeting of the 100th Anniversary Committee. Members were: Steve Pundt, Sally Pundt, Joy Davis, MaryLynn Pulscher, Susan Wilkins, Gloria Miller, Vivian Mason, Lisa Locken and Emily Anderson.

The annual membership meeting was followed by a Board of Directors meeting at which re-elected as officers were Steve Pundt, President; Pam Weiner, Vice President; Gary Bebeau, Treasurer. Phoebe Waugh, Secretary. Committee positions were: Joy Davis as membership chair; Ann Godfrey as volunteer coordinator; Lisa Locken as newsletter editor; historian - vacant. Gary Bebeau as memorials chair. Money management - Steve Benson, Lyle Johnson, Gary Bebeau, Steve Pundt.

susan Wilkins
Susan Wilkins with intern Tong Xiong. Friends photo.

There was a report by Pam Weiner on the work of the Buffer Zone Committee, their meetings with the Park Board and other groups involved in moving the Loppett trail from its position in the Garden Buffer Zone. A website committee was formed and Jim Proctor presented his idea of forming a volunteer workforce for invasive plant removal around the Garden. This would develop into the Friends Invasive Plant Action Group in 2007.

The old parking lot for the Great Medicine Spring was currently being used as a storage area for woodchips to prevent people from parking there for activities not appropriate to a city park. Discussion was had that the lot should be totally abandoned as woodchip storage was not a great gateway to the Garden approach.

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

In the Friends newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™, (Vol. 54 No. 2 Spring 2006) Garden Curator Susan Wilkins wrote extensively about Garlic Mustard and particularly about the efforts to remove it from the Garden. These efforts would involve the Legacy Stewards (trained volunteers will be responsible for removing specific invasive species for their given area of the Garden for an entire season) and work by interns in the Garden.

A special article - In the Spirit of Walden was written by Friends member Bill Toivonen who lived near the Garden. His made the connection that if Thoreau have visited the Garden area on his Minnesota visit in 1861, would he not have seen something similar to the area of Walden Pond?

Naturalist Diana Thottungal reviewed some of the earliest bloom dates for spring wild flowers. These records were kept by the two prior Gardeners - Ken Avery and Cary George. [Illustrated article]

white throat sparrow
White Throated Sparrow. Photo G D Bebeau.

In the “Bird Notes” article written by the Garden Naturalists Jodi, Erica and Diana, the sightings of the early morning and evening birding walks were reviewed, including the White Throated Sparrow singing its “Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada” song.

March weather started off with a major snowstorm at the beginning of the 2nd week that totaled 16 inches over two days. Temperatures in spring were consistently departing from average into the plus range.

Summer 2006

In The Fringed Gentian™, (Vol. 54 No. 3 Summer 2006) President Steve Pundt noted that the Park Board carried through on their plan to remove invasives from Wirth Park by approving the 5-year plan for doing so. The area around the Garden and the Quaking Bog would be the first to be addressed.

Susan Wilkins with Mountain LaurelSusan Wilkins wrote about the Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia, (pictured - Friends photo) which Eloise Butler had first noted in bloom in the Garden on June 25, 1924 but she had never made a note in her log of when she planted it. It is only found in the SE states so it had to come from a nursery originally. It was still growing there in 2006. Local horticulturists Charles and Betty Ann Addison of Rice Creek Gardens, took cuttings from that original plant and grew them at their nursery. Eventually they made them available to the public after registering it as a distinct cultivar with the International Cultivar Registration Authority under the name K. latifolia ‘Eloise Butler.’ Susan purchased 30 of the plants and put them in various places near the front gate and on the hillside near the original plant.

Summer weather was rainy with above average temperatures. July was the warmest since 1936.

Autumn 2006

The Friends held a Board of Directors meeting on September 11 at which John Akre of Minneapolis Telecommunication Network introduced a video project that his station would be preparing for the 2007 Garden Centennial. Friends Board members would get to speak about the Garden on this video. New board member Emily Anderson was working on grant paperwork to submit to a few selected foundations in hopes of getting more support for the Garden. It was suggested that a new screen door be purchased for the Crone Shelter. This was later approved and installed in 2007.

Board member Jim Proctor has been using small groups of volunteers to clear buckthorn and garlic mustard from around the area of the Avery Birding Terrace.

Marguerite and Harriet
Marquerite Harbison and Harriet Betzold. Friends photo.

On November 18 a volunteer appreciation luncheon was held at the Golden Valley American Legion Club. Ann Godfrey, Harriet Betzold and Marguerite Harbison arranged the event. John Akre of Minneapolis Telecommunication Network did some taping during the event for his video project.

The Friends had revenue of $12,439 for the year. Invested assets were $40,562 at the beginning of the year and $43,937 at the end.

In The Fringed Gentian™, (Vol. 54 No. 4 Fall 2006) President Steve Pundt reported that the Park Board was going to start meetings of the Trail Overlay Advisory Committee, that was formed in July 2005 to address conflicting needs and uses of trails in south Wirth Park. The most concern to the Friends was the location of the Loppet Trail next to the Garden.

The Friends provided $2,000 in funding for purchases of native trees and shrubs for the Garden that were put in this fall. Curator Susan Wilkins wrote about the project which totaled 300 plus plants covering 15 species. She wrote about 3 - Wintergreen, or Partridgeberry, (Gaultheria procumbens); Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens); and Blue Beech (Carpinus caroliniana).

Diana Thottungal

MPRB Naturalist Diana Thottungal (photo) wrote about the colors of fall leaves and how to preserve them.

35 volunteers staffed the Shelter during the season, contributing over 1,000 hours in volunteer time. This does not include the large number of hours spent in invasive removal by Jim Proctor’s newly formed group.

The Garden closed on weekdays on October 15, as usual since 2000, with open days only on weekends through the remainder of October - a practice begun in 2003. Before the Garden closed on the 15th however there were snow flurries, cold wind and a severe frost.

After the cold in October, November was warmer than average but total precipitation was very sparse, little significant snow and no snow depth on the ground at all for the entire fall into the end of the year.

At the time 2006 was the third warmest year in weather history with the warmest January since 1846 and the warmest July since 1936. Total precipitation about 34 inches, was quite a bit above the average of 27.7 inches.

Photo top of page: Spring Birding Group on the Ken Avery Birding Terrace on April 1, led by MPRB Naturalist Tammy Mercer (in white hat). Friends photo.

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. 54, # 1 Winter 2006, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 54, # 2, Spring 2006, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 54, # 3, Summer 2006, Lisa Locken, Editor

Vol. 54, # 4, Autumn 2006, 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" - 011321