Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary
Minneapolis GBF - Day 1 - Garden #1
After a great sleep in a very comfortable king sized bed, I had pretty much recovered from the travel fiascos of the previous day and was raring to go, bright and early.
The first stop on Day 1 of the Minneapolis Fling was the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, the oldest public wildflower garden in the United States.
Eloise Butler was a teacher in the late 19th, early 20th century who was passionate about nature. A quote on one of the plaques at the garden perfectly illustrates her love of nature: “…a bit of natural growth is a source of greater delight to the true nature lover than the most beautiful and most highly cultivated garden” –Eloise Butler.
She, together with several other teachers, were the force behind the creation of the “The Wildflower Garden” in 1907, a 3 acre natural botanic garden. During her time as curator, the garden was expanded to 23 acres and tens of thousands of native plants were added. Eloise died in the Garden in 1933, at the age of 81. I have a feeling there is no place she would have rather been in those final moments.
True to her mission, the garden that now bears her name showcases plants in their natural setting.
The garden is open from mid-April through to mid-October & there is no admission fee.
For the protection of both plant and creature, the dos and don’ts when enjoying the garden are clearly outlined on a map located at the entrance, including a special reminder for us photographers since we do sometimes get a bit too enthusiastic when taking photographs :)
Instead of walking through wide open, grassy expanses surrounded by ornamental borders, this garden is enjoyed while strolling nature trails with immaculately groomed mulch paths:
One interesting tidbit that our tour guide gave us was that Eloise would often collect plants during her train travels. When the train would stop unexpectedly due to breakdowns, etc. (which was apparently not all that uncommon), she would hop off, search for interesting plants, and bring them back to the wildflower garden.
The garden contained a diverse range of ferns:
One of the plants that really caught my (and everyone else's) eye was the buttonbush:
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
A bit of further research, however, revealed that it has now been reclassified into it's own special group: Asparagaceae...not very original, is it?
I found this to be the most fascinating bit of our walk – take a look at this gorgeous expanse of wildflowers:
Some Queen of the Meadow, a pre-cursor to aspirin, was spotted:
|Queen of the Meadow (Filipendula ulmaria)|
We noticed many feeders as we walked the paths – this is, after all, a bird sanctuary too:
The squirrel baffle tells me I'm not the only one with squirrel issues!
Wild turkey having an impromptu meal near the feeders
Blue Wild Indigo
The juices of the plant turn purple when exposed to air and can be used to create a dye (as was done by the early settlers), although it is apparently not as good as “True Indigo” (Indigofera tinctoria).
Many other plants were spotted that are prevalent in Minnesota's gardens, both public and private. Of course, I didn’t realize this until after the fact, once I noticed them popping up in many of the gardens we toured:
|Black Eyed Susan|
|Turkscap Lily (Lilium superbum)|
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium)
One aspect of a garden that I’m always drawn to is the seating area – a place to sit, rest and peacefully enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.
Notice the strategically placed birdbath