Upland Garden

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Winter 1946/1947

Martha Crone
Martha Crone in the Garden in a 1951 photo.

1947 completes the 41st year of the Garden and Martha Crones 15th year as Curator.

Many new plants set out in 1947 are, again like 1946, non-native, apparently an attempt to see what would grow in the new prairie area. Many did not last until the 1951 census. The source is given for some of new plants. With the development of the Upland Garden, it is incredible the amount of planting Martha Crone did in 1946 and 1947 and little wonder that her log is virtually devoid of mentioning bird activity, which she usually never neglected. Even the warbler migration is not noted. Birds are only mentioned three times - August 1st “Birds still singing,” Sept. 14 “Pileated woodpecker was working on the Oak tree on path to north of office” and a note on Sept. 24 that “a few Hummingbirds still here.” Martha religiously noted the arrival of the first Hummingbird and the departure of the last.

Spring 1947

Artic Blackberry
Artic Blackberry, Rubus arcticus, planted by Martha Crone in 1947 and 1950 and subsequently planted by Ken Avery in 1962. Photo ©Mary Clay Stensvold, USDA-NRCS Plants Database.

Spring was not agreeable the first two weeks of April. The first entry in the Garden log was April 1:

“Garden still snow and ice bound, no sign of green growth.” On April 5 & 6: “Heavy snow, paths in muddy condition, impossible to work anywhere.” (1)

April 14th found the 1st Snow Trilliums in bud and the Pasque Flowers. On April 17 the paths in the Garden were in fair Spring condition but more snow fell.

A large number of plants new to the Garden were introduced in April, all from Henderson’s Nursery in Greenburg Indiana. Of those, the following are new to the Garden and we note which ones survived until the 1951 census. "Native" refers to a plant found in the wild in Minnesota, at settlement time. "Introduced" means the plant is found here but originally imported from somewhere else. "Not native" means the plant has not been found in the wild and not introduced. Updated scientific names are given in [ ].

Carolina Rhododendron
Carolina Rhododendron planted by Martha Crone in 1947 as part of a group of Rhododendron species to show off the Woodland Garden. Photo ©Smithsonian Institution.

April 30th was the first warm day of Spring - 81 degrees. The month had been cold and rainy with 23 days of rain.

On May 3 Martha noted that all the recently planted Hepaticas (she planted the Sharp-lobed almost every year) were doing well and “one clump of Round-lobed Hepatica has 125 blossoms.” (1)

Another large group of plants new to the Garden were planted in May. Some of these do not have the source listed.

May ended with cold and frost on 27th. By the end of May over 2500 new plants were in the ground.

Summer 1947

Grass of Parnassus
Grass of Parnassus, the speciews Parnassia glauca, which is suspected to be what Martha Crone planted in 1947. Photo ©G D Bebeau

The water system for the Garden that Martha had requested was installed into the Upland Garden at the close of the season. The connection to the city water supply was made Northeast of the Garden at Xerxes Ave. and Chestnut Street. (1) The crew ran out of narrow diameter pipe and the final leg was built with larger diameter pipe, resulting in poor water pressure. Prior to this Martha had to bring water from home when needed for any seedlings if there was little rain. It would be 1964 before the connection would be extended down to the Woodland Garden. (3)

During the Summer months she added another 3,700 plants. Of those the following are new to the Garden and we note which ones survived until the 1951 census. Several of these species are questionable as her source is within Minnesota, but the plant does not grow here, nor ever collected here:

The last possible new plant was listed as “50 Wild Strawberry” without specifying the species. Both species of Wild Strawberry were listed on the 1951 census, but to this time only the Virginia Wild Strawberry, Fragaria virginiana, had been recorded. So it is possible that this is the point at which Fragaria vesca, the Woodland Strawberry, enters the Garden.

There had always been an open pool of water in the wetland part of the lower Garden. In 1947 Martha had two more dug out creating a series of three. She writes:

“A new item of interest added to the garden is a series of pools wherein are planted water lilies, pickerel-weed, lotus lily and water crowfoot. These pools are situated along the swamp trail where an intimate view of them may be had when in bloom.”(2)

Autumn 1947

Downy Gentian
Downy Gentian, Gentiana puberula, first introduced by Martha Crone in 1947

By the time the Garden closed the total count of plants set out in 1947 was 8,822. The following two plants set out in the Autumn are new to the Garden. Both were extant at the time of the 1951 census:

On October 22 Martha noted “many flowers still in bloom. Robins eating Mt. Ash berries, Temperature 88° Oct. 21.”

In addition Martha planted seeds of 52 species - a list that covers two pages of hand written notes. Most seeds were planted in flats near the office where they would over-winter as necessary for germination. Her planting continued throughout October and into November. The Garden season had been extended to the end of October for the first time this year. She noted on Nov. 7th: “Blizzard, starting like Armistice Day Storm.” Her last work of the year was planting seeds of Downy Gentian (Gentiana puberula) on the snow and in flats on Nov, 19th and a large Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea) on Nov. 24th that she had received from the “mum show”. She noted “Has been snowing every other day since the 7th. Cold & Wintery, altho the ground isn’t frozen under the snow.”

As in the previous year, there were some existing species that were planted in very large numbers at various times during the year. Rather than list them by season, here it the list for the year of such plants:

Trillium nivale, Snow Trillium, 222 plants
Hepatica acutiloba, Sharp-lobed Hepatica, 1,335
Viola pedata, Bird’s-foot Violet, 575
Lobelia cardinalis, Cardinal Flower, 670
Osmunda regalis, Royal Fern, 111
Clelone obliqua, Red Turtlehead, 150
Tiarella cordifolia, Foam Flower, 135
Many of these were seedling that Martha had seeded in flats the prior year.

Ram's-head Lady's-slipper
Ramshead Lady's-slipper, Cypripedium arietinum, although planted many times, this is probably the species missing from Martha Crone's Lady's-slipper list in 1947. Photo by Matha Crone on June 9, 1954.

In her annual report to the Park Board Martha again thanks Clinton Odell as follows:

“I again express my sincere appreciation to Mr. Clinton M. Odell for the splendid assistance rendered, also for the 150 plant markers added to the large number already contributed the previous year.” (2)

She then reports:

“Appreciation of the beauty of wild flowers is steadily growing as evidenced by the attendance having increased to 38,000 this season.”
“More trails have been established through the swamp which permit easy access to heretofore unused territory. These trails stimulate an interest in, and an appreciation of our wild flora as well as stirring a vital urge for visitors to come again.”(2)

She notes that “the four species of Lady’s-slippers were second to none in beauty.”(2)
This would eliminate at least one or two species that had been in the Garden. Based on her planting records and log notes it would seen those still there would be Cypripedium acaule, the Stemless; C. candidum, the Small White; C. parviflorum var. makasin, the smaller flowered of the Yellow; and C. reginae, the Showy. These had been planted almost every year. The one most probably missing is C. arietinum, The Ramshead. That had not been planted since 1937 and was not replanted until 1950.

The second “possibly missing” one is the larger flowered variety of the Yellow, C. parviflorum var. pubescens. That had not been planted since 1941, although it is possible she counted both flower sizes as one of the four in existence. The Ramshead was always difficult to grow. Martha planted it again in 1950, ’51 and ’53 and Ken Avery tried again in 1974 but they were always short lived after transplanting.

Her next note is that “the fern glen was a picture of green loveliness the entire season.” As the current Fern Glen was not yet developed, she is referring to Eloise Butler’s ‘fernery’ located on the side hill in the lower Garden.

About the extended season, she writes: “The Garden’s extended season made it possible to properly mulch plants for winter protection, which must be delayed until after freezing. A great deal of dead timber was also removed at this time. It is hope that this extension will be carried on.”(2)

(1) Garden Log - 1947

(2) Annual Reports of the Garden Curator to the Board of Park Commissioners - dated Jan 24, 1948 to Charles E. Doell.

(3) The Fringed Gentian™, Vol. 26 No.1. Winter 1978, Interview with Martha Crone.

Photo top of page: The Upland Garden after 8 years of development. Photo by Martha Crone on July 16, 1953.

To History of: Previous Year ----------- Subsequent Year

Year chart - all years
Garden History Archive

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


Martha Crone's Annual Report to the Board of Park Commissioners dated Jan 24, 1948.

Martha Crone's Garden Log and her 1951 Census of plants in the Garden.

Various papers and correspondence of Eloise Butler and Martha Crone in the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Photos by Martha Crone are from her collection of Kodachromes that was given to the Friends by her daughter Janet following Martha's death in 1989.

Historical Climatology of Minneapolis-St. Paul Area by Charles Fisk.

Friends Home Page

©2017 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. All photos are the property of The Friends unless otherwise credited. Photos credited to others 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. "http://www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org" - 012517