Eloise Butler

The Writings of Eloise Butler

Notable Features of my Wild Garden, March 1915

Among the notable features of the garden, first of all should be noted the lie of the land and the admirable situation, consisting as it does of morainic hills commanding widespread views with intervening valleys, ponds and bogs. My twenty acres of garden within a park of about 600 acres, includes one small tamarack bog, but none of the ponds. One pond, however, full of lilies, lies not a stones throw off, and the other can be seen from my highest hilltop; while a third is distant but a few minutes’ walk. I have a pool in the garden that was formed by building a dam across a brook and it is proposed to make by excavation a sizable pool in one of my meadows for more aquatic plants. As it is, I have varied conditions of soil, moisture and light exposure that satisfy the needs of all the imported plants from other parts of the state.

Marsh and hillside

Above: The marsh and surrounding hillside in early Spring.

The beauty of the landscape is enhanced by the character of the trees and shrubs and their natural grouping. There are many white birches and white oaks, also red maples. These in the fall - the white stems of the birches, the peculiar mulberry red of the white oaks, and the many shades of color afforded by other plants, all set off by the dark green of the tamaracks - makes one understand why the term poignant should be applied to remarkable beauty.

Maple and PopularSomeone voiced this feeling on seeing the garden in autumnal dress by saying, “It makes me ache to look at this!” One of my white birches on a hillside has eight bolls, while opposite in the meadow a yellow birch rejoices with seven. Between them “Monarch,” the largest white oak in Minneapolis, lifts his aged head and rules the landscape (photos below).

The season is unusually late this year and we have no flowers as yet, save those of the white maple and the yellow accents of hazel, but the swamp is gay with a cordon of redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea), interspersed with yellow stems of willows and saffron-colored Cornus circinata [now Cornus rugosa, Round-leaved Dogwood, no longer extant in the Garden]. Since early March, innumerable pussies on the willows have been purring, “Spring” is here!” although more warmth is needed to bring out the yellow stamens and pistils.

Monarch in 1926. Due to age and accumulated storm damage, the tree was taken down in 1940.
Birches in the Garden
White birches on the hillside in the Garden in 1926. The 8-boled birch in the background. Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.

A second article by Eloise carries through this theme with a discussion of plants found in the Tamarack Bog and adjacent meadow.

More information and photos can be found under these links:
Redosier Dogwood
Geography of the Garden
History of the Bog