Friends of the Wild Flower Garden

A web of present and past events

These short articles are written to highlight connections of the plants, history and lore of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden with different time frames or outside connections. A web of intersections.

White Strawberries

White Strawberry
Naturally white strawberries. Photo courtesy Mr. Strawberry.

Yes, you can buy white strawberries. Some species never turn red, although fully ripe. Some will grow in Minnesota. But among folks whose strawberries must be red, they are probably not sought out much even though they taste the same.

All strawberries are white at mid-point in their maturity cycle - first pea size green, then through a white stage, finally turning red. Recent research in sequencing the genome of a number of strawberry species has uncovered the gene that makes strawberries red, or white when it is lacking. Some species, such as our native Woodland Strawberry, Fragaria vesca, can have a mutation, particularly in the gene MYB10 that causes an amino acid change that keeps the berry white. For the technically inclined, here is a link to a research article.

Below: The native Woodland Strawberry, Fragaria vesca, shown with a berry in the white stage and the mature red berry stage.

Woodland Strawberry

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White flowers for summer.

Eloise Butler wrote in 1911 “To subdue the brilliant orange and reds of the lilies and composites, Mother Nature has planted among them with judicious and generous hand various white flowers.” to that sentiment Martha Crone added “The dainty spring flowers have long since passed and the deeper colors of summer flowers are now noted. Mingled with these are a number of white flowers all too little appreciated. They give us a source of light and restfulness, and serve to intensify the brilliant colors. In nature no colors clash.”

Our feature article highlights a number of the white natives that you can see at Eloise Butler and perhaps, grow in your native garden.

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Founding of the Friends - 70 years ago.

On June 18th Articles of Incorporation were filled with the State of Minnesota for Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc., a non-profit group formed for the purposes of advancing, promoting and furthering the interests of the Municipal Wild Flower Garden in Theodore Wirth Park conducted by the Board of Park Commissioners of the City of Minneapolis. The formation of the group was announced in the Minneapolis Star on June 27.

Clinton Odell
Clinton Odell in the Wild Flower Garden in 1949.

The founding directors were Clinton M. Odell, Russell H. Bennett, Dorothy Binder, Martha E. Crone, Donald C. Dayton, Leonard F. Ramberg.

Clinton Odell was a student of Eloise Butler and a frequent visitor to the Wild Flower Garden. When Martha Crone became curator he provided assistance to her in the Garden and financial gifts to the Board of Park Commissioners to help develop the Garden. He felt it imperative there always be a group of citizens who would work for the best interests of the Garden. He was concerned the Garden could become expendable if the Park Board had to cut costs.

The Minneapolis Tribune noted on May 12, 1949:

The well-dressed man whom visitors to the Eloise Butler Wild Flower Garden in Minneapolis see pulling weeds every week-end except in the dead of winter is not the superintendent of parks. Five days a week he is the chairman of the board of the shaving cream company which adorns the roadside with jingles designed to discourage traffic accidents and encourage shavers to remove their whiskers with his products. While fellow businessmen are out digging holes in the turf on their favorite links, Odell is digging holes to plant some choice specimen just received from a distant part of the country.

Odell's full story is found in this article: Clinton Odell.

The background of the other directors is: Russell H. Bennett was Chairman of the Board of Dunwoody Institute; Dorothy Binder was a Twin Cities journalist; Donald C. Dayton was President of the Dayton Company; Leonard F Ramberg was affiliated with the American Swedish Institute and Augsburg College where he was later Chairman of the Board of Regents. Link to biographical details on those four directors.

Clinton Odell wrote letters to many of his business acquaintances inviting them to become a member of The Friends. Martha Crone, as membership secretary, wrote many more. By October 1953 there were 162 members.

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The Garden in late June

On June 16 the Showy Lady’s-slippers were in full bloom. There may be a bloom remaining by the time you receive this. Elsewhere along the boardwalk there were Wild Calla, Blue Flag and Forget-me-not.

Below: Showy Lady's-slippers in bloom on June 18, 2022. Photo G D Bebeau.

Showy Lady's-slippers 2022

It’s a bursting-out story in the upland part of the Garden. You will find no fewer than 30 wild flowers in bloom in you just concentrate around the west loop path and the lone oak hill. On the 16th White and Blue False Indigos, Horse Gentian and Northern Bedstraw were abundant and in full bloom.

A few of the more elusive to spot: Northern Bush Honeysuckle, Wild Four-o’clock, Bracted Spiderwort and Wild Garlic. If you have our Plant ID book you are all set, if not, check the links for what to look for.

Others you may see include: Prairie Dogbane, Tall Meadow Rue, American Alumroot, American Vetch, Thimbleweed, Columbine, Yellow Daylily, Yarrow, Bluejacket, Golden Alexanders, Daisy Fleabane, Great Indian Plantain,, Foxglove Beardtongue, Showy Beardtongue, Canada Anemone, Smooth Rose, Arkansas Rose, Tall Buttercup, White Avens, Canada Moonseed.

Below: Heartleaf four-o'clock in the upland Garden. Photo G D Bebeau

wild four-o'clock

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Previous articles

May 2022 - Garden display at Sumner Library

May 2022 - Mosquito Repellant:

May 2022 - Eloise Butler consults a Medium:

May 2022 - People flock to see it! - Showy Lady's-slipper.

May 2022 - Visit the Garden - late May highlights.

April 2022 - Hepatica, a favorite early spring ephemeral.

April 2022 - Out of thin air: Can a plant census be done by air sampling?

April 2022: Notes on the Garden opening for the season.

March 16, 2022: Rarities in 3 spring ephemerals: Spring flowers at Eloise Butler that had an historical rarity that could be viewed in the Garden in years past.

March 4, 2022: Jumping Worms - Gardener's beware: A recently arrived invasive pest is making inroads in Minnesota and the Twin City area

February 14, 2022: Update on Black Birding: What some of the Black birders are doing.

February 5, 2022: Do we need another invasive plant pest? A look at Oriental Bittersweet in our area.

January 14, 2022: Do pine cones grow on willows?

January 7, 2022: Social Distancing - it's not so new, and bees adopt it also!

Selections published in 2021

Selections published in 2020

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