2016 begins the 109th year of the Garden, it having been founded on April 15, 1907. It would also be the 64th year for the Friends and Susan Wilkins’ 13th year as Garden Curator.
The first Friends board meeting of the year took place Feb. 22, 2016 at the home of President Pam Weiner. Garden Curator Susan Wilkins reported on off-season work that had been done in the Garden. Several green ash and box elder trees were removed to reduce their number and make way for more appropriate species. More trenching was done in the Fall to control the spread of Oak Wilt, which is still present in the Garden. A new fireplace insert was being installed in the Shelter fireplace, the bathrooms were getting a cosmetic do-over; the boardwalk was repaired where several treads broke due to knot weakness, the shelter needs a new desk and the great horned owls were again sighted in the Garden and are probably nesting nearby.
Most of the same Garden staff would be returning this season with the addition of a seasonal gardener. Kirsten Grohovsky is returning as Education Program Coordinator, as were naturalists Wes Nugteren, Tim Glenn and Jodi Gustafson. Susan would be taking a leave of absence this Summer to have her baby; Sherry Brooks, MPRB Volunteer Coordinator, would fill in.
Melissa Hansen and Jayne Fund manned a Friends table at the recent Wild Ones Conference. Two new members were obtained. More discussion was held on fundraising for the next boardwalk phase and on the idea of more advanced training for volunteers. President Pam announced that she would serve one more year as president so a replacement must be found.
The next Friends board meeting was on April 25 at the Kenwood Park Community Center. The Garden opened on April 1 for the season. Susan Wilkins was there to report, but starts her leave the following week. Three Great Horned Owlets have been sighted in the conifers just outside the Garden fence. There was an early brush burn on the Prairie to keep woody plants under control. Those areas, under the new plan announced last year, would be mowed and treated during the season to further control of sumac and blackberry. A problem occurred with newly planted basswood trees - rabbits liked them. So future plantings would need more protection then is usually done in the Garden.
The Wild Turkeys did considerable damage in the Garden, rooting up many of the new plants put in near the shelter and the boardwalk. Speaking of the boardwalk - it won People’s Choice Award from the Minnesota Society of Landscape Architects.
Over the Winter board member Gary Bebeau prepared a third name plate board for the Eliason Honor Board in the Shelter as space had run-out on the first two boards. He also arranged for the Friends to receive Amazon Smile donations.
Lauren Husting noted that there were a total of 45 volunteers on the shelter docent list this Spring. The FIPAG (Friends Invasive Plants Action Group) have scheduled five garlic mustard pulls beginning on May 7, but students from Blake School have already been there for one pull. Steve and Sally Pundt reported on meetings of the Wirth Park Alliance Group to coordinate strategic planning with the Park Board. This is a community action group that the Park Board solicits comments from.
In the Spring issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 64, No. 1) both President Pam and Susan Wilkins focused on the new Spring season. Gary Bebeau contributed some history notes on past Spring seasons in the Garden. Newsletter designer John Toren wrote about what is on the other side of the Garden gate.
Below: The Martha Crone Shelter with its new shingle roof. Photo G D Bebeau.
The Friends annual meeting, was held at the Kenwood Park Community Center, 21st and Franklin Ave., Minneapolis on Sunday June 5, a later date than usual.
Susan Wilkins could not attend due to maternity leave, but her seasonal replacement, Sherry Brooks filled in. Sherry gave the group her background, update notes on the season’s staff and noted that the Showy Lady’s-slippers had started blooming on May 30 - really early.
Gary Bebeau reviewed the financial information and the website. He presented a listing of all the funds the Friends have spent on Garden related projects since the Friends’ founding in 1952. The total was $284,000. A photo board was presented showing the house where Eloise Butler spent her winters in Malden MA. He also noted that website traffic was 38% above the prior year. The site now had 1,838 pages, all back issues of the newsletter, 11,800 photos, and 44 years of history were complete.
Jayne Funk’s membership report showed 295 members of which 37 were life and 37 were courtesy. Jennifer Dunne would be soon replacing Lauren Husting as Volunteer Coordinator as Lauren had major post-graduate work coming up.
Elected to the Friends Board for the coming year were: Candy Bartol, Colin Bartol, Gary Bebeau, Steve Benson, Kathy Connelly (new - 2nd term), Jennifer Dunne (new), Jayne Funk, Melissa Hansen, Lauren Husting, Meleah Maynard, Betsy McNerney (new), Gloria Miller, Jennifer Olson, Jim Proctor, Sally Pundt, Steve Pundt, Barry Schade, Anthony Waldera, Phoebe Waugh, Pam Weiner and Susan Wilkins (ex-officio). Vivian Mason, left the board.
At the Board of Directors meeting following the annual meeting, the officers elected were: Pam Weiner, President; Melissa Hansen, Vice-president; Secretary, Candy Bartol; Gary Bebeau, Treasurer.
Continuing in committee roles were: Gary Bebeau, Memorials and Website; Lauren Husting, Volunteers - Jennifer Dunne in training; Steve Benson, Money Management; Meleah Maynerd Newsletter Editor; Phoebe Waugh, Historian; Jayne Funk, membership; Jim Proctor, Invasive Plant Action Group (Liz Anderson co-chair).
Gary Bebeau had made contact with a furniture maker he new and obtained plans for a new custom made desk at a price no greater than ordering one from desk suppliers. An order would be placed. A follow-up report from the Wirth Park Alliance Group was received, which noted that most major dollars that the Park Board had for development were going to go to a new welcome center near the ski area.
The Friends collected personal donations from Board Members for a hi-class Burley baby stroller for Susan Wilkins and her new baby Oliver William. It was delivered to Susan and Casey on July 12.
In the Summer issue of Friends Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol.64, No. 2) Susan’s new baby was announced. A photo of one of the new owlets taken by Naturalist Tammy Mercer was printed (shown up above). Susan’s column will be resumed next year. Some Spring photos were printed along with one of a pair of mink crossing Glenwood Ave.
Background history of the Eloise Butler Memorial Tablet was given; an interview with the Garden’s program coordinator Kirsten Grohovshy was printed, several summer plants were highlighted in an article by Minnesota Landscape Arboretum naturalist Matt Schuth. In the FIPAG report, Dr. Lee Frelich of the University of Minnesota was quoted about the Maple Glen in Wirth Park, a Big Woods remnant, that FIPAG is currently working in.
During the Summer 13 school groups came to the Garden with bus transportation subsidized by the Student Transportation Grant Program - 635 youngsters in 3rd and primarily 4th grades.
The Friends held a Board Meeting on Oct. 17th at the Kenwood Park Community Center. Mark Addicks, who helped the Friends with a Fundraiser at his house in 2015, came to the meeting to speak about fundraising topics for the next boardwalk phase. His suggestions would result in the Showy Lady’s Slipper Days event of June 2017. Also presented for board approval was the registration statement to register the Friends under the Minnesota Charities Act for the fiscal year 2015 ended 30 April 2016. An annual report would be needed each year thereafter. Registration had not been needed as it was very rare for annual revenue to exceed the registration requirement.
Gary Bebeau is refinishing the main table and the six benches in the Martha Crone Shelter. All are badly worn and in need of facelift.
Below: The table in the Martha Crone Shelter after stripping and refinishing. Photo G D Bebeau.
In the Fall issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 64, No.3) Pam Weiner reviewed all the work that went into the first phase of the Garden boardwalk and thanked those who led the efforts at the Cunningham Group and at the MPRB. She also announced that the Friends would begin a new campaign to raise funds for phase two of the boardwalk. She referred to the restoration ongoing in the Garden to control some of the very aggressive shrubs and brambles so that the Garden could remain a garden, not a wild patch of aggressive plants.
Donna Ahrens interviewed Garden Legacy Volunteer Jim Coleman. Photos of the Volunteer event were included, and John Toren wrote about Acorn Bread. Jim Proctor and Liz Anderson summed up the years work for FIPAG and Jim wrote:
“At times I get a bit overwhelmed by the scale of what we are trying to do, but all I have to do is look at the areas we started in almost a decade ago to remind myself of what is possible. In those areas I see a rich diversity of shrubs and young trees filling in the gaps left by buckthorn, and a more varied ground layer of wildflowers. I see a protective zone surrounding our beloved Wildflower Garden, one that will send a rain of native seeds into its midst rather than a deluge of seeds of just a few invasive species. Now we are attempting the same strategy for another beautiful natural community close by.”
FIPAG held three buckthorn pulls in the Maple Glen next to the Garden, running into a lot of poison ivy.
Below: Volunteer Mary with Buckthorn removed during the Fall work in the Maple Glen. Photo Liz Anderson.
The annual volunteer appreciation event was held on November 6th at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in South Minneapolis, our fifth year at that facility. The Friends provided beverages, food, door prizes and the Park Board providing desserts.
Below: The Buffet scene from the 2016 Volunteer Event. Photo Melissa Hansen
At the end of October, Friends membership was 304, including 37 life and 37 courtesy memberships.
The Friends ended the year with assets of $91,000. Revenue in this non-fundraising year was $18,300 of which membership revenue was $5,700, memorials were $735, special donations were $6,700. Expenses were $5,500 of which $4,500 was for newsletter and other printing, $975 to the Park Board for the restoration effort, $2,358 was spent on Student Transportation Grants, and $355 on miscellaneous projects. A $524 deposit was make on the new desk for the shelter.
One new name plate was placed on the Eliason Honor Board in the shelter for memorials: Joel Kracker Jr.
Weather: While snowfall was moderate in the 2015/16 Winter, the snow melted in time for an April 1 opening of the Garden. Summer rains made up the moisture with 2016 ending as the wettest year in recorded weather history. There was a sub-zero cold snap in early December, but snow was again, moderate.
Photo top of page: The Upland hillside on Oct. 27, 2012. Photo G D Bebeau
Meeting Minutes and correspondence of The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden.
Historical Climatology of Minneapolis-St. Paul Area by Charles Fisk.