Note: On these "Our Memories" pages will be found a collection of stories, photographs and remembrances contributed by current and former members of the Friends who shared their experiences during The Friends 50th Anniversary in 2002 and were published in 50 Years of Friends. There are three separate sections, with the contributors arranged alphabetically. Scroll through the entire page or click on an individual name.
On this page find memories of:
George and I moved to this area from central Illinois in 1957. Once we discovered the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, we joined the Friends and became regular visitors, at least once or twice a year. George was very involved with the Minnesota Transportation Museum and the acquisition and renovation of classic streetcars, especially on the Como-Harriet Line in Linden Hills. He arranged for old line ties to be made available to Ken Avery to use for the path edges in the Garden.
The Garden was a family thing for us, and when my sister Esther Lou visited from Montana, we brought her and her family to “our” Garden. Her husband, Carl, was a serious gardener, and they both developed a special fondness for EBWG, becoming Friends and eagerly returning whenever they were in town. Sadly, they were both killed by a drunk driver in 1976. I recall that a thoughtful commemorative note on their passing was included in the Gentian at the time, and I appreciated that.
Over the years, I've always loved the ferns and the foam flowers in bloom. Other favorites are the marsh marigolds, and, of course, the lady slippers, a kind of royalty in this wonderful place.
Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden has been a part of our family for decades. When our children were very young, Gary would take them, usually on Sunday afternoons, to walk the trails in the Garden. He would tell them about the natural world and his love of the outdoors.
These children are now in their forties, and they have their own youngsters. When they visit us from their homes out-of-state, a favorite destination is “our family’s” Garden! All three grown-up kids have grand memories of their Garden sojourns with their dad.
Nowadays, Gary is a volunteer at EBWG, and we both are grateful that it is a part of our lives.
Her Poem - Within the Garden Gate
The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
gives hope, inspiration and cheer,
with Nature's splendor all around
to see and touch and hear.
The Garden is a sanctuary
for the many birds we see;
we hear throughout the woodland
their song and melody.
And if the winds are not so gentle
nor the sky as blue and fair,
our spirit is uplifted as
blossom fragrance fills the air.
No matter how downhearted
and discouraged we may be,
new hope is born when we behold
leaves building on a tree.
Or when we see the wildflowers
push their heads up through the sod,
and open wide in glad surprise
their petaled eyes to God.
So we honor the Friends of the Garden
for your work and love help create
a garden filled with beauty
within the Garden gate.
Friends member Marilyn Hooper Rohlfing grew up with parents who supported the Garden and initiated a multi-generational tradition of loyal membership and appreciation. When Marilyn and Fred’s children were small, her parents, Jane and Bruce Hooper, presented them with a gift membership so they would take their family to the Garden. Grandma Jane kept her own membership active when she lived at the Jones Harrison Residence, right up to her death in 2000.
Marilyn remembers her parents talking about the Garden as a “wonderful blessing for the community.” Several years ago, in celebration of her own birthday, Marilyn visited the Garden with her son and his girlfriend, continuing her family’s cherished Garden tradition.
[Marilyn’s father was a director of the Friends from 1974 through 1978 and served as Treasurer in 1976 to 1978.]
We’ve been members of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden for many years, perhaps as many as 25. We always enjoy getting our issue of The Fringed Gentian, a fine way of keeping up with what is happening in the Garden.
Our favorite time to visit is the period from April, when the snow trillium is blooming, until mid-June, when the showy lady slipper is standing tall in all her resplendent beauty. This span of each year brings back the ephemerals of the woodland garden, each exhibiting its own seasonal splendor.
Over the years, we have seen major events that have changed the woodland garden. The advents of Dutch elm disease and summer windstorms have destroyed many of the huge trees that provided the needed cover for shade-loving spring ephemerals. But lo and behold, all was not lost, because now, with more light available, the understory trees grew faster and taller, providing more shade; and the beauty of these spring wildflowers has been sustained.
All of the above contributors are members of The Friends. Most have been members since before 1975, the LaBelle's since 1985.
All photos are courtesy of members or the property of The Friends except where otherwise credited.