Friends of the Wild Flower Garden

Early Spring at Eloise Butler - 2021

One day after opening, the Garden presents a host of early Spring flowers. Even a patch of Snow Trillium is still in bloom. Here's a peek at what you will see on a visit. Check the current covid restictions on Garden website so you know what to expect. Quotes are from our previous curators Eloise Butler [EB] and Martha Crone [MC].

"In April and May, those who seek the shy spring flowers must search them out patiently in the woods, yet here in the wild flower garden one must be alert to keep pace with the rapid succession of the wildflowers." [MC]

"Who does not know the Bloodroots (Sanguinaria canadensis)- babes in the wood - each closely wrapped in the swaddling blanket of a quaintly fashioned grayish-green leaf? As the leaf unrolls the flower bud is disclosed, ensheathed in two thin, pale yellowish green sepals, which fall as the snow white corolla expands." [EB]


Dutchman’s breeches: "Everyone is familiar with the pretty pale pink or yellowish flowers arranged along a slender stalk. The divergent nectaries of the flower have given rise to the ludicrous common name." [EB]


Snow Trillium: "There are few lovelier sights than finding in sheltered nooks where the sun has rested, patches of hepaticas, snow trillium and bloodroot, the real harbingers of spring." [MC]


Twinleaf: Just ready to open it's flowers. It is one of the rare plants of the Garden. On the Minnesota Special Concern plant list.


Only in early Spring can you see the hillside, that fills with Interrupted Fern later in the season, now bare except for the Purple Trillium. They will exchange the bare spot with the ferns in early Summer.

fern hillside bare

"Now is the time that we are enticed to buy from children on the streets big bunches of the cheerful Marsh Marigold. For she always sits with her feet - roots - in the water, and only barefooted boys are likely to reach her, although “Enough for everybody and to spare” is her motto." [EB]

Marsh marigold

"With marsh marigold came lovely Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells) delighting the eye with its pink buds and lead-blue bells." [EB] These are just waiting a few days to open.

virginia bluebells

White Troutlily: "With the advance of May, Mother Nature’s spinning wheels whir faster and faster, and the earth-carpet - the most lovely product of her looms - is woven with intricate designs of flowers in bewildering profusion. But from them all we single out the dogtooth violet or adder’s tongue (now called Troutlily) for special admiration." [EB] One sees in the Garden only in early Spring the extensive hillsides of Troutlily, then they are obscured by all else that grows.

White trout lily group

Yellow Troutlily: Much rarer in Minnesota, found only in counties along the river on the eastern edge of the state.

yellow troutlily group

"It seems somewhat incongruous to associate a name so musical and a flower so beautiful with anything so prosaic as the liver. Yet Hepatica is “liver” in Greek, and some herbalist, long ago, made the comparison, when he saw the three-lobed leaf. The leaves endure through the winter and their rich tints of bronze and purple garnish the tuft of lovely flowers varying through all shades of blue and lilac to white. The lighter tones are found in the older and more exposed flowers." [EB]

sharp lobed hepatica

The wetland is still brown and bare but things are coming. The marigold are already starting bloom, the tamaracks will soon leaf out.

boardwalk in wetland

"You will have a greater respect for Dame Nature’s ability as a packer if you take apart the leaf bud made up of many leaves tightly rolled one within another and smaller and smaller in the center. The bud expands into a clump of large leaves, from which the name cabbage is derived." [EB] The purplish spathe and the spadix are still visible on some plants.

skunk cabbage

"The restful sleep of winter is over, the emptied snow clouds rolled sway. There comes then a faint thrill of quickening life. The early flowers soothe the tired eye wearied by winters sombre tones. Soft spring colors in the woodlands, a flush of green on the boughs, the freshness of a bright spring day, then all nature wakes to sing." [MC]