Summer 2021 VOL. 69 No. 2
It has been quite a while since the last update on the restoration work by the Friends Invasive Plant Action Group (FIPAG) in the Volunteer Stewardship Area (VSA) surrounding Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. For more than 15 years, FIPAG has been hard at work, weeding garlic mustard in the spring and buckthorn in the fall to keep invasives away from the garden. In the last few years, we have added to our toolbox of techniques that previously consisted mostly of hand-pulling and weed-wrenching buckthorn, roots and all. Now we are also using a brand of shovel called a Root Slayer, and a cutting technique called “critical cutting.” The new techniques help limit soil disturbance and erosion, especially on slopes, which is vital to protect the ability of the ecosystem to recover. We have also been doing some planting of natives from a local nursery into some of the less diverse, more bare areas to help things along.
Root Slayer shovels are well designed to cut through roots with their concave digging edge that helps center large roots on the cutting edge, rather than bouncing off them. The sides of the narrow shovel are serrated to cut through additional roots. This allows us to cut out the core roots of the buckthorn and leave behind the lateral roots, which rarely re-sprout. We disturb much less soil this way and kill the plant in one visit. It is somewhat difficult work, but efficient. The downside is it does still disturb some soil and create the opportunity for erosion.
The second technique named “critical cutting” involves cutting the buckthorn high on the stem, after it has leafed out in the spring, depleting its stored energy. Repeated stripping off the new growth in the following months and years leads to the shrub’s death. This is most efficient in areas of deep shade where the plants are less vigorous. This disturbs no soil at all, which is great, but is quite time-consuming and labor-intensive.
Using a mix of all these techniques, we are close to a time when there will be no more mature buckthorn plants in the entire VSA, possibly this year! We will still have several years of pulling seedlings and stragglers, and there will always be new seeds brought in by birds but reproducing buckthorn will be gone.
Much of the VSA that has been invasive-free for years is looking great. Cherries, elderberries, dogwoods and nanny berries are proliferating. Wildflowers are becoming more numerous. It is so heartening to see this occur, and to know that these natives provide habitat and food to hundreds more species of insects, and therefore birds, than the monocultural buckthorn they replace. That said, we are experimenting with planting some plants in bare areas to add diversity back that seems lacking after years of domination by non-natives. This spring we’ve planted small amounts of mayapple, big-leaved aster, wild ginger, maidenhair fern, and woodland phlox. This fall we are considering bare-root seedlings of bladdernut, hazelnut, and a few other appropriate but underrepresented shrubs and understory trees.
Thanks to all of you have been able to help us over the years!❖
Jim Proctor co-chair of FIPAG and a Friends board member. Photos: Shovel courtesy Radius Garden. Others - Friends.
Below: Volunteers clearing buckthorn in 2019.
Below: The Maple Glen in the fall of 2020 free of buckthorn with native shrubs growing.
As I am planting my vegetable garden, containers, and adding new garden flowers, the staff at the Garden has been busy planting this spring. Why are they planting, when it’s a wildflower garden? Don’t plants just grow, and propagate? No…trees die, is sunnier and supports different vegetation, and critters do some damage. Yes…the fence to keep out the deer and trails to keep us humans off the plants do help. According to Gary Bebeau’s historical notes on the Friends’ website, one hundred years ago, Eloise Butler planted Narrow-leaved Leek, Sweet Black-eyed Susan, and Queen Anne’s lace. Seventy-five years ago, Martha Crone planted 175 Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily plants, unique to Minnesota counties: Rice, Goodhue, and Steele. The trout lily is a spring highlight of many Garden visitors.
Each year along with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Friends provide funds to pay for plantings in the Garden. Your membership fees and donations support this endeavor. Martha Crone, wrote in the first Fringed Gentian™, January 1953, “It requires sufficient funds, help and material to do justice to such a unique garden which is conducted for the preservation of herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees.”
The board will be reviewing the membership fees this year. In 1953 membership was $3 and over the last decade $15. I encourage you to invite a friend or two to become members. In our world of recycling, reusing, and reducing, support the Garden with a birthday, graduation, anniversary or any occasion gift in honor of your special person(s).
This year for our Annual Member Meeting in September, we will have a guest speaker, John Moriarty, author of A Field Guide to our Natural World in the Twin Cities and one of the co-authors of the updated Minnesota’s Natural Heritage. My hope is an annual speaker will become a Friends’ tradition. I look forward to your joining us for this event in September. More details will be mailed to you in August.
Please feel free to contact me with your ideas and suggestions at email@example.com.
May the Garden Be with You ❖
New plants getting ready for the new home in the Garden. Photo by Jennifer Olson
The Minnesota Dwarf Trout-lily referred to in the President’s column was first identified in 1871 when Faribault teacher Mary Hodges sent a collected example to Professor Asa Gray at Harvard. He determined it was a previously un-recorded species and gave it the botanical name Erythronium propullans. They exist only in the ravines of an area around the Straight, Canon, Little Cannon and North Zumbro Rivers.
This is the only known population in North America and is thought to be of post ice-age origin. It is the only Minnesota species on the the Federal Endangered Plant List. Without protection of the restricted habitat, encroachment by development or other factors causing habitat loss, will lead to extinction the species in the wild.
In a protected area, such as the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, the species is long-lived. More details are available at this link.❖
Late summer is upon us and many sun-loving plants of the Wildflower Garden are in full bloom. The upland garden is a verdant meadow of bee balm, joe pye weed, culver’s root, and coneflower to name just a few of the dozens of species in bloom. The wetland garden is graced by tufts of pink meadowsweet and magenta colored swamp milkweed. Along the boardwalk, swaths of purple-stemmed and flat-topped asters are in bud and soon will be flowering. Even with the heat and long days, summer progresses so quickly and here we are, already looking at the late summer blossoms about to start.
Another great way to keep in touch with the Garden and what’s happening there is to keep in touch with the Garden’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
This past spring was delightful as well, with mild weather and just enough rain to allow for many of the woodland wildflower species to bloom for weeks on end. In many years, due to spikes of higher spring temperatures, strong winds, or extended dry spells, many species only bloom for days. The prolonged bloom times for many species allowed for more overlap of blooming plants and the layered display of woodland wildflowers for several weeks was truly synchronistic and a feast for the eyes and spirit.
Starting the week of July 12, two popular Garden programs were reintroduced with great joy, Garden Story Time and Early Birders. With two weeks of programming underway and a full group of participants for each offering, it’s been wonderful for staff to be able to offer a limited number of programs in a thoughtful and safe manner to a very receptive audience. Plans are underway to bring a few more program offerings into the fold this autumn. Updates will be posted on the Garden’s webpage and social media accounts.
You can stay connected to Garden highlights and happenings by visiting the Garden’s Facebook and Instagram pages @EBWGMpls And, if you can, be sure to stop out for a visit soon to be awed by the abundance and beauty of the Garden this summer.❖
Fireweed, or Great Willow Herb (Chamerion angustifolium), was an elusive plant for Eloise Butler. - Her friend Gertrude Cram told Martha Crone that nothing would ever induce it to grow for her.(1) Eloise imported the first plants, including a suitcase full acquired during a train breakdown on her way back to Minneapolis from Malden.(2)
Fireweed is an international plant, found in Europe and North America.The origin of the name is from the belief that it primarily colonized recently burnt-over sites, but other plants do likewise and some of those are also called “fireweed.” In reality any recent bare spot is game for this plant. Mrs. Grieve (A Modern Herbal, 1931) notes that the plant would spring up in a town, self-sown, on waste ground recently cleared of centuries old buildings, specifically mentions areas in London where the ground remained in a wasted state for some time, though no one could explain where the seeds came from.
Paleo-archaeologist Mary Leakey wrote that upon returning to London in 1946 from Kenya after the Blitz and the War there were unfilled craters and uncleared rubble everywhere. "Later in the year we saw some of the devastated areas in the city become pink with flowering spikes of willow-herb, which had colonized the open spaces and was by now well established and thriving there.”(3)
It has found its sweet spot in the Garden along Goldenrod Trail where it has thrived for years now. More details about the plant on our plant information page.
1. Letter to Crone, August 1934.
2. Experiences in Collecting, 1911
3. Disclosing the Past. Doubleday 1984
Text - Gary Bebeau
Doubtless Everyone Would select as the crowning wild flower for the calendar months of the growing season in Minneapolis the pasque flower for April, violets for May, roses for June and lilies for July.
Of our three native lilies the Turk’s-cap, although not the lily of Palestine, may be said to surpass the glory of Solomon, as it is arrayed in recurved orange-red petals flecked with spots of purple. Sometimes as many as forty blossoms are borne on a single plant. (1) Photo below.
Beautiful, also, are the yellow swamp lily, with floral leaves spotted with brown and less recurved than those of the Turk’s-cap and the Wood Lily, with an erect, cup-like flower of deep, glowing red. The vivid colors of all these lilies were developed in crucibles fired by summer’s fiercest noon-tide heat.
Troops of Black-eyed Susans boldly stare at roamers over the hillsides. As we return Susan’s unblinking gaze we see that her eyes are a velvety, purplish brown instead of black. This coneflower is a composite. The “eye” is made up of many small, tubular flowers, and each yellow eyelash is also a flower.
Another composite adorned with yellow ray petals and towering in splendor above its competitors in rich, alluvial soil, is the Cup Plant. The large leaves, arranged in pairs along the stem, are united at the base to form a deep cup for holding water. This may serve the double purpose of tiding the plant over a dry spell and of keeping unwelcome, crawling insects from the flowers. People in the tropics use a similar means to keep the ants from food by inserting the legs of the dining tables in dishes of water.
Michigan Lily growing in the Upland Garden.
The interesting Rosin, or Compass Plant of the prairie is of the same genus as the cup plant. Its leaves are cut edgewise and point due north and south. Persons lost on a trackless, uninhabited prairie might find their bearings by this vegetable compass. An army officer stationed on the western plains, the first observer of the plant, thought the leaves must have the properties of the magnetic needle. Failing to prove this theory by experiments, he forwarded specimens of the Silphium to Dr. Asa Gray, the American Darwin, who suggested that the peculiar position of the leaves was for the purpose of avoiding the direct rays of the sun in order to check too great a loss of water by transpiration.
Since that time “polarity” has been observed in the leaves of many other plants growing in drought regions or in exposed situations, as the eucalyptus trees of Australia. Such trees, of course, afford no shade. The habit may be noted in the roadside weed prickly lettuce, and in some degree even in the garden lettuce.
To subdue the brilliant orange and reds of the lilies and composites, Mother Nature has planted among them with judicious and generous hand various white flowers, as
Veronica virginica, with feathery spires of bloom, some branched like candelabras, topping slender stems, clothed at intervals with whorls of narrow, pointed leaves. It is popularly called Culver’s Root, or Culver’s Physic, because one of that name extracted a specific from the root. (Photo below)
The shrub-like Ceanothus or New Jersey Tea, seemingly covered with sea foam and mist, has drifted from the Atlantic to the valley of the Mississippi. This plant has historic interest as well as refined beauty. It is well that it grows in prodigal masses in wide distribution. For, after the Boston Tea Party, a brew of the leaves of the Ceanothus plenished the teapots of our revolutionary forebears.
Massachusetts clergyman Manasseh Cutler wrote in 1774: "The leaves of this shrub have been much used by the common people, in some parts of the country, in the form of India tea; and is, perhaps, the best substitute the country affords. They immerse the fresh leaves in a boiling decoction of the leaves and branches of the same shrub, and then dry them with a gentle heat. The tea, when the leaves are cured in this way, has an agreeable taste, and leaves a roughness on the tongue somewhat resembling that of the bohea tea.” (2)
Below: A group of Culver's Root in the Garden in late summer.
Dusky glens are illuminated by the Starry Campion, thus refuting the poet who says that the night has a thousand stars and the day but one. The poignant beauty of the flower is due to the delicate white-fringed petals that cap the green calyx bell. (3)
An additional yellow flower deserves praise: One of our finest native, yellow flowered plants is the Great St. Johnswort, Hypericum ascyron. It may be seen in rich lowland about Minnehaha. It is tall and sturdy, a profuse bloomer and interesting in bud and in fruit. The multiplicity of the stamens gives a light-some grace to the flowers of this family. The flower of this species is large, measuring some three inches across. The petals, when aging, roll up lengthwise, forming a spidery appearance, which adds variety to the inflorescence, together with the striking buds and seedpods.
We can but wonder that with all its merits this plant has not been seized upon for cultivation. In the wild garden in Glenwood Park, it is well established in two colonies.
A Note a caution for gardeners:
Why, for instance, because a neighbor has a beautiful plant on his premises should every one in the vicinity straightway fill his grounds with the same in monotonous reiteration? Among the hosts of ornamental plants may not something else be selected besides hydrangea, scarlet rambler, canna and golden glow to prevent satiety? If a plant is “all the rage” it is the very best reason why one should fall out of line and imitate nature in her endless variety.❖
(1) Illustrated on both pages is the Michigan Lily, L. michiganense, which is native to Minnesota. The Turk’s-cap, L. superbum, is widely planted but not native. Both are referred to as “Turk’s-cap”and Eloise planted the latter in 1908.
(2) This text is taken from Merritt Fernald’s "Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America," 1943, Harper and Row.
(3) Silene stellata is sometimes called Widowsfrill. Eloise first planted this species in the wildflower garden in 1910.
The text is by Eloise Butler and was taken from her writings of 1911/1912, primarily from the 1911 series of newspaper columns published every Sunday in the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune. When the Board of Park Commissioners in 1911 made permanent the space allocated to the garden in Glenwood Park and created the position of curator for Eloise, she used these articles and many others to publicize the new Wild Botanic Garden. All of her 1911 essays can be read on the Friends’ website at this link.
Eloise Butler’s photo is ca 1921, courtesy Minneapolis Central Library. Wood Lily photo from an old Kodachrome taken by Martha Crone June 22, 1949. All other photos G D Bebeau.
Minnesota’s Natural Heritage Second Edition 2021 By: John R. Tester, Susan M. Galatowitsch, Rebecca A. Montgomery, and John J. Moriarty Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Reviewed by Jennifer Olson
At the book launch on January 21, 2021 hosted by the Bell Museum, Minnesota was lauded for its uniqueness with three of the world’s ten biomes: the northern coniferous forests, the deciduous forests, and the prairie, each with its lakes, wetlands, streams and rivers. It reminded me, that the 15 acre Wildflower Garden was developed to display a wide variety of Minnesota’s native plants in a naturalistic way, conveying the feel and structure of some on our state’s truly wild spaces. Minnesota is near the center of North America resulting in its climate of high and low temperatures and moderate precipitation producing our biodiversity of vegetation.
12,000 years ago, as the glaciers receded, the landscape of our state radically changed. Tester in his preface identifies population growth over the past 200 years impacting our land more so as we mine, log, and clear land for agriculture, industry, and housing. University of Minnesota Professor of Ecology, John Tester wrote the First Edition of Minnesota’s Natural Heritage in 1995. Because of the significant changes in Minnesota’s natural heritage in the last 25 years he collaborated with Professor Galatowitsch of the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, Professor Montgomery of the Department of Forest Resources, and John Moriarty, Three Rivers Park District wildlife senior manager to update Minnesota’s Natural Heritage to enhance our understanding of Minnesota’s ecosystems.
The ten chapters in both editions bear the same titles accompanied by wonderful photographs, maps and diagrams, many from the 1995 edition. However, each chapter now ends with Trends and Restoration and Management highlights. The “Deciduous Forests” chapter speaks to fragmentation of the forests, unable to support animal species with large home ranges, with loss of both animal and plant biodiversity. The forest understory declines secondary to deer browsing and non-native invasive species like earthworms and buckthorn which interfere with forest regeneration.
The emerald ash borer and the gypsy moth kill or weaken trees. Climate change will double the number of oaks, but frequent and longer droughts will contribute to the loss of the maple-basswood and boreal-pine forests. The challenge is to restore and maintain the forests that we have through collaboration of state and federal agencies, universities, nonprofit organizations, and private landowners.
Our warming climate impacts our coniferous forests with projections that these forests will not exist in Minnesota by 2100. With European settlement 18 million acres of Minnesota was turned into farmland. Only 235,000 acres of tallgrass prairie remains. In the last 25 years the amount of native protected prairie has increased from 48,000 to 120,000 acres. 90% of the wetlands in prairie have been lost and 40-60% in the deciduous forests. But Minnesota is meeting its goal of “no wetland loss”. Lake degradation is related to its surrounding environment, and the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes were a successful restoration through the Clean Water Partnership Project. Our streams and rivers are in better condition than 30 years ago when the Clean Water Act was starting, but still nitrates have increased 75% in our rivers.
Chapter 10 is “The Future” – twice the length of the First Edition’s chapter. The future of Minnesota’s ecosystems depends on an informed public through their individual actions, their voice in local land use decisions and participation in the legislative process.
I believe Eloise Butler would agree with John Tester, “The natural world has benefits for everyone.” This is a fine reference book for the citizens of Minnesota to comprehend our ecosystems and its future. Next time you visit garden, there will be a Minnesota’s Natural Heritage book in the Shelter for you to peruse.❖
Jennifer Olson is President of the Friends.
Passing of two members
John Haldeman- 48 year member
Marguerite Harbison - 27 year member
Marguerite was a Friends Director from 1994 until 2005, served as memorials chair and helped organize volunteer appreciation events.
A gift in their honor can simply be a means of honoring a living person or some group
use this as an alternate type gift for a holiday, a birthday, an anniversary, etc. We will inform them of your gift, about the Friends and the Garden. Use the mail-in form or the credit card link on our website 'support us' page.
Julie Bartsch - Life
Stacy Thompson - Sponsor
Membership information for
Joining the Friends
Renewing your membership
Can be found on our Website Support-Us page.
Information on paying by check or by credit card is found there also.
For changes to your mailing address or email address, please contact Membership Coordinator Christi Bystedt at this email address. or Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Membership, P.O. Box 3793, Minneapolis, MN55403-0793.
The Friends Board of Directors can use your talents! We are an all-volunteer board that meets several time per year and if you have an interest in the Wildflower Garden and in helping support it and our mission of educating the public about the Garden and the natural world get more details by sending an email to to our president at this address.
When Friends member Elizabeth Schutt died in 1999 she left a legacy to the Friends via an annual gift from a fund she set up in her father’s name, The Mendon Schutt Family Fund, administered by the Minneapolis Foundation. Her mother, Clarissa, was a friend of Eloise Butler. Elizabeth knew Eloise and her two successors, Martha Crone and Ken Avery. She was in the first group of shelter volunteers in 1970 and she donated as a memorial to her mother the large oak table that still graces the Martha Crone Shelter.
That long legacy of acquaintance with the Garden and its early curators undoubtedly was the background for the bequest made by Elizabeth to the Friends. Elizabeth lived in Minneapolis in the house that her father built as a wedding gift for his new bride, the same house you may have visited in 2015 for a Friends fund raising event that is now owned and restored by 21st century supporters of the Friends. More details about her at this link.
for John Haldeman from Lube-Tech, Sandra Boven, Bette Mae Buelow, Janice Mostrom, Janet Krier, Bonnie Schindler, Nancy Spannaus, Pam Weiner.
for Marquerite Harbison from Pam Weiner.
for Patrick Mack from Michael Mack.
for Delores Ellen Rak from Karen & Michael Longerbone.
for Marcella B. Carter from Darryl Carter.
Donations Received in support of our programs
March 2021 to July 2021
Michael H. Baker Family Foundation
This meeting had previously been scheduled as an in person meeting at the Kenwood Park Community Center. More details about the annual meeting will be posted on the website "about us" tab one week prior to the meeting. The link to the Zoom meeting will be there also.
©2021 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. Non-commercial reproduction of this material is allowed without prior permission but only with the acknowledgment to Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc., the author and the photographer.