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The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden

P. O. Box 3793
Minneapolis MN 55403

1924 Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden Fencing Details

1932 winter scene
This winter view on Christmas Day 1932 shows part of Eloise Butler's original fence. Photo taken by Martha Crone.

In order to really secure the Garden from large animals, vandals and people that just wandered in from all directions, it had to be securely fence and equipped with gates that could be locked. Eloise Butler even resorted to the newspaper on two occasions to state her case for a fence.

Ms. Butler's worst menace was "spooners". A headline in the Minneapolis Tribune in 1923 read: "Glenwood Park Wants Wire Fence to Keep Out Spooners." The article explained Ms. Butler's thoughts that cats and dogs may leave a trail in the vegetation but spooners were the real problem. The full text read as follows:

It’s not the wild, voracious mosquito-
It’s not the snooping vagabond dog -
Nor is it the pussy-footing feline -
But it’s the demon surreptitious spooner thats brought the need for an encircling barbed wire fence around the wild flower garden in Glenwood Park to save plants of incalculable scientific value from destruction. A stray cat will pitter patter into the garden and leave a narrow trail. A dog seeking food perhaps in the shape of a ribbit (sic) will snoop through and leave a wider wallow -
But the spooning couple -
(Eloise Butler quote) “For destructive properties the army of tussock worms is a piker when compared with the Spooner” (1)

In a 1924 newspaper article (pdf) during an interview she was quoted saying “The fence is needed to keep our the few vandals who destroy in a few minutes the work of years and spoil the garden for the rest of the visitors.” The article concluded - “Tired of waiting years for it to be built, she finally is having it put up herself.” (2)

While this was may have been partially accomplished prior to 1924, the Park Board could not allocate funds to complete fencing. In the Summer of 1924, Eloise contracted herself, at her own expense, to have the fencing completed for a sum of $696.10. She paid $400 down, gave a note for $200 to be paid within a month or when the fence was completed, and the final amount by a note to be paid in the spring of 1925. We belive it mush have been completed proior to her annual Winter return to Malden Massachusetts in October.

One set of fences or two?
She could not afford to fence the entire area of the Garden, so we believe two enclosures were built which she referred to as the North Enclosure and the South Enclosure, the north protecting the wetland orchids, both enclosures are referenced with a “brook” running through them. She writes on July 16, 1924 "Lady Slipper meadow enclosed today, fence not yet completely braced." On July 20 she begins planting near that fence; she writes "Planted from Glenwood Park, 51 Aster azureus near southeast gate of lady slipper enclosure." She notes on Aug. 1st planting in the “north enclosure.” This would imply that there was another enclosure, more southern, but she does not mention actually planting anything in this “south enclosure” by name until October 8, 1925, although there are numerous entries in the log prior to that of planting “near fence” without stating which fence. (3)

It would be within the "north enclosure" that the Mallard Pool would be constructed in 1932. She noted in her log on July 7, 1932 "Mallard Pool completed in north enclosure." That places the "north enclosure" north of the current back fence of the Garden in the wetland area that has now grown wild.

Back in Malden, She writes to the Crones (Martha and William) that she had informed Park Superintendent Wirth about what she did and never asked for reimbursement. She was pleasantly surprised to receive a note from him promising a check for the full amount by early December. Thus she says “You may believe that I am very happy.” (4) Some of the fencing was of a temporary nature and it was not until 1938 that a permanent fence built by a WPA crew enclosed the Garden. But even then, the 1938 fence may not have enclosed everything as it was only 1,900 linear feet and in January 1939, Martha Crone reported that the Park Board workers were in putting in a new fence in the "lower enclosure" which would seem to be the "North enclosure" as the North section of the Garden is of lower elevation. (4)

Below: The 1938 Fence, just completed, erected by a WPA crew. Photo ©Walter Dahlberg.

1938 Fence

(1) Minneapolis Tribune article, 1923. Minnesota Historical Society, Martha Crone Papers.
(2) Minneapolis Tribune article, 1924. Minnesota Historical Society, Martha Crone Papers. (pdf copy)
(3) Eloise Butler's Garden Log.
(4) Letter to the Crones, November 29, 1924 from Malden, Massachusetts (pdf copy) Also Ken Avery notes April 1973.
(5) Martha Crone's Diary - 1939

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