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Then and Now at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Mallard Pool and the Rustic Bridge - 7 Decades Apart - Plus 2015 update

In the photo below, we see Eloise Butler crossing the rustic bridge at the head of the Mallard Pool. The year is 1932. She has physically weakened due in part to neuritis and from burns received in 1929 when a heating pad caught fire while she was sleeping. The development of this pool was long on gestation and short on actual building. She had dreamed for many years of creating an aquatic pool for special plants and the site at the north end of the Garden where the bog drains out was the best site in the Garden. In 1917 she had a concrete dam constructed where the water channel left the Garden, but she could not move the idea of a large pool to reality until 1932 when the pool was quickly constructed by an unemployed man she hired and another was employed to build a rustic bridge of tamarack poles to span the small stream the flowed into the pool. When a mallard was soon seen in it, it became the “mallard pool.” Eloise had planned extensive plantings around the pool and these were completed by Martha Crone in 1933.


Eloise Butler at Mallard Pool

Photo above courtesy Minnesota Historical Society MH5.9 MP4.1 r354

In the photo below, we see the 1990s version of the rustic bridge located further into the Garden from where the original was. This bridge was installed in the winter of 1989/90, replacing an old wood dock that have been brought in many years previously taking the place of Eloise's original bridge. The north Garden border was adjusted in later years and the pool size could not be maintained. The current pool was renovated in 1992 when it was dredged, a liner put in, a new rock dam put in place, and the back fence was re-aligned. The pool is under consideration for restoration again today, as the progress of time and changes in the environment have worked their ways on the area. It is easy to see that the open water pool of 1932 is now much filled in with grass and sediment and it has only a small amount of open water in the summer months.

Mallard Pool

Photo above dated April 16, 2008 - photo by G D Bebeau

Below: The rocky outcrop creating a dam at the pool edge - created in 1992 and seen here in 2008

Mallard pool dam

Photo Below - The cedar bridge when new - Spring 1990. Photo by Martha Hellander.

Bridge when new

Below: The pool area is still appropriately named, as these Mallards indicate. They were found scouting out the pool area on April 29, 2008.

Mallards at Mallard Pool

Cary George Wetland Project

Cary GeorgeAs a tribute to Cary George, As a tribute to Cary George, the Friends raised funds to restore critical footpath structures in the Garden’s wetland habitat. These trail segments, including the wooden bridge next to Mallard Pool and the three wooden walkways south on Lady’s Slipper Lane, are popular among visitors and were very much in need of replacement. It was true for Cary, as it was for Eloise Butler, that the wetland is the heart of the Garden. We believe that this project in honor of the fourth Gardener to be a testimonial to his service as well as to the Founder and her vision.

These trail segments have been redesigned and a boardwalk installed in July 2015 for safety and accessibility. Materials and workmanship of high quality will provide decades of use in this beautiful part of the Garden, where Cary worked so diligently to replant and nurture Eloise's Tamarack grove..

Details and Photos of the project

2015 boardwalk