Front Gate in winter

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

Winter 2016/2017

2017 begins the 111th year of the Garden, it having been founded on April 15, 1907. It would also be the 65th year for the Friends. This is Susan Wilkins’ 14th year as Garden Curator.

Bat nesting box
Above: A bat nesting box located in the deep wooded area of the upland garden. Photo G. D. Bebeau

The first Friends Board meeting of the year took place February 6, 2017 at the home of President Pam Weiner. Garden Curator Susan Wilkins was in attendance and back from her leave of absence. She reported that the conditions in the Garden indicated that the spring growing season would start early. Earthworms have been a worry of hers in recent years due to the damage they do to soil conditions. As they mix the soil they change the growing conditions for our plants. She was meeting with habitat restoration and natural resource management specialists to take in views of how to adapt. Echoing what Pam Weiner wrote in last fall’s Friends newsletter, she said the Garden is a garden, not a wild place so it must be managed as a garden.

Jennefer Dunn
Above: Friends volunteer coordinator Jennifer Dunne. Friends photo.

Gary Bebeau had added to The Friends' website historical lists of Friends Directors, Officers, and newsletter editors, from 1952 to the present. He also presented drafts of a proposed plant identification book for Garden plants. It would be 8-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches, spiral bound and would use thumbnail photos for identification. Cost was to be kept under $10 per copy so they could be sold at a reasonable price. A few Board members offered to review and comment. He also announced that the new shelter desk that he had commissioned would be ready in April.

New volunteer coordinator Jennifer Dunne was rounding up volunteers for the shelter and had 24 solid commitments so far from her list of 42. A training session was scheduled for April 11.

Fundraising for the boardwalk phase two was discussed and in coordination with Susan Wilkins, June 10-11 has been set aside as a Showy Lady’s-Slipper celebration at the Garden. The Friends would set up tables and provide volunteers in the Garden.

Spring 2017

remains of Oak tree
Above: The remains of the old Oak tree taken down next to the Shelter. Photo G D Bebeau

Due to an early spring, the Garden was open on April 1st with spring plants already showing including Virginia Bluebells.

The next Friends Board meeting was on April 3rd at the Kenwood Park Community Center. Susan Wilkins reviewed which staff was returning for the season and who was new. A new program coordinator, Kari Vanstrom, was on board. Susan presented a list of Garden projects, but funding for the boardwalk was to take priority. The Friends were already committed for up to $3,500 this year and 2018 for prairie restoration. An ADA compliance audit had been completed for the Garden, but the lack of funds to do anything and that there are certain historic place exceptions, would preclude any major changes. A large oak right behind the shelter was removed as it was rotting at the base.

The board specified that the plant identification booklet Gary Bebeau was working on should be reviewed by a botanical expert and a copy editor. That work would go to Barb Delaney who had prepared the Garden plant census and Donna Ahrens, copy editor of the Friends’ newsletter.

Newsletter editor Meleah Maynerd, and her two helpers, John Toren and Donna Ahrens were leaving those positions in the fall. Garden naturalist Kari Christianson joined FIPAG (Friends Invasive Plant Action Group) as co-chair.

FIPAG conducted four Garlic Mustard pulls in May and early June.

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) applied for a Department of Natural Resources $55,000 matching grant to be used for the boardwalk, but it ultimately went to another entity.

More planning was done for the June Showy Lady’s-slipper Celebration. Pam announced that Kathy Connelly had agreed to be the Friends new President.

Gloria Miller
Gloria Miller, Friends past president and board member. Friends photo.

In the spring issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 65, No. 1) President Pam wrote her last letter as President. She announced the capital campaign to fund the boardwalk phase two - Campaign 175 - a take on the need to raise $175,000 and that this year was the 175th combined anniversaries of the Garden and the Friends. She also announced the June celebration event to the membership. A donation envelop was included with the mailing of the newsletter.

New volunteer coordinator Jennifer Dunne was interviewed by Donna Ahrens. A brief history of the Fern Glen was given, along with photos of Spring blooms to be seen in the Garden. FIPAG showed photos of their work in the Maple Glen.

On May 7, long-time board member Gloria Miller passed away.

Gloria Miller wore many hats during her years of volunteer activity with Friends of the Wild Flower Garden. She served 17 years on the Friends Board of Directors over two intervals, the first beginning in 1985. She was twice President of the Friends (1986-1988 and 1997-1999), as well as serving for many years as a volunteer in the Garden’s Martha Crone Shelter which she called her “weekly ‘gift’ of mental relaxation and renewal.” Also, as an artist and former art teacher, Gloria has shared her graphic skills. As a designer, she created the distinctive coneflower logo used on Friends’ stationery, envelopes, note cards and a new member booklet titled From The Friends to Friends.

A native of North Dakota, she grew up enjoying the prairie wildflowers that were so abundant in the North Dakota countryside. Her favorites were the beautiful blue harebells and wild roses. Gloria was a graduate of Valley City State University in North Dakota, and also did graduate work at Moorhead State University. She taught in Montana and northern Minnesota prior to teaching in the Twin Cities. She was a tutor for Minneapolis Public Schools for home-bound and hospital-bound students. Gloria was a longtime member of the Richfield Garden Club and has participated in the Minneapolis Art Institute’s “Art in Bloom” event. She once said of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden: “Most of all, the Garden is just good for the soul! There is no other place like it. … I call it heaven on earth.”

The Friends annual meeting, was held at the Kenwood Park Community Center, 21st and Franklin Ave., Minneapolis on Sunday May 21.

Susan Wilkins announced that the boardwalk had won a second award - the Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects, Minnesota Chapter. She then reviewed for everyone why the Garden is such a rich place and that the signage is being looked at for updating. Photo below courtesy Cuningham Group - Landscape architects for the boardwalk project.

Garden Boardwalk

Gary Bebeau reviewed the financial information and the website. The purpose for the website was to support the Garden and the Friends, to educate the public about the Garden, its history and its plants, and to be a repository of Friends history.

Jayne Funk's membership report showed 291 members of which 37 were life and 38 were courtesy. Phoebe Waugh would be stepping down as historian.

The poster for Showy Lady's Slipper Days. Click image for larger version.

Elected to the Friends Board for the coming year were: Candy Bartol , Colin Bartol, Gary Bebeau, Steve Benson, Kathy Connelly, Jennifer Dunne, Jayne Funk, Melissa Hansen, Lauren Husting, Betsy McNerney, Jennifer Olson, Jim Proctor, Sally Pundt, Steve Pundt, Barry Schade, Pam Weiner and Susan Wilkins (ex-officio). Anthony Waldera, Meleah Maynard and Phoebe Waugh left the board.

At the Board of Directors meeting following the annual meeting, the officers elected were: Kathleen Connelly, President; Melissa Hansen, Vice-president; Candy Bartol, Secretary; Gary Bebeau, Treasurer.

For Pam’s retirement, a special seed/wood sculpture by Jim Proctor was commissioned and a special planting would be made near the Martha Crone Shelter in the Garden. Funds for both items were collected personally from board members.

Continuing in committee roles were: Gary Bebeau, memorials and website; Jennifer Dunne (new), volunteers; Steve Benson, money management; Jennifer Olson (new), historian; Jayne Funk, membership; Jim Proctor, Invasive Plant Action Group (with non-board members Liz Anderson and Kari Christianson, co-chairs).

Gary delivering desk
Gary Bebeau delivering the new shelter desk. Photo MPRB.

Much discussion was had on the upcoming Showy Lady’s-slipper Days event on June 10 and 11. Mark Addicks donated $7,000 in order to cover the cost of 15 second spots that would air on Minnesota Public Radio beginning at the end of May. The Friends would have tables at the Garden entrance for membership, and merchandise sales. Pam had arranged for fabric items with Garden and Lady Slipper embroidery - hats, dish towels, tote bags, aprons, and baby bibs. Also, the note cards, designed for the 2007 Garden anniversary and sold out were reprinted and for sale. Eloise Butler would make an appearance. Posters were designed by Gary Bebeau for posting in the neighborhood.

Steve Pundt had arranged for a bicycle raffle and for a sales table at the new brew-pub, Utepils, just down Glenwood Ave. from the Garden at 225 Thomas Ave. One-on-One Bicycle Studio would sell the Friends a hi-tech bike at cost and then provide $350-$400 of equipment for it. The bike would be on-display at Utepils on June 3 and June 10 -11. Raffle tickets were designed and printed, charitable gambling licenses were obtained from Minneapolis and the State. Raffle tickets would be $5 and it was hoped that $4,000 of tickets could be sold.

Gary Bebeau picked up the new shelter desk from the builder, Welchwood Cabinetry in Welch MN and delivered it the the shelter on Tuesday May 16. The desk was 30 x 50 inches and built of quarter sawn White Oak. Susan Wilkins and a few naturalists helped cart it down to the Shelter. The old desk was original to when the shelter was furnished in 1970. Desk photo below - G D Bebeau.

Shelter Desk

Summer 2017

turtle nest site
Turtles once again made a nest at the edge of the parking lot. Garden staff marked the area for protection. Photo G D Bebeau.

The big event to start of the summer was the Showy Lady’s-slipper Days. The Lady’s-slippers actually started blooming a good week prior but there were still nice clumps of bloom on this weekend - June 10/11. Saturday was sunny but Sunday was damp, but not bad. Anna Anderhagen again arrived in the form of Eloise Butler and provided historical backdrop for visitors. The Friends sold $3,076 in raffle tickets, some merchandise and signed up eight new members. Total receipts after expenses were $3,597.

Shortly after the event, a dead tree fell on the front gate completely crushing the wood arbor superstructure that had been put in place in 1992. The only piece salvaged was the plank with “Let Nature Be Your Teacher” carved on it. It was retained to add back when a new arbor was made.

Following the event, Pam Weiner continued in the role of fundraising head and sent a letter to membership on the Campaign 175. (pdf copy)

In the summer issue of Friends Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol.65, No. 2) Kathy Connelly wrote her first letter as president, expressing thanks to Pam Weiner for her 10 years of service as president as expressing thanks for all who have helped the Friends.

front gate after tree damage
The Garden gate after a falling tree destroyed the wood arbor structure. Photo G D Bebeau.

Susan Wilkins listed all the staff at the Garden this summer. New Staff: Kari Ramstrom, Garden Education Program Coordinator; Timothy Glenn, Interpretive Naturalist (in a new role as lead daytime naturalist); Amie Durenberger, Interpretive Naturalist; Maia Campbell, Interpretive Naturalist; Chee Yang, Natural Resources Specialist; Emily Christian, Horticulture Support Intern; Kathleen Mitchell, Horticulture Support Intern. Returning interpretive naturalist staff were: Lauren Borer, Jodi Gustafson, Tammy Mercer, Wes Nugteren, Kyla Sisson, Kara Snow, and Ron Spinosa.

John Toren wrote on how to recognize the songs of certain birds. Eloise Butler was quoted writing about herself. Jim Proctor of FPAG wrote “People often tell FIPAG volunteers that their efforts are wasted and futile. Nevertheless, they persist, and the results are not only obvious, but growing. Work at the maple glen will continue for several more years, but we have already begun to see the Big Woods re-emerging.”

Following publication of the summer issue, editor Meleah Maynard had to retire early due to other commitments. Board member Betsy McNerney agreed to be the new editor for the fall issue.

During the summer 10 school groups came to the Garden with bus transportation subsidized by the Student Transportation Grant Program - 525 youngsters, all 4th graders. Transportation cost to the Friends - $2,040.

Below: Scenes from Showy Lady's-slipper Days. First photo - Jayne Funk and Roger Battreal man the Friends membership table at the front gate on June 10. Second photo - Jennifer Dunne (l.) and Melissa Hansen (r.) flank Eloise Butler who attended on June 11 and introduced herself to Garden visitors. Friends photos.

membership table at Showy Days Friends at Showy Days

Autumn 2017

FIPAG held three Buckthorn pulls in the Maple Glen next to the Garden, in October. Part of the work area shown below. Photo G D Bebeau.

Maple Glen SE of the garden gate

The last 2017 Board meeting of the Friends was on October 16, held at the Kenwood Community Center. Susan Wilkins attended. Final plans were made for the Volunteer Appreciation Event to be held later in the month. Besides the usually committee and officer reports, fundraising for the boardwalk second phase was discussed, the first annual filing of the Minnesota Charities Report was reviewed and approved, and President Kathy Connelly initiated the process of a formal budget review for the upcoming year.

Volunteer chair Jennifer Dunne reported that there were 47 people on the volunteer roster with 38 as active Shelter Docents this year and that a great job of training had been done by Melissa Hansen and Rod Miller. Jennifer presented her ideas for 2018 to make the volunteer experience even better for those who give their time and she had come up with a new training outline.

Volunteer Event
In the buffet line at the Volunteer Event are l to r: Maggie Tuff, Karen Smudski, Mary Steinbicker and Howard Towle.

President Connelly issued a special letter to life members of the Friends to review with them the importance of the wetland boardwalk and of our needs for funding the second phase. Pam Weiner also wrote in a similar manner to a select list of potential donors - the list composed of persons known to love and support native plants. She also was continuing to contact foundations and grantors to further our cause.

Four hundred dollars was provided to MPRB to pay for special planting near the Garden shelter as an honor for Past President Pam Weiner. The Friends also paid $3,500 to the Garden for the 2017 installment of prairie restoration work that was started in 2015 and continues into 2018.

The annual volunteer appreciation event was held on October 29th at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in South Minneapolis, our sixth year at that facility. The Friends provided beverages, food, door prizes, free gardening books and the Park Board providing desserts. Sixty-three volunteers, Garden staff, and Friends board members were attending. Catering of food was by Borders Cucina. For the first time a sales table was set-up during the event where Garden theme hats, dish towels, aprons, note cards and the new Plant Identification Book (book details below) were sold.

For several years running Pam Weiner had brought in a supply of donated books related to plants and gardening. The books were originally donated to an organization that ships donated books to other countries where specific books on North American plants and gardening would be of no use. Attendees at the event could take home what they wished. Photos (some shown here) by Melissa Hansen, Maggie Tuff and Karen Smudski were published in the Fall issue of The Fringed Gentian™

Below: Volunteer Appreciation Event. First photo - Dave Stack, Jim Coleman, Bill Blood. Second photo - Jeff Mancl, Jim Proctor.

volunteer event volunteer event

That fall issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 65, No.3) was Betsy McNerney’s first as editor. She had Andrea Vollmer as volunteer designer and Emily Anderson and Denise Sterling as copyeditors.

Vernal Pool in Maple Glen
The vernal pool at the bottom of the Maple Glen. Photo - Jim Proctor.

Susan Wilkins writes about how the Garden is changing:
I admit I generally don’t like change when it comes to the places I love. Here at the Garden, for instance, I like the forests to look and behave in ways that are familiar and to my liking: a healthy layer of leaf litter all season long; soft supple soil under the duff; an abundance of wildflowers, ferns, sedges, grasses, shrubs and trees; everything regenerating on its own with no invasive plants. But that’s not what I see. The forests aren’t behaving! The soils show bare by mid-summer, sometimes compacted and dry, many forest species are not regenerating and invasive plants are continually popping up.

Why? Relatively new factors like invasive plants and earthworms are infiltrating the forest, making conditions more inhospitable to native plants. Nature will continue to change in the “natural” ways we expect — e.g. forest succession and seasonal transformation — but in addition we are experiencing a host of other changes which bring new conditions to grapple with and will in turn influence the “natural” changes.

Friends President Kathy Connelly, in the issue’s main article, describes what sets the Garden apart and contributes her take on what the Garden’s main issues are. “We are in good hands – the current Curator has a vision for the Garden that is forward-thinking and science-based, and it appears that the Park Board and the City recognize that the Garden is the jewel of the award-winning Minneapolis park system. I would like to see the Friends continue to focus on making the Garden a welcoming place for children, especially children without other access to outdoor spaces, to safely play and learn.”

Jim Proctor reviewed the work of FIPAG in the Maple Glen just south of the main gate. His concern was how to mitigate erosion on the slopes after removal of all the invasives. There was also the discovery that the bottom of the glen may actually be a vernal pool.

book cover
The first edition of the Plant Identification Guide published by The Friends.

The issue also highlighted the new Photo Plant Identification Guide printed by the Friends in July and now available for purchase. The guide was printed on heavy stock paper, spiral bound, contained brief information about the Garden and the Friends and 640 photo thumbnails of 403 different Garden plants, arranged by scientific name within color groups. The guide will be useful anywhere in North American where this selection of wild flowers grows. Board member Gary Bebeau complied the booklet from his photos and website data. The 1st print run of 80 was sold out by the end of the year and the second edition was printed at year-end.

A new newsletter column was started by Jennifer Dunne titled “Ask Eloise” - it answered a few questions the visitors typically ask volunteers and Garden staff.

Summarizing the year:

Mission Project expenditures: $3,900 to the Park Board - $3,500 for the restoration effort, $400 for a special planting and the balance owed on the new Shelter desk of $940 was paid [total cost was $1,440]. $2,040 was spent on Student Transportation Grants.

Membership at year end totaled 318, of which 40 were life members and 39 courtesy memberships.

Nine new name plates were placed on the Eliason Honor Board in the shelter for memorials: Molly George, Karen Arrel, Pam Weiner (in-honor-of), Laurie Snow, Natalie Titrington Quinn, Gloria Miller, Heather Rueth, Vernon Brundell and Gladys Olson.

Weather: Like 2016, the snow melted early in spring bringing on one of the earliest spring seasons in recent years. Summer rains were adequate, but much less moisture than 2016 which was the wettest year in recorded weather history. There was a sub-zero cold snap in late December, but snow was, as in recent years, very light through the end of the year.

Photo top of page: The Garden front gate on Jan. 12, 2017. Photo G D Bebeau

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. 65, # 1, Spring 2017, Meleah Maynard, Editor

Vol. 65, # 2, Summer 2017, Meleah Maynard, Editor

Vol. 65, # 3, Fall 2017, Betsy McNerney, 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. "" - 011521