The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden
Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary
by Garden Curator Susan Wilkins
The anniversary year at the Wildflower Garden has been a delightful one. The seasons have been filled with their usual graces. Spring with her wild flurry of excitement once again offered up her highly anticipated blooms for us all to enjoy. Summer with her magnificent children in tow dazzled the crowds enraptured by the colors and textures of a living tapestry in full splendor. Autumn, just around the corner, is already making her first appearances with the changing colors, the late season blossoms peaking and a decisive coolness riding on the breeze. All of these wonderful things have come to pass for yet another year at the Wildflower Garden; 100 years of inspired beauty perfected by the rhythms of the natural world.
One thing that has been a bit different at the Wildflower Garden this year was the richness of special events, activities, programs and press in local and regional media to celebrate and honor the Garden’s 100th year of existence. Thanks to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s commitment to making this a special season and an inspired start to the next century at the Wildflower Garden, Environmental Operations staff was able to plan, organize and manifest many wonderful events, activities and programs to the benefit of all.
The three big celebratory events— A Century of Seasons, Showy Lady’s Slipper Day and the Big Birthday Bash—highlighted the wonders of the Garden to seasoned visitors and to myriad new visitors as well creating an atmosphere of joy, possibility and reverie.
Although these events drew quite a bit of attention, the daily workings of the Garden were also enhanced this season and touched the lives and well-being of many people and plants alike. Thanks to the wonderful staff of naturalists, interns and our very own education coordinator we have been able to effectively care for the Garden, with delicate and decided hands, and to educate more children and adults this season than ever before. Here are two highlights: With two interns starting in April, staff was able to plant 1,500 native plants and to commit over 180 hours to garlic mustard and dames rocket removal and 90 hours of buckthorn removal to date. This is in addition to the regular maintenance of the Garden’s collection of over 500 plant species as well as the Garden’s trails and facilities.
A wonderful new program called City Kids brought 150 kids from North Minneapolis and beyond to Wirth Park for a 9-week summer camp(see article this issue). Each week, Monday-Thursday, small groups visited the Wildflower Garden and participated in the wonderful programs that our new Education Program Coordinator, Erin Dietrich, created and led with the assistance of staff naturalists and interns.
Many of the participants told Erin that visiting the Wildflower Garden was a favorite part of their summer camp experience in Wirth Park. Wouldn’t Eloise be pleased!
In addition the Wildflower Garden was featured on WCCO and in the magazines, Midwest Living, American Gardener and Northern Gardener as well as in several local papers and publications. All of this press brought a heightened awareness of the importance of the Wildflower Garden to the local and regional community. The added attention also drew a plethora of new visitors this season, each with their own connections to make to this special place.
Thanks to the Friends, high-quality posters, note cards and a DVD were developed to commemorate the Wildflower Garden’s 100th anniversary. The proceeds from the poster and note cards sales are generously being donated to the Wildflower Garden and the DVD will be made available, via the Friends, as an educational tool. In addition to creating these items the Friends have also funded the creation of a new, custom-made wooden screen door for the Visitors Shelter. Thanks to the Friends for these 100th anniversary season contributions.
Although not new this year, I would also like to recognize the great work being carried out by a few dedicated volunteers who are responsible for the coordination of the Shelter Volunteer Program and the Plant Patrol Program. Thanks to Ann Godfrey, Jim Proctor and Kathleen Connelly for their generous commitment of time, energy and expertise this season. Also not new, but always appreciated, thanks to each and every one of the many volunteers who have assisted with invasive species removal, volunteering in the Shelter and/or volunteering on special event days.
All of this in addition to the regular education programs, special tours and activities led by our fabulous staff naturalists; the on-going maintenance and care of the Garden that Park Board staff already carries out each and every day; and of course the great contributions of time and energy made by our committed volunteers. This has been a great start to the next 100 years of native plant splendor and inspired environmental education at the Wildflower Garden. Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this special centennial season.
p.s. It is not over yet! Join us for our last special event of the season: 100 trees for 100 Years . Saturday, September 29th, 9am-4pm
This article was originally published in the Fringed Gentian™, Fall 2007, Vol 55-3.