The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden
The street and footpath approaches to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary off of Theodore Wirth Parkway, take you up a small hill. At the top, at the parking lot, you are at about the same elevation as the other surrounding small hills of Theodore Wirth Park. From the lot, you see that the main gate is of lower elevation and that to the left of gate, the slope is further downward, while directly ahead and slightly right the slope tends upward again. This is the setting that gives the Garden its unique configuration of the Woodland Garden to the left with a wetland in the lowest part and the Upland Garden of prairie and oak savanna to the right with an elevation change of over 80 feet between the two Gardens. These photos are all from early spring, the best time to see the lay of the land. Once the leaves grow on the shrubs and trees, the vistas will be obscured.
More detail on the geography is available on this page.
Click on the map for a larger version.
Above: After entering the front gate, you see directly ahead, on a lower bench of land, the Martha E. Crone Shelter, with the winding path to the left (laid out by Clinton Odell's daughter, Moana) to take you there. Beyond the shelter, the land drops off further to the wetland.
Below: From the flat land bench in front of the Martha E. Crone Visitor Shelter, paths lead in two directions, right and left, downward, to encircle the wetland that lies at the center of the depression between hills - the hillsides creating an amphitheater effect. (Click on either photo for a summer view)
Below: Within the central depression forming the wetland is a path that connects at either end to the two encircling paths shown above. This path was completed in 1946 by the then Garden Curator, Martha Crone. In the background you see the encircling hillside. The path is now converted to a boardwalk.
Below: At the far end of the wetland, the western most path becomes a boardwalk (installed in 2015) before crossing a small stream that drains the wetland into an open pool, shown here in the foreground. The pool then drains over a small rock dam and the water exits the garden near the back (North) gate. Different bridges have crossed the water channel over time. The 1991 vintage replacement bridge is shown in the photo near the end of its lifetime in 2009. That bridge is now replaced by the boardwalk, shown in the next photo from 2018.
Above: A sunny day in the Upland Garden Prairie is delightful, even if the temperature is on the cool side.
Below: Entering the main gate and turning right, you climb up a gentle slope into the Upland Garden. You can see on the left of this photo the land sloping downward toward the Woodland Garden. Ahead is the first small hill with a large oak visible on the next hill beyond. The perimeter fence is on the right. (Click on photo for a summer image)
Above: When you climb the second hill and stand by the large White Oak (Guidebook Station 44) and look ahead, you see the remainder of the Upland Garden. A third hill ahead (2nd photo - the highest elevation point in the entire Garden) with another large oak, spruce trees to the right. On the farther right lies (3rd photo) the newer 1993 addition to the Upland Garden. To the left (1st photo) the encircling paths intersect and one path leads down to the back end (North end) of the Woodland Garden. Click on any photo for a larger image.
Above: This last view is from the perspective of the third hill (the high point of the Garden) looking back toward the oak on the center hill (Station 44). Here again, you see off to the right how the terrain slopes downward into the Woodland Garden.
The Martha E. Crone Visitor Shelter makes a nice rest stop on your tour of the Garden. During shelter open hours a shelter docent or a Naturalist is always there to chat with and answer any questions. Pick up a copy of the Garden Guide, the current list of blooming plants and other informative material. Photos: The 1st photo is the Visitor Shelter in the Woodland Garden, as seen from it's west side. The 2nd photo is a view from a path in the Upland Garden.