Friends of the Wildflower Garden

A web of present and past events

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These short articles are written to highlight connections of the plants, history and lore of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden with different time frames or outside connections. A web of intersections.

This month: The ghost of Old Andrew; greenery makes you feel better; two plants of the summer garden, one to see now and one historic; Eloise Butler's struggles for a fence and an historical photo all make up this issue.

This Month

Working near to Old Andrew


Greenery improves many things.


A Queen of Summer


Long-leaved Bluet - an historical Garden plant


The first fence - what a struggle it was


Historic photo



Working near to Old Andrew

Eloise Butler
Eloise Butler, ca. 1921

On a Saturday morning this June a group of Friends volunteers were quietly cutting buckthorn on the high ridge on the Garden’s west side. We believed we were near the spot where Eloise Butler exorcised the ghost of Old Andrew by deeply burying what may have been one of his old boots and planting violets and Trillium above it. Eloise wrote about the mysterious wood-chopper and part of the story appeared in a 1924 newspaper - read her story here.

Below: The ground slopes away on the steep western hillside just outside the Garden's fence where the Friends Invasive Plant Action Group was clearing buckthorn. Somewhere here was the domain of Old Andrew.

Old Andrew work area

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Greenery improves many things.

greenery graphic

Anyone spend more time outside during Covid? The majority who did seem to agree that being out in nature was beneficial - it not only reduced stress, but improved sleep and lower blood pressure. Studies have been on-going for years now about the beneficial effects of being around “green.”

More and more research point to the many positive outcomes of the “Nature experience.” Here are links to two summaries of recent conclusions - one from the Mayo Clinic and one from Khiron Clinics.

Mayo Clinic

Khiron Clinics

We are so fortunate to be in a state with lots of greenery and with a metro area known for its parks and green spaces. Is it any wonder many people who visit the Wildflower Garden describe the experience as “peaceful?”

Graphic by Jay Bendt

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A Queen of Summer

Queen of the Meadow

It’s root makes a treatment for fevers and its flowers were an early source of salicylic acid used in making aspirin, but to the Wildflower Garden visitor it is a visual apparition of white flower clouds, providing a calmer sensation than that of the more riotous colors of summer.

I write of Queen of the Meadow (Filipendula ulmaria) which you will find in profusion in late June and July along the boardwalk at Eloise Butler. You can’t miss it - there are so many of these tall stately plants. The flowering panicle is a dense mass of small white petals and an abundance of long stamens all of which is said to have the aroma of almond.

It has been in the Garden since 1933 and only in wild gardens will you find it as it is not native to North America.

Link to information sheet with more photos, plant details, the name confusion, and the plant's herbal background.

While you are visiting you may catch a look at the plants cousin - the pink flowered Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra) which also grows near the boardwalk but is much more elusive.

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Long-leaved Bluet - an historical Garden plant


Planted 108 years ago was a small ground covering plant called “Eyebright” or “Long-leaved Bluet” (Hedyotis longifolia).

It provided visual brightness in dry sunny places for many decades. Never more than 10 inches high, the clumps of white to pinkish four-petaled flowers bloomed from early to late summer.

It is the only species of this genus native to Minnesota and is still found in half the counties, most in the east and central part of the state. “Long-leaved” but on this small plant that means about an inch, as the flowers are only ⅓ inch wide.

Read more about it here:

Long-leaved Bluet Fact Sheet

Long leaved Bluet group

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Eloise Butler
Eloise Butler photo from the 1924 Minneapolis Journal article about the fence and Old Andrew.

The first fence - what a struggle it was

There was supposed to be a fence originally - that is - in 1907 but it is uncertain if one was actually placed around the newly designated wild garden in Glenwood Park. Even if it was there it became irrelevant as the wild garden expanded in size to over 20 acres in size.

All kinds of things were harmful to Eloise Butler’s Garden - large animals, vandals and people that just wandered in from all directions. In 1924 she was quoted saying “The fence is needed to keep out the few vandals who destroy in a few minutes the work of years and spoil the garden for the rest of the visitors.”

What led to that? As early as 1912 Eloise had written to the Board of Park Commissioners on the need for a fence. Nothing happened for years. She took to the newspapers as early as 1921 to state the need for a fence. Nothing happened. A newpaper article in 1924 concluded - “Tired of waiting years for it to be built, she finally is having it put up herself.” She took out a loan and contracted for a fence around the most desirable-of-saving parts of the Garden. She could not afford to do the entire area.

One hundred years later, we are again working on more fencing for the Garden. Many things cause delays, but we still hope to have some new area incorporated in the Garden with new fencing sometime later this year.

Read all out the fencing of the Garden in this article on the Garden's fences.

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Historic Photo

Seventy-three years ago on May 28 1951 Martha Crone made this Kodachrome showing part of the central hillside of the Upland Garden with a bank of lupine blooming. The martin house in the distance was on the first hillside of the upland.

Lupine field in the upland 1951

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Previous articles

May 2024 - Construction proceeds for storage buildings.

May 2024 - The two Jacob's Ladders

May 2024 - June is for wild roses

May 2024 - The well dressed man in the Garden

April 2024 - New construction at the Garden

April 2024 - An Eloise Butler Orchid

April 2024 - Water in the Wetland

March 2024 - Nostalgia: Snow in April

March 2024 - The life of a Redwing

March 2024 - Eloise plants - what?

March 2024 - The Norway Maple

All selections published in 2024

All selections published in 2023

All selections published in 2022

Selections published in 2021

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