President's Letters

As published in The Fringed Gentian™.

Fall 2021

Volume 69, No. 3

Dear Friends,

witch hazel blossoms

Another end of a Garden season that began with masks, one-way trails, staggered entry times and social distancing requirements and evolved to no restrictions. I hope you have enjoyed the seasonal transformations of each Garden Trail.

In the late summer, the Upland Garden is my favorite with the contrasting goldenrods and the purple asters. I was excited to read Robin Wall Kimmerer’s chapter of “Asters and Goldenrod” in her book, raiding Sweetgrass. At her freshman intake interview, she admitted wanting to study botany to learn why asters and goldenrod looked so beautiful together. Kimmerer was told that was not science. Her childhood in the woods was of relationships, where plants were teachers and companions while at the University, plants were objects. As a new PhD, she listened to a Navajo woman who could name the plants of her valley, where it lived, when it bloomed, who it lived near, who ate it, what nest used its fibers and the kind of medicine it offered. Kimmerer’s new insight was combining the Indigenous ways of knowing and her academic book learning. The Indigenous people’s knowledge is gained through four aspects of our being: mind, body, emotion, and spirit while science uses mind and possibly body. To the eyes of bees and humans, goldenrods and asters appear similar. However as complementary gold and purple flowers, they receive more pollinator visits than if they were growing alone. Kimmerer is able to merge science and beauty.

Our 2021 Annual Membership Meeting again was held by Zoom, with more members attending than in previous years. Author and biologist, John Moriarty engaged us with Minnesota’s uniqueness, the center of North America with 3 ecosystems: prairie tallgrass to the south and west, the deciduous forests extending to the east and the spruce-fir forests to the east and north. The fragmentation of these habitats with expansion of farming, industry and population growth plus climate change will be our challenge. His three most recent books are available on our website. I hope more of you can join us next year for another speaker forum. Let me know of a speaker you would want to hear: E-Mail

The Friends’ Board voted to raise membership fees, the first in more than a decade. Starting in 2022, basic membership will be $30. Your membership dues are used to support the Garden with plantings and special projects. Higher levels of membership are available for those who can give more and there is the opportunity to support the Garden through gifts honoring friends and family.

The members voted at the Annual Membership Meeting for the 2000-2021 Friends’ Board of Directors to continue for 2021-2022. (List of Directors here) I hope you were able to catch the last of the blooms – Witch Hazel.

May the Garden Be with You


Summer 2021

Volume 69, No. 2

Dear Friends,

As I am planting my vegetable garden, containers, and adding new garden flowers, the staff at the Garden has been busy planting this spring. Why are they planting, when it’s a wildflower garden? Don’t plants just grow, and propagate? No…trees die, is sunnier and supports different vegetation, and critters do some damage. Yes…the fence to keep out the deer and trails to keep us humans off the plants do help. According to Gary Bebeau’s historical notes on the Friends’ website, one hundred years ago, Eloise Butler planted Narrow-leaved Leek, Sweet Black-eyed Susan, and Queen Anne’s lace. Seventy-five years ago, Martha Crone planted 175 Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily plants, unique to Minnesota counties: Rice, Goodhue, and Steele. The trout lily is a spring highlight of many Garden visitors.

Each year along with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Friends provide funds to pay for plantings in the Garden. Your membership fees and donations support this endeavor. Martha Crone, wrote in the first Fringed Gentian™, January 1953, “It requires sufficient funds, help and material to do justice to such a unique garden which is conducted for the preservation of herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees.”

The board will be reviewing the membership fees this year. In 1953 membership was $3 and over the last decade $15. I encourage you to invite a friend or two to become members. In our world of recycling, reusing, and reducing, support the Garden with a birthday, graduation, anniversary or any occasion gift in honor of your special person(s).

This year for our Annual Member Meeting in September, we will have a guest speaker, John Moriarty, author of A Field Guide to our Natural World in the Twin Cities and one of the co-authors of the updated Minnesota’s Natural Heritage. My hope is an annual speaker will become a Friends’ tradition. I look forward to your joining us for this event in September. More details will be mailed to you in August.

Please feel free to contact me with your ideas and suggestions at fern@friendsofeloisebutler.org.

May the Garden Be with You

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New plants getting ready for the new home in the Garden. Photo by Jennifer Olson

Plant wagon at the garden

Spring 2021

Volume 69, No. 1

Dear Friends,
Spring is coming! Vaccines are arriving! I am hopeful.

The Garden will open in April when the snow and ice have disappeared. Initially masks, social distancing, and one-way trails with limited hours will continue as we did in 2020.

Researchers from the University of Vermont collected data from 3200 online surveys by Vermonters during 16 days in May 2020 at a time when their governor had placed restrictions on businesses and social gatherings to limit the impact of COVID-19. Respondents reported increased participation in outdoor activities: walking up 70%, wildlife watching up 64%, relaxing outside alone up 58% and taking photos and creating art up 54%. Nearly 60% of participants experienced improved mental health and well-being being outdoors.

A January 2021 Audubon magazine article described data. The German Center for Integrative Biodiversity connected greater bird biodiversity to increased life satisfaction in 26,000 Europeans and seeing 10% more bird species generates satisfaction on par with a comparable increase in income. Researchers from Cal Poly reported hikers who listened to birdsong had a better overall experience and felt greater joy.

I believe those who walk the trails of the Garden and witness the change of the seasons feel these rewards.

The natural world is our friend, be a friend to the natural world.

May the Garden Be with You

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