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Friends of the Wild Flower Garden

Garden Curator Notes - Fall 2008

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary

by Garden Curator Susan Wilkins

As autumn deepens, another Wildflower Garden season is about to come to an end.

This September, field staff members planted 276 trees and shrubs selected and ordered by Garden staff members and paid for through a donation from the Friends of the Wildflower Garden. These specimens were planted in a wooded area just north of the back gate near Mallard Pond and on the hillside beyond.

This planting is part of a greater, long-term effort to rid the Wildflower Garden of invasive plants and to elevate it to a state of greater health, vitality and bio diversity.

Below: A view of a small part of the newly planted area showing several new shrubs and the absence of heavy understory. Photo G D Bebeau.

New Planting Area

Intensive invasive species removal efforts in this area began in 2004 when the hillside behind Mallard Pond and the wooded areas adjacent to the Garden’s back fence were infested with buckthorn, which sometimes formed an impenetrable thicket. Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board staff members, including Garden staff members, Park Board gardeners, and Environmental Management crew members, spent several years removing thicket after thicket of buckthorn from the Wildflower Garden, including the back fence and Mallard Pond areas. In certain parts of the Wildflower Garden, including the area that was replanted this fall, numerous individuals from Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board volunteer programs and people from several different organizations jumped in to lend a hand, speeding up the removal efforts while making a deeper connection to the Garden. The end result has been the return to a more healthy woodland, free of the buckthorn that once plagued it.

Below: A view of the hillside area north of the Mallard Pool where part of the new planting took place. Photo G D Bebeau.

Partial view of the planting area

The story doesn’t end there, though. For any successful restoration, either the local seed source needs to be strong enough to serve as the foundation for native plant regeneration or new native plant material needs to be added. We hope that the addition of more native shrubs and trees will increase species diversity and re-create the natural structure and appearance of a healthy woodland understory in the vicinity of Mallard Pond.

Although the mature buckthorn shrubs have been removed from this area and new native woody plants were planted in September, plenty of buckthorn seeds remain in the seed bank. In addition, birds deliver buckthorn seeds daily to the Wildflower Garden from two common buckthorn species still found in great numbers in nearby parks and neighborhoods. These seeds likely will germinate and buckthorn will continue to make itself known in the Wildflower Garden in the form of tiny seedlings for many years.

Below: Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board intern Daniel Yoder planting a Witch hazel near the back gate. (photo by Judy Remington)

Tree Planting 2008

As you can gather, most invasive species don’t go away altogether in the greater landscape, but they can be actively managed, effectively removed and kept out of certain areas. In the Wildflower Garden, managing invasive species is an ongoing maintenance task and we are well on our way to reaching our goal of removing and keeping invasive plants out. The continued dedication, thoroughness and ingenuity that has led Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board staff members this far, along with great support from so many organizations, including the Friends of the Wildflower Garden, will keep us on track as we steadily progress with our efforts to improve the health and enhance the biological integrity of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden & Bird Sanctuary. This fall planting is an important part of our efforts. Thanks to the Friends for this generous donation.

Full Plant List

The 276 shrubs and trees planted this September in the Wildflower Garden are:

Total cost to the Friends of all plants was $6,705.

American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia)
American Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)
American Elder (Sambucus canadensis)
American Hazelnut (Corylus americana)
Common Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Glossy Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
Red-Berried Elder (Sambucus pubens)
Saskatoon Serviceberry (Amelanchier ainifolia)

Allegheny Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis)
American Basswood (Tilia americana)
Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis)
Common Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana)
Speckled Alder (Alnus rugosa)
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)
Wafer Ash (Ptelea trifoliata)
Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Yellow Birch (Betula allegheniensis)
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

(last two not paid by The Friends)