The Friends of the Wildflower Garden
Then and Now at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
In 1944, with a proposal and financial assistance from Clinton Odell, the Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners (name at the time) added the large upland section to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. Garden Curator Martha Crone began work immediately in the new addition. Besides doing whatever clearing work was required on the new land to remove sumac, thistle and a few other undesirables, she set out 210 new plants in the area in 1944. These plants were of 30 different kinds that she had collected on four field trips that summer. In 1945 she set out another 4,000, again from field trip collections and from the assistance of others. In some instances she reports that native soil was also brought in for certain plants. She also completed 2,000 feet of new trails that year. For the next several years she set out new marker labels (250 alone in 1946) that were obtained courtesy of Clinton Odell. Paths were covered with pea gravel.
In the photo below, taken in May 1948 of the west side of the central hill in the new addition, we see some of Martha's work. Martha Crone made use of existing paths through that section of Wirth Park and some of the paths shown were removed in later years. We see blooming plants, bags that are either new work to be done or act as protection for plants already set. We also see a number of the marker labels and some evidence of Martha's preferred mass groupings.
Below, in a photo from June 2008, we see the same hillside from a slightly different angle, but a month later in the season, with much more vegetation growth. At bottom right center is the intersection of the paths at Guidepost 41 where paths from four directions come together. The two short diagonal paths shown above running toward the right from bottom center and intersecting the main path seem to have been removed over the years. The triangular section between the old paths is gone, all replaced by the 4-way intersection.
Below we have the same view as above, but a month earlier in 2008, the same time of season as the 1948 photo. Note the difference in ground cover - the plant community of the hillside today leaves a large amount of dry residue in the spring that was not present when the hillside plantings were being established.
Below: Here we see the same area as the first photo, but two years later, on June 5, 1950.