The condition of the 1970’s handrail along the steps from the parking lot to the front gate is being addressed by the Park & Recreation Board. Parts that were not safe have been removed and repairs are budgeted but not yet contracted.
Curator Susan Wilkins is addressing the need for a repaving of the path from Wirth Beach to the Garden’s back gate. This path is fairly flat allowing less mobile visitors to reach the back gate without steps or hills but is in serious need of repaving. This is the old “tarvia path” or “tarvia road” that Eloise Butler referred to in her Garden Log, which was paved sometime in the early 1920s. Parts of it may have been an old Native American path to and from the Great Medicine Spring which the Santee Sioux were known to have used prior to the Treaty of Traverse de Sioux. In Miss Butler's time, this path actually split the north and south section of the Garden. The Garden today does not include this area on the north side of the path. Work on this path has not been budgeted and not on a maintenance schedule.
Over the past two years, addition of new plants continued while visitation to the Garden was in a more restricted mode. All the way back to Eloise Butler’s time, the majority of planting effort in the Garden consisted of the addition and replacement of existing plant species. Unlike long-lived trees, most herbaceous plants die out more quickly (except, it seems, for Trout-lilies which seem to last forever) and need to be replaced to keep the collection in tact. The Garden has its own plant budget that is frequently supplemented by funds from the Friends. In 2020 we funded $7,341 for 2,664 plants. Your donations go a long ways - that’s $2.75 per plant and that included 180 ferns which are not the least expensive of species. In 2021 we funded less - $1,000, as explained on the below about the Shelter improvements. Your contributions have funded over $43,000 for plants during the past 10 years.
Below: New trees being planted by Garden Staff at Eloise Butler.
We are funded less for plants, as we have now entered an accumulation mode for an improvement project to the Martha Crone Shelter. Details about this were announced back in 2019, with the Park Board allocating funds for the addition of staff space to the existing building. The Friends have been asked to provide funding assistance for part of the project. Construction documentation is being finalized. We expect to know this Winter if funds allocated by the MPRB for the project will match construction bids and if so, construction could take place sometime in 2022/23. The Friends Board followed this same procedure during the years of boardwalk construction - saving funds so the project could be accomplished. There is only a small kitchen area in the current shelter that is used for staff space. Most of the staff work is completed in the old gardener’s tool shed. Staffing today at the Garden is significantly different than in the days of Gardener Cary George, when Cary was the only staff. Programs, especially those for young people, have been added over time. Staff and support materials need space plus room to hold a program when adverse weather occurs, which today, forces cancellation.
Below: The tool shed and current staff headquarters at Eloise Butler.
You should know that your support contributions to the Friends are entirely used for these Garden projects and programs. Our administrative expenses are small (3.1% of revenue over the last three years) and these expenses are funded from non-contribution revenue.
If you want to read more about the historical aspects of the Garden and the things the Friends membership has accomplished over the last 70 years vist the "garden history tab" and the "Friends history tab." Links at page bottom.
If you caught John’s talk on our annual meeting Zoom link on September 19 you heard about the type of habitat conditions he writes about. All three of his recent books will be available via our website until December 31, 2021. All will be signed copies. Book details here.
It has been 13 years since we increased our basic membership rates. As announced at the Annual Meeting, our support rates will change on January 1, 2022. The current basic rates of “Individual” and “Family/Duo” will be combined into a “Basic Membership” rate of $25 per year. “Sponsor” rate will be $100 per year, “Benefactor” rate (formerly “Sustainer”) will be $250 per year and the “Life Member” rate will be a one-time payment of $750. This is the first change to the Benefactor and Life rate since the Friends were founded in 1952. The “Sponsor” rate remains unchanged since 1952. Thank you all for your past support and we welcome your renewed support as we finish our 70th year in 2022.