Gardener's shed

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

Winter 1996/1997

Cary George
Cary George at the Garden. Friends photo.

This is the eleventh year with Gardener Cary George in charge of the Garden.

Note: The issues of the Friend’s Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™, were numbered out of sequence this year. The correct volume numbers are used in the text. The "as printed" numbers are shown at the bottom of this page.

The Friends held a board meeting on Feb. 3rd at Golden Valley City Hall. The item of most importance was to set up a meeting with Jeff Lee, Manager of Environmental Operations for the Park Board to discuss Garden Projects.

That meeting took place on Feb. 13th at the Park Board Operations Center. Items discussed and the conclusions were:

Jeff Lee
Jeff Lee, Manager of Environmental Operations for MPRB, shown here in a 2004 Friends photo.

Another board meeting was held on March 17th. A money management committee was formed of Steve Benson, Steve Pundt and Jack Schultz. They were to meet with Merrill Lynch to re-arrange the types of accounts where the Friends funds were kept. More results were in from the meeting on Feb. 13th with Jeff Lee:

Spring 1997

The Garden would not open until April 7 due to heavy snow cover. The Winter of 1996/97 had 72 inches of snow, 29 inches above median. Warm 40 degree temperatures in early March, were then followed by below zero temperatures in mid-March, which killed the flower buds on many Cottonwood, Elderberry, some oaks and other early flowering shrubs.

In the Spring issue of The Fringed Gentian™ Star Tribune Staff Writer Darlene Pfister wrote an article titled “This Wonderful Garden” about her experiences of being alone in the Garden on opening day. Cary George wrote about winter activities including damage to the shingles on the rest room, apparently from a dog trying to root out a woodchuck. Winners on last falls Garden Photo Contest were announced.

The completed back gate - shown here in 2008 - Additional fencing was added east and west from the gate in 2005. (Photo G D Bebeau)

Garden back gate

The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden held their annual meeting on Saturday May 17, at the Martha Crone Shelter in the Garden. Directors elected were: Steve Benson, Harriet Betzold, Joy Davis, Mel Duoos, Marguerite Harbison, Juanita Lussenhop, Jack Lynch, Gloria Miller, Lon Miller, Steve & Sally Pundt, Kaye Rudberg, Shirley & Jack Schultz, Lola Wheeler.

Elected to their offices at the Board of Directors meeting: Gloria Miller, President; Jack Lynch, Vice-President; Juanita Lussenhop, Secretary; and Jack Schultz, Treasurer.

In Committees, Shirley Schultz was Volunteer coordinator, Joy Davis, membership chair; Gloria Miller, Historian; Newsletter editor, Barb Milligan; Liaison to the Park Board, Steve Pundt; and Marguerite Harbison was memorials chair.

36 volunteers were on the active list. 246 persons on the membership list.

Jeff Lee, Manager of Environmental Operations for the Park Board was present and reported on the project list covered in the Winter section above. The estimated cost for the shed remodel was $3,500. Cathy Baldwin (Friends member and a Park Board naturalist) had completed the photo history on Eloise Butler and the booklet was ready to place on the Shelter table.

Former Friends President and Board Member and Eloise Butler Wildflower Gardener Ken Avery was in attendance and gave short history of the Springs in and near the Garden. This would be Ken's last meeting. Cary George outlined the plan to replace the steep path at the back of the Garden connecting the upland with the wetland, with a path with more switchbacks. This would begin on June 16 with help from a youth group.

Summer 1997

Baker Bench
Bench dedication to Margie Baker, situated on the oak hill in the Upland Garden. Photo G D Bebeau.

In the Summer issue of The Fringed Gentian™, Cary George wrote about the increasing infestation of Garlic Mustard in the cities and in Wirth Park. He is trying to keep it under control in the Garden. He made of list the common alien trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs; and also a list of the aggressive native trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs.

Friends outgoing President, Harriet Betzold, wrote her last President’s Letter, the annual meeting of the Friends was reported on, and Harriet wrote that last fall the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board honored Friends members Betty Bryan, Gloria Miller and Lon Miller for their volunteer work.

A new bench memorial was placed in the Upland Garden honoring Margie Baker. Back in 1995 a member of People for Parks had inquired about the process of having a memorial plate placed in the Garden, and working with the Park Board it was accomplished.

Backpath in Garden
The new back path to the Upland Garden completed in the Summer of 1997 and shown here 10 years later after the vegetation has completely filled in. (Photo G D Bebeau)

The history of the Baker bench is explained in this letter to The Friends from Zachary Baker:

"I am a native of Minneapolis, and last lived there about 30 years ago. I visit the Wild Flower Garden whenever I get back to town – some of my earliest childhood memories are connected with outings there. For my mother, the late Marjorie Baker, the Garden was a very special place, and after she passed away (1973) my father arranged to have plaques in her memory placed by two benches – one in the forest garden, the other in the prairie garden. My father, Mike Baker, died a little over a year ago, and I have been to the Garden several times during visits connected with estate matters. I feel that the very least I can do is to join the Friends as a sponsor. That way, the Baker family will maintain its connection to the Garden for the present and future." Zachary Baker.

During the summer the steep back trail was rebuilt with help from the Loring-Nicollet-Bethlehem youth crew - 14-15 year olds. It was lined with treated timbers and Cary George planted native plants over the old section of the trail.

On June 21, a garden designer from England, Helen Shaw, toured the Garden. It’s interesting how many foreign visitors know about the Garden. It was written back in 1924 in a Minneapolis newspaper, when Eloise Butler was still curator, that she and the garden were more well-known abroad and in other states than right here at home.

Autumn 1997

Gardeners Shed
The Gardener's shed, in the process of being re-habed. (Photo G D Bebeau).

In the Fall issue of The Fringed Gentian™ Friends President Gloria Miller writes the first President’s Letter of her second term as Friends President. [First term 1986-88] MPRB Naturalist Stacy Skinner writes about composite flowers; MRPB Naturalist Sara Gallagher writes about late August birding and Cary George reported on his work.

The park board carpenters were busy re-habing the Gardener’s shed. The cost to the Friends would be $2,400 for materials while the Park Board paid their employees labor which was calculated at $7,756. The back gate iron work fencing was completed by Selby Ornamental Iron at a cost to the Friends of $3,649. This fence section abutted the gate, which is set back from the path along the back of the Garden (the old tarvia path), but did not include the fence section along the back path. That section remained wire fencing and would not be replaced until 2005.

37 volunteers contributed 771 hours at the Crone Shelter. Duty did not start this year until April 13, due to ice and snow. The Garden closed a week early to allow construction work to start on the Gardener's shed.

The Volunteer appreciation event this year became a luncheon, held at the American Legion Post in Golden Valley. Eighteen volunteers attended. Marguerite Harbison was the chief organizer.

Gardener's shed
The Gardener's shed, after re-hab, shown here in 2008 and at top of page in 1999. (Photos G D Bebeau).

Finally, and sadly, Ken Avery passed away on November 19th at age 72. He had received a degree in horticulture in 1952 from the University of Minnesota, became assistant to Martha Crone, and then curator/gardener when she retired at the end of 1958. He was a member of the Friends since he came to the Garden and was our president 1966-1968. Here is a story of his Garden career. [Remembering Ken Avery]

At the end of 1997 the Friends had financial statement assets of $60,600.

Weather: While the first part of the year was cold with snow, the Winter of 1997/98 was mild due to El Nino, with little snowfall before Dec. 31st and most of the Winter snow coming in the first quarter of 1998. Total precipitation for 1997 was above average due to much rain between June and October with two storms in July and August dropping 3.7 and 3.2 inches of rain.

Photo top of page: The Gardener's Shed, hidden among the foliage in August 1999. 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. 45 No.1 Spring 1997, Barbara Milligan, Editor (all 1997 issues mislabeled Vol. 48)

- Vol. 45 No.2 Summer 1997, Barbara Milligan, Editor

- Vol. 45 No.3 Fall 1997, Barbara Milligan, Editor

- Vol. 45 No.4 Winter 1997, Barbara Milligan, 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. "" - 011121