The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
So I think the time has come to start posting about the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling, which happened back in July. Let’s start with our visit to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden.
About a century ago, Eloise Butler taught botany in the Minneapolis public schools. A woman ahead of her time, she was a conservationist and lover of native wildflowers. Thanks to her efforts, this garden (a part of the Minneapolis park system) was founded in 1907. It’s the oldest public garden of its kind in the country.
Covering 15 acres, the garden includes a bog and shady wetland, an upland deciduous woodland, and an open area of grasses, flowers, and occasional trees. The garden also includes a bird sanctuary, and is a popular spot for birding.
When we flingers arrived we were greeted by the staff and divided into three groups, based on how fast we wanted to walk (and hence how much ground we were going to cover). I thought this was a clever approach.
Judy and I were happy to go with the dawdlers. We would much rather take our time examining details and taking photographs of a smaller area than cover more ground at a faster pace. Plus, I’m just naturally pokey.
It’s important to note that this is a naturalistic garden, but not really a natural area. It is intensively managed by permanent and seasonal staff, along with volunteers. They work to control invasives, build up the population of chosen plants, and maintain and improve each of the garden ecosystems as well as the hardscape.
The prairie-like area had a much higher ratio of flowers to grasses than you would find in a natural prairie. Most, but not all, of the flowers were native to the region. The Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) were in bloom during our visit.
Here’s some Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum racemosum) with berries that aren’t quite ripe.
I was happy to see some Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) standing tall in a sunny spot.
The Eloise Butler Garden reminded me just a bit of the Lurie Garden in Chicago. Both are naturalistic urban gardens, though the Eloise Butler Garden is larger and has more landscape types. Also, it feels much more secluded than the Lurie, where you are constantly reminded by the surrounding skyline that you are in a large city.
All in all, the Eloise Butler Garden is a place well worth visiting for lovers of birds, trees, and wildflowers. I’d like to go back and visit in the spring when the shady areas are full of woodland flowers.