Friends of the Wild Flower Garden

front gate in snow

Now in our 65th year - Dedicated to Protecting, Preserving and Promoting
The interests of The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary

newsletter imageNewsletter

Current Issue of The Fringed Gentian™
Fall 2017

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Newsletter archive - all back issues.

The Spring 2018 issue will be published near the end of March.

Photo Identification Book of Garden Plants

graphic Spiral bound booklet, 8-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches, 142 pages, thumbnail photos of 437 species of flowering forbs, small shrubs and ferns of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. All plants are native or introduced to Minnesota. Additional 578 images and notes to aid in identification. Photos are approximately 1.5 inches by 2 inches.

In addition, 114 grasses, sedges, large shrubs and trees of the Garden are line listed without photos. Full index. Information about the Garden, the curators and about The Friends. $21 plus $3 shipping.

More Details and Order Information

Winter Shelter Scenes

pld garden cabinPhotos of the Wildflower Garden Shelter in the Winter, over the past 80 years. We begin with our oldest winter photo from 1936 and end with our latest from 2017. The old "little cabin" that was the Garden tool room, office, visitor center & shelter is shown here tucked into the winter snowdrifts on March 9, 1953. It is visited occasionally in the winter by the Garden Curator, Martha Crone, as the winding depression in the snow, which is the path from the front gate, indicates. All is quiet on a brilliant winter day - the kind Martha would be thinking of when she wrote "What a Fairyland the woods present after a snowstorm. The new snow muffles the echoes, and there is a new beauty where only bare bleakness existed before." Go to Photos Page.

A Seasonal Poem

Where, wandering volatile from kind to kind,
He wooed the several trees to give him one.
First he besought the ash; the voice she lent
Fitfully with a free and lasting change
Flung here and there its sad uncertainties:


The aspen next; a fluttered frivolous twitter
Was her sole tribute: from the willow came,
So long as dainty summer dressed her out,
A whispering sweetness, but her winter note
Was hissing, dry, and reedy: lastly the pine


Did he solicit, and from her he drew
A voice so constant, soft, and lowly deep,
That there he rested, welcoming in her
A mild memorial of the ocean-cave
Where he was born.

Taken from "The Wind and the Pine Tree" by
Henry Taylor, English (1800–1886)

Garden Plant of the Week

Sweet Black-eyed Susan

Sweet Black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia subtomentosa Pursh

Sweet Black-eyed Susan is a tall perennial, forming large clumps, and has multiple clusters of yellow coneflowers atop stems growing to 6+ feet high. It was originally introduced to the Wildflower Garden by Eloise Butler in 1921 but is no longer extant. It is native to Iowa and southern Wisconsin but there is some question if it is native to Minnesota as only one population has ever been found in the wild, and that near the Iowa border. It does grown nicely however, North as far as the metro area for certain and makes a large and colorful background plant when it blooms in late Summer.

It needs sun and moist to mesic soils, not real dry soils. The seeds are viable but need cold stratification for germination. Why it is called ‘sweet’ is open to conjecture. It’s much shorter cousin is the Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta.


An Observation from Nature

“I found my account in climbing a tree once. It was a tall white pine, on the top of a hill; and though I got well pitched, I was well paid for it, for I discovered new mountains in the horizon which I had never seen before,—so much more of the earth and the heavens. I might have walked about the foot of the tree for three-score years and ten, and yet I certainly should never have seen them. But, above all, I discovered around me,—it was near the end of June,—on the ends of the topmost branches only, a few minute and delicate red cone-like blossoms, the fertile flower of the white pine looking heavenward. I carried straightway to the village the topmost spire, and showed it to stranger jurymen who walked the streets,—for it was court-week,—and to farmers and lumber-dealers and wood-choppers and hunters, and not one had even seen the like before, but wondered as at a star dropped down.

Tell of ancient architects finishing their works on the tops of columns as perfectly as on the lower and more visible parts! Nature has from the first expanded the minute blossoms of the forest only toward the heavens, above men’s heads and unobserved by them. We see only the flowers that are under our feet in the meadows. The pines have developed their delicate blossoms on the highest twigs of the wood every summer for ages, as well over the heads of Nature’s red children as of her white ones; yet scarcely a farmer or hunter in the land has even seen them."
Henry Thoreau, from Walking, 1862.

Phase Two of the Garden Boardwalk

Garden BoardwalkThe Friends need your help! Phase One of the Garden's Boardwalk was dedicated in 2015 and has won three landscape architecture awards. Phase One only covered a portion of the wetland area that needs a firm boardwalk surface.

Your donation can help us continue the boardwalk further into the wetland.

All funds The Friends raise will go toward the construction of Phase Two of the Garden's Wetland Boardwalk. You can walk on the award-winning completed Phase I portion to see wetland plants and visualize where Phase II will complete this beautiful and functional walkway over the entire Wetland.

Please consider making a donation to this critical Garden project. Right now we have a matching grant so your donation will do double duty!

Details on the boardwalk, and how to donate at this link.