Susan Wilkins’ first year as Garden Curator.
Samples of The Friends’ 50th Anniversary Book, 50 Years of Friends, were presented to the Friends Board at the Jan. 26th Board Meeting. 300 copies were to be ordered and it would be distributed in early summer. Marylynn Pulscher, Environmental Education Director for the Park Board, attended the Board Meeting and reported on the progress of finding the new Curator, and work needed on the Martha E. Crone Shelter building. The Friend’s were to pay for new downspouts for the building but that was not approved pending the hiring of a new Curator. (2)
The big event then of the first quarter of 2004 was the selection of Naturalist Susan Wilkins to succeed Cary George as Garden Curator. After the retirement of Cary George it was uncertain that the Park Board budget would support a full time gardener at Eloise Butler, but when the 2004 budget was approved, the position was retained. (1)
By late spring Susan Wilkins had been selected as the fifth person to look over the Garden since its founding in 1907. Furthermore, she was give the title of Garden Curator, at title that both Eloise Butler and Martha Crone had, but was denied to Ken Avery and Cary George, who were always referred to as “Gardener.” Susan would continue the vision of Eloise Butler. Cary George would be available during the year to help with the transition.
In the Friends’ newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™, Naturalist Tammy Mercer wrote about Minnesota’s migratory birds, Naturalist Willow Rheault wrote about ending her career as a Park Board Naturalist in order to return to Maine - the home state of Eloise Butler. Volunteer and Friends Board member Nita Lussenhop was in the “Meet the Volunteers” column. Friends’ President Steve Pundt noted that a special fund have been started in 2002 to cover the estimated $15,000 cost of completing the wrought iron fencing near the back gate. The project was linked with the Friends’ 50th Anniversary. Contributions were still be solicited, as the fence would not actually be erected until 2005.
Weather: The winter of 2003/2004 was very light on snow - almost nothing in December and January, with a lot in February and very little in March. The total season was well below average. There was no snow on the ground as the opening of the Garden season approached.
1. The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 52, No. 1, Winter 2004 (pdf)
2. Minutes of the Friends’ Board, Jan. 26, 2004.
The new Garden Curator Susan Wilkins expressed her thoughts on the new job:
“As a lover of historic gardens, I am looking forward to delving deeper into the life and vision of Eloise Butler to explore her thoughts and insights about this unique wildflower garden. With this information the Garden can grow and evolve in the spirit of Eloise Butler’s century-old vision.”(1)
The Garden opened on April 1st - normal date, but different since the last few years have had delayed opening due to snow. Temperatures in the Spring were above the average. April saw little rain but in May it was abundant. The Garden Naturalists observed the return of the fox family and eventually saw seven kits.
The Friends held a Board Meeting on April 12 at which President Steve Pundt provided an update on various projects: The Ken Avery Memorial Project committee was to begin meeting; the status of the back fence replacement project was discussed and an approval vote was taken to pay for new rain gutters for the Martha Crone Shelter - cost $2,360. Vice President Pam Weiner had been to Park Board meetings about the placement of the mountain bike trail in Wirth Park and reported that it would now be entirely north of Highway 55, away from the Garden buffer zone. (2)
The Annual Meeting of the Friends was held at the Martha Crone Shelter in the Garden on Sat., May 22, 2004. In addition to the officers listed below, the following were elected to the Board of Directors: Steve Benson (Finance Committee), Harriet Betzold, Joy Davis (membership), Launa Ellison, Ann Godfrey, Larry Gravitz, Marguerite Harbison (memorials), Lyle Johnson, Lisa Locken (newsletter editor), Constance Pepin, Sally Pundt, Jack Schultz, Shirley Schultz (volunteers). Constance Pepin became the new historian - filling a vacant position.
Elected to officer positions, at the following board meeting, were Steve Pundt, President; Pam Weiner, Vice-president; Gary Bebeau, Treasurer; Juanita Lussenhop, Secretary.
Curator Susan Wilkins reported that 180 new plants have been inserted in the southern bog area, the rain gutters had been ordered for the Shelter and that the upland oaks were not doing well. There was no consensus as to the cause but in 1989 Gardener Cary George had reported similar problems. (3)
The Board authorized the funding for 82 feet of new wrought iron fence to replace the chain link fence by the back gate of the Garden. Cost would be $15,256.
A committee was formed to help the Park Board with planning for the 100th Anniversary of the Garden in 2007 and an appreciation gathering for retired Gardener Cary George was set for June 29th.
The Spring issue of The Fringed Gentian™ included much information on Susan Wilkins, and an article by Tammy Mercer, MPRB Naturalist, about finding native plants and a list of suppliers and resources. Friends member and volunteer Phoebe Waugh was the person in “Meet the Volunteers.” (1)
Note 1 The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 52, No. 2, Spring 2004 (PDF File)
Note 2: Friends Board Meeting minutes April 12, 2004
Note 3: Friends Board Meeting minutes May 22, 2004
On the evening of Tuesday, June 29, 2004 members of the Friends and the Garden's MPRB Staff met at the Martha Crone Shelter for a farewell-retirement celebration for Cary George. To remind him of his gardening career he was presented with an inscribed “golden” shovel and trowel. All who could be there gave profound thanks for the care of the Garden that had been entrusted to him over the years and wished he and wife Janet great and happy days in their retirement.
The Ken Avery Memorial committee reported that the project (a bird watching area) would be located within the Garden and be on a small plateau at the back of the Garden half way up the hill between the Woodland and Upland Garden.
During the summer the new copper rain gutters were installed by Sela at the Martha Crone Shelter at a cost to the Friends of $2,360. (photo above)
In The Fringed Gentian™ Curator Susan Wilkins reported that a Water Quality Intern for the Park Board, Youa Yang, was teaching naturalists a few phrases of Hmong on Garden related topics as many Hmong speakers frequented the Garden. Naturalists reported that the warbler migrations was more or less finished by May 30th and summer nesting for the locals was beginning.
A more lengthy article was on life-long learning and covered the experiences of 5-year olds visiting the Garden and those over 55 visiting via one of the Elder Learning Institutes from the University of Minnesota. Friends member Steve Benson is director of that program.
Friends' member Kathy Connelly reviewed a number of comments made in the Shelter Guest Book from 2003. There were visitors from 34 states and six foreign countries. The most commonly used descriptive terms were “gem” or “jewel.” (1) Kathie Fournier was the volunteer in “Meet the Shelter Volunteers.”
The weather in summer was quite average - no extreme temperature spikes or dips and moderate rainfall without any gully-washers.
Note 1 The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 52, No. 3, Summer 2004 (PDF File)
It was reported in The Fringed Gentian™ that one of the plants added to the Garden this year was Nodding Ladies Tresses, Spiranthes cernua, an orchid that blooms in the fall. The earliest introduction of this species to the Garden was by Eloise Butler in 1909 and numerous times in later years. Martha Crone also planted it in 1938. Blooming on the prairie this fall for the first time in some years was the Downy Gentian, Gentiana puberula. A number of volleyball-sized giant puffballs were found following a September rain. Eloise Butler used to report on finding many of these along the same East Woodland trail (Violet Way) in an area she termed “Puffball Flats”. Ninety years earlier on Sept. 15th, 1914, she had found her 22nd giant puffball that year.
Curator Susan Wilkins reported on Oak Wilt. Some of the Red Oaks in the Upland Garden are still being affected by this pathogen. Friends President Steve Pundt compared Eloise Butler’s top ten most abundant trees to the current group of most abundant - only 5 are on both lists - White Oak, Red Oak, Ironwood, Red Maple, Basswood.
Naturalist Tammy Mercer wrote an article “In Memory of a Little Red Bat” in which she describes a Sept. 7th adventure when a young boy came running into the Shelter to say he had found an injured bat, which turned out to be a migrating Red Bat, not a species commonly found in the metro area.
The book “Butterflies of North America” was reviewed. Naturalist intern Satoko Muratake and her moss garden in the Fern Glen were shown. (1)
On October 30 a crew of volunteers spent a cold rainy Saturday removing Buckthorn from the Fern Glen.
A crew of forty volunteers had staffed the Shelter this past season and a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon was held on November 6th at the Golden Valley American Legion. Friends Board member Harriet Betzold did the organizing. (Photos below)
The Friends held a Board meeting on October 4 at the Golden Valley Historical Society. Committees were working on the Ken Avery memorial and the 2007 Garden Anniversary. It was noted that the project to replace the chain-link fence at the back gate with wrought iron like that at the front gate would be completed yet this year. (2)
Weather: 2004 was a year of just under average total precipitation and well under average snowfall. Temperatures were close to average as was rainfall. Late fall into December was very dry with little snow.
Note 1 The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 52, No. 4, Fall 2004 (PDF File)
Note 2 Friends Board Meeting minutes October 4, 2004
Photo top of page: A gathering of Friends in the Martha Crone Shelter. L to R: Shirley Schultz, Joy Davis, Launa Ellison,Juanita Lussenhop (back to camera), unidentified in back, MPRB Naturalist Donna Thottungal, Connie Pepin, Ann Godfrey, Harriet Betzold, Unidentified. Photo by Lisa Locken.
Meeting Minutes and correspondence of The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden.
Archive of the Friends Newsletter The Fringed Gentian™
Vol. 52, # 1 Winter 2004, Lisa Locken, Editor
Vol. 52, # 2, Spring 2004, Lisa Locken, Editor
Vol. 52, # 3, Summer 2004, Lisa Locken, Editor
Vol. 52, # 4, Autumn 2004, Lisa Locken, Editor
Historical Climatology of Minneapolis-St. Paul Area by Charles Fisk.