In the early years of the Garden there was a small open pool in the wetland. In 1939 Garden Curator Martha Crone had a spring tapped on the west shore of that open pool in the wetland and it supplied a good flow of water. In later years she wanted visitors to have a close-up view of aquatic plants that were in and by the pool, so a trail through the center of the wetland was added in 1946. As a result of the dryness that could seriously affect the wetland area in certain years, Martha Crone had two more pools dug out in 1947. There were now three in total including the original wetland pool. In 1948 she had the two new pools enlarged.
Below: This photo from May 6, 1949 shows one of the new pools that had been enlarged the year before. The pools in the wetland subsequently silted in and swamp grass took over and the pools had to excavated several times, to preserve the open water. Gardener Ken Avery and assistant Ed Bruckelmeyer did the first excavation in 1961, removing swamp grass and digging out to a depth of 18 inches. The pools were not connected and if rainfall was not sufficient, the pools would be filled with a hose run from the city water supply in the Upland Garden, one pool at a time. So when Ken and Ed dug out the pools they created a channel from one to the other so that filling one would cause the others to fill also. By 1965 the pools were only 6 inches deep so Ken dug them out again, this time to a depth of two feet. By 1979 the pool channel was silted in and had to be dug out once more.
In the photo below taken on May 27, 1950, we see what was called "pool #3," two years after enlargement, with vegetation covering all scars.
Below: Here is another view of the marsh taken on the same day, May 27, 1950, from a different angle, with the same pool visible.
Below, in a photo from June 23, 2008, we see the vegetation of the wetland today. It was such a chore to keep the pools open that after digging them out in 1965 they were left to silt in. Without open water, a number of the water plants that Eloise Butler and Martha Crone had set out can no longer grow. There can be standing water in the wetland in the spring and during very rainy periods, but not open pools.
Below, in a photo from April 2008, the topography of the wetland area is clearly visible. The perspective is from the opposite direction from the photo above. The path follows that established by Martha Crone in 1946.
Below: In the spring the lack of open water creates a perfect environment for Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris ) which is prolific in the bog in early May.
For more information on the wetland at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden see our article on "Wetland History"