2018 begins the 112th year of the Garden, the 66th year for the Friends and Susan Wilkins’ 15th year as Garden Curator.
The first Friends Board meeting of the year took place February 5, 2018 at the home of Pam Weiner. Garden Curator Susan Wilkins was in attendance and reported on major governance changes at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and on Winter activities. First, Annie Young, with 28 years as commissioner had passed away; then with the departure of Superintendent Jayne Miller to Pittsburgh, former Superintendent Mary Merrill was coming back as interim until the board selected a permanent candidate; and finally, many of the Board Commissioners are new in the posts following the last election when many of the previous commissioners did not stand for re-election and these commissioners are probably not familiar with the Friends or the Garden. As to the budget, Susan believed that she would have more naturalist resources available in 2018 than in 2017.
Susan also submitted three Garden proposals for the Friends to fund in 2019. A decision on these was delayed until the April meeting. Tyler Pederson, the MPRB planning person was working on phase II boardwalk cost estimates and contracts. It was decided that the best approach to achieve least cost would be for the Friends to directly fund the construction and installation costs and then gift them to the MPRB. Kathy Connelly and Steve Pundt were to work with MPRB attorneys on the drafting of an agreement. It was now estimated that the cost to the Friends would be around $75,000. Contrary to these early expectations of having everything done by summer, it would be late fall before all the agreements and the pricing was finalized and winter before installation work could begin. The Park Board already had, at their expense, the heat treated ash lumber ready to install. Meanwhile, Susan and Tyler were refining the final design with James Robin of the Cuningham Group.
It is late January and I’ve been out in the shining Garden this week working on a variety of projects. My first task was to stake out the next sections of the boardwalk in the Garden’s wetland with landscape architect James Robin and Minneapolis Park Board design project manager Tyler Pederson. Although more than one of us (I won’t say who!) temporarily lost our footing in the icy reaches of the open water below the snow, we successfully charted our way through the wetland with drawings, templates, tape measures and marking flags.(1)
To accommodate the placement of the boardwalk, a few large Green Ash trees would need to be removed along the wetland trail. Susan provided a second reason why ash trees are being removed - Emerald Ash Borer:
We have been methodically removing specific ash trees in the Garden while they are still alive. One infested, they are difficult to safely cut down without causing harm to nearby trees and shrubs. We don’t want to delay removal, as their branches will become brittle and break off, posing a hazard for visitors and staff.(1)
As part of the new Friends budget process instituted by President Kathy Connelly last year, a proposed 2018 budget was presented, modified and approved. She also provided an update of the MPRB proposal to allow people to forage in the parks. Certain areas that are vulnerable such as the Garden itself and the Volunteer Stewardship Area outside the Garden could be delineated as protected areas.
Volunteer coordinator Jennifer Dunne was modifying the training program to include a minimum number of days that volunteers had to work so as to keep their training fresh in their minds and to give satisfaction that the time is worthwhile. Jennifer planned to step down from the coordinator position by the end of the year.
Fundraising for the boardwalk phase II was continuing under Pam Weiner's direction. Mark Addicks and Tom Hoch had committed $35,000 in matching funds. No other major donors were known as this time.
The treasurer’s report for calendar year 2017 was submitted in-absentia and approved. Jayne Funk’s membership report totaled membership at 285. Jayne and Lauren Husting manned a table at the annual Wild Ones Conference on February 17. Four memberships were obtained and 12 plant books sold. Betsy McNerney was at work on the spring newsletter. The board decided that the current newsletter issue should be available immediately on the Friends website for anyone who wants to see it. Gary Bebeau implemented the procedure and also created a browser friendly html version of the current issue and added the html version to the newsletter archive.
April 1st is the target date for opening the Garden season. It is often missed when winter refuses to leave. This year’s refusal was historical. By the time the ice on the trails melted it was May 1 - the latest opening date known. Late March snows plus 11+ inches on April 2 and 3 with more heavy snow on 13th, 14th and 15th gave us 25.2 inches for the month, an all time record for April, breaking the 1983 record of 23.8 inches, and it was only the 15th of the Month.
Two views of Birch Pond just west of the Garden parking lot, in April after a large snow fall. Above: April 5, 2018, following the 11 inch snowfall of April 2/3, photo by G D Bebeau. Below: Birch Pond on April 14, 1949 following a 9-1/2 inch snowfall. Photo by Martha Crone. In both years the opening of the Garden was affected by heavy snows.
Before the Garden opened, the Friends held a Board meeting on April 16th at the Kenwood Park Community Center. Both Curator Susan Wilkins and boardwalk project manager Tyler Pederson were present to review the status of the boardwalk. The educational meeting spot to be located near the Showy Lady’s-slippers has been expanded to accommodate 12 seated, 12 standing and still room for others to pass through. (see details here) The donation agreement with the MPRB was still being developed but the Friends would have an agreed cap of $75,000. The Garden staff was working on planning for programs once the Garden opened.
The board approved two of the three Garden projects for 2019 that were presented in February by Susan Wilkins. Approved were native shrub planting between Geranium Path and Lady Slipper Lane with an estimated cost of $3,500 to $4,000; and prairie plantings in the newly restored and managed areas of the Upland Garden with an estimated cost $3,000 to $3,500.
For the past three years the Friends have provided funds for the removal of invasive species and restoration of the areas in both the wetland and the upland prairie, principally Reed Canary Grass and Buckthorn in the wetland and sumac, various berries (Rubus species) and Buckthorn in the prairie area. The removal was done partially by Garden staff in the wetland and by Prairie Restorations Inc. in the prairie. The funding approved above would fill in areas left bare and control the re-emergence of the unwanted species.
Gary Bebeau filed a short-year form 990 report with the Internal Revenue Service to change the Friends fiscal year from ending April 30 to ending on December 31, effective for 2017. This had been voted on by the Board several times in the past but nothing had ever been filed to make it official.
Volunteer coordinator Jennifer Dunne held a training session on May 8 for 6 new volunteers and 34 who were returning from 2017. The late Garden opening had forced the meeting to be rescheduled twice
Spring catches up quickly when winter hangs around too long. The week of May 5 to 13 had 84 degree temperatures and all the Trilliums in bloom, plus Marsh Marigold and Skunk Cabbage in the wetland. In addition the spring warblers were passing through. By the third week of May the summer bird residents were nesting and the leaf canopy was fully extended. (1)
By the time the Garden opened, the Park Board carpenters had reconstructed the wood arbor over the front gate that had been destroyed by a falling dead tree last Summer. If you compare the look of the gate in the winter photo shown above to the look after the arbor is back in place you can see the wisdom of former Gardener Cary George. It was Cary who had suggested the wooden arbor. Back on October 21st, 1989 he had stated at a Friends Board meeting “I hope enough money can be found to add a wooden archway so that visitors may symbolically enter into the Garden.” It was also he who came up with the quotation from Wordsworth that is inscribed over the gate.
In the spring issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 66, no. 1) the lead article was on Forest Bathing, A Mindful Walk in the Woods, by MPRB Interpretive Naturalist Kyla Sisson. The topic is a fairly new one for most readers. Kathy Connelly reviewed what the Friends have been doing; Susan Wilkins wrote about the winter work in the wetland preparing for the boardwalk installation and about the change in the tree inventory of the Garden following the loss of all the elms in the last century. A review of the book How Trees Think by Peter Wohlleben was included along with several naturalist articles on spring ephemerals and the Maple Glen where the Friends Invasive Plant Action Group (FIPAC) was doing work.
On May 13, Mother’s Day, Friends members and volunteers were at the Garden to man a membership table and assist in helping visitors. The group included Jennifer Dunne, Rod Miller, Kay Orr, Joan Thompson, Mary Steinbicker, Betsy McNerney, Leslie Gillette, Diane Newberry, Nancy Nikora, Melissas Hansen, Linda Fritschel, Anne Morrow, Roger Battreall, Jayne Funk and Gary Bebeau. Six memberships were sold and eight plant books sold.
The Friends annual membership meeting, was held at the Kenwood Park Community Center, 21st and Franklin Ave., Minneapolis on Sunday May 20. Attendance was sparse and a quorum just reached. Refreshments were provided by board members.
The nominating committee for the Board of Directors slate consisted of Kathy Connelly, Sally Pundt and Colin Bartol. Summary reports of Friends activities were available for those attending. Elected to the board for one year terms were Candy Bartol, Colin Bartol, Gary Bebeau, Steve Benson, Kathy Connelly, Jennifer Dunne, Jayne Funk, Melissa Hansen, Lauren Husting, Betsy McNerney, Jennifer Olson, Jim Proctor, Sally Pundt, Steve Pundt, Barry Schade, Pam Weiner and Susan Wilkins (ex-officio).
At the Board of Directors meeting following the annual meeting, the officers elected were: Kathleen Connelly, President; Melissa Hansen, Vice-president; Candy Bartol, Secretary; Gary Bebeau, Treasurer.
Continuing in committee roles were: Gary Bebeau, memorials and website; Jennifer Dunne, volunteers; Steve Benson, money management; Jennifer Olson, historian; Jayne Funk, membership; Jim Proctor, Invasive Plant Action Group (with non-board members Liz Anderson and Kari Christianson, co-chairs).
With the delayed start to the season, FIPAG held only 3 Garlic Mustard Pulls this spring - on May 5, May 20 and June 3, all in areas previously worked in.
Last summer a dead tree had fallen and destroyed the wood arbor over the front gate to the Garden. This spring another tree fell on the Amy Odell birdbath near the shelter and broke the limestone bowl. The MPRB cement shop foreman was able to fashion a new one out of the same limestone - it looked just like the old one - missing only the age patina. Amy Odell was the wife of Friends founder Clinton Odell. All memorials in the Garden can be viewed on this page.
Summer had no large surprises at the Garden. There was abundant rain and very few days with temperatures above 90 degrees. One historical event was the removal of the well head and the capping of the well at the Great Medicine Spring, just west of the Garden. Tests had shown arsenic contamination above the Maximum Contaminant Level for drinking water, so on June 25 a crew removed the pump, pump platform and capped the well. The pump handle had been removed in 2014 to prevent people drinking the water. The pump and well were the result of the attempt of the Friends to rejuvenate the flow of the Great Medicine Spring in 1999/2000. The flow of the natural spring had dried up in earlier years with only a trickle now and then. After the tornado of 2011 that went through the area, that part of the park was left to grow wild. Full details on the history of the spring are in this article.
Below: The area of the Great Medicine Spring after removal of the pump and platform. Photo G D Bebeau.
Removal of invasive species during the summer was an ongoing project by the staff in the wetland and by the staff and Prairie Restorations in the upland.
At a planning meeting held in June at Utepils (a brewhouse) Board members decided to implement an email news program for members that had given us permission to use their email addresses for communication. It was decided to use the MailChimp program as it is free use for less than 2000 addresses. Gary Bebeau set up the program and Lauren Husting composed the first emails. (PDF Sample)
In the summer issue of the Friends Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol.66, no. 2) A group of Garden naturalists wrote a number of short essays on “Shiny Stuff and other Garden Wonders.” Naturalist Tammy Mercer contributed another birding article titled “Baby Songbirds have Hardworking Parents.” In addition she listed 25 birds commonly seen in the Garden during breeding season. The website has a long list of birding articles written by Tammy over a number of past years. [Find them here] Another article about the impact of earthworms was written by FIPAG co-coordinator Liz Anderson and echos recent discussions Susan Wilkins has had with the Friends about their effect in the Garden.
During the summer 8 schools sent children to the Garden with bus transportation subsidized by the Friends Student Transportation Grant Program - 560 youngsters, all 4th graders. Transportation cost to the Friends - $2,040.
Board member Gary Bebeau put together in book form a history of former Curator Martha Crone’s 53 years of service to and support of the Garden. The title was “This satisfying pursuit - Martha Crone and the Wild Flower Garden.” It was posted on the website in downloadable pdf format, 176 pages. It included her background as a helper to Eloise Butler, her years as Curator and her 20 years of involvement with the Friends.
He also compiled a research document on the history of open water pools in the Garden. Susan Wilkins prompted the additional research with a question on the position and naming of the Mallard Pool at the north end of the Garden. There were a number of documents that provided insight to the current and past water pools, including Eloise Butler’s Mallard Pool, which was located outside of the current Garden boundaries, but no single document that tied all the information together. This document is available here.
FIPAG held three Buckthorn pulls in the Maple Glen next to the Garden, in October, on the 7th, 13th and 21st. This has been the area of concentration since 2014. Canada Rye seed was scattered on the disturbed soil to help stabilize the ground. A ground cover such as this was recommended by Dr. Lee Frelich, Director of the Center for Forest Ecology at the University of Minnesota. Also on his recommendation list was milkweed and Pennsylvania Sedge.
The last 2018 Board meeting of the Friends was on September 29, held at the Kenwood Community Center. Final plans were made for the Volunteer Appreciation Event to be held in October. Besides the usually committee and officer reports, the fundraising efforts of Pam Weiner for the phase II boardwalk were acknowledged. That fundraising was now complete as the Friends had sufficient funds to complete the project. Also, President Kathy Connelly had initiated a process of a formal budget review in 2017 and at this meeting the budget for 2019 was approved.
The process of moving the boardwalk to completion was just about finished. During October the design was finalized. It was found that additional posts were needed for stabilization, resulting in a change order, but the fabricator, Wickcraft in Wisconsin, was already beginning fabrication of the sections. They already had the ash wood from the Park Board for the treads at their site. The sections would end up being delivered November 29. Total cost to the Friends was $50,765 for the sections. Kathy Connelly had visited with Wickcraft at the Garden in early November to confirm some details. The old section of the boardwalk from the 2015 phase I had some areas where it was sinking. Stabilization plates were needed to shore that up and the Park Board was going to pay for that out of their maintenance budget. The next cost will be the installation. Trail Source was selected by the Park Board as the installation contractor and their bid was expected be about $15,000. They will do the installation work during the winter.
Two major pronouncements came from the Park Board in the Fall. First was the passing of a resolution to ban the use of glyphosate on all Park property (pdf copy). There was a partial ban in effect in previous years. It was to be worked out in 2019 how the implementation would work and how it would affect the Garden. The second pronouncement concerned the budget. An initial budget reduction proposal was to reduce the staffing hours at the Garden by 400. This would be done by opening later than April 1, closing earlier in the fall or closing on Mondays. Kathy Connelly used the new “E-news” program to communicate the information to our members, asking them to respond directly to the Park Commissioners. Kathy sent a letter from the Friends Board laying out our opposition. (pdf copy). On November 14, the Park Commissioners modified the draft budget to restore funding for the Garden. It was not yet final, but a good omen.
The annual volunteer appreciation event was held on October 28th at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in South Minneapolis, our seventh year at that facility. The Friends provided beverages, food, door prizes, free gardening books and the Park Board providing desserts. Over sixty volunteers, Garden staff, and Friends Board members were attending. Catering of food was by Borders Cucina.
For several years running Pam Weiner has brought in a supply of donated books related to plants and gardening. The books were originally donated to an organization that ships books to other countries where specific books on North American plants and gardening would be of no use. Attendees at the event could take home what they wished. Photos were published in the fall issue of The Fringed Gentian™. More photos here.
That fall issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 66, no. 3) was Betsy McNerney’s last as editor. She still had Andrea Vollmer as volunteer designer and Denise Sterling as copyeditor.
Susan Wilkins summarized the Garden’s past season. Over 14,000 visitors were logged stopping in to the Martha Crone Shelter. She noted: “This is the highest count on record in recent history. It means that thousands of people each month had an opportunity to connect with staff and volunteers in the Shelter to learn more about the flora and fauna and the rich history of American’s oldest public wild flower garden. It is exciting to know that the Garden is appreciated by so many - far more than we can count! As only a portion of visitors stop at the Shelter during their visit to the Garden, staff are looking into ways to capture a precise number of total visitors.”(3)
Susan also noted that two new toddler/pre-school Garden programs were very successful: Nature Tots (weekly) and Garden Story Time (twice weekly) with over 560 registered participants. Over 3,000 people participated in free and paid programs. There were also over 80 special group programs with 1,370 youth and adults taking part. A complete detailed listing of the Garden Programs for 2018 is here (PDF copy).
Also in the newsletter, Kathy Connelly noted changes in Board member responsibilities, including Betsy McNerney stepping down as newsletter editor. Lauren Husting was now setting up the “Friends News” emails and Melissa Hansen was taking over volunteer responsibilities for the second time.
The lead article in the newsletter was about “The Brilliance of the Forest” by MPRB Naturalist Ron Spinosa - an article on colorful mushrooms and molds found in the Garden. Betsy McNerney reviewed what Mary Furth does in her patch of the Garden that she is responsible for as a volunteer Legacy Steward. Gary Bebeau’s book on Martha Crone was reviewed.
The Garden closed on weekdays on October 15 but remained open on weekends through the end of October. By mid-month most of the passing warblers had left. The white and yellow fall flowers were still blooming and the mushrooms and fungus were putting on a very nice colorful display. (4)
As a follow-on to Gary Bebeau’s book on Martha Crone, he produced two additional volumes detailing the events of the years of Eloise Butler’s tenure and those of Martha Crone. His previous book on Martha Crone was more her history and not a year-by-year summary of her years as Curator. Likewise, Martha Hellander’s book on Eloise Butler - The Wild Gardener - did not cover the specific events of each year in chronological order. The Crone book is titled “The Native Plant Reserve in Glenwood Park, 1933-1958,” 228 pages, and the Butler book is titled “The Wild Botanic Garden, 1907 - 1933,” 294 pages. Both were listed on the website in downloadable pdf format.
The 2nd Edition of the Plant Identification Guide was printed at the beginning of the year. It was expanded to 142 pages from 75, contained larger photos, more photos (1,015) and more plants (437) were covered.
Friends director Barry Shade resigned from the Board at the end of year.
Summarizing the year for the Friends:
Mission Project expenditures: $3,479 to the Park Board for the habitat restoration efforts; $50,765 to Wickcraft for boardwalk construction; $2,040 was spent on Student Transportation Grants; $19 for Junior Naturalist backpak supplies; and $1,550 for volunteer support. Membership at year end totaled 277, of which 41 were life members and 37 courtesy memberships.
A major donation this year was $35,000 from Mark Addicks and Tom Hoch in support of the boardwalk project. Two new name plates were placed on the Eliason Honor Board in the shelter for memorials: Alice Lindquist Lundblad and Penny Jacobs.
Weather: Unlike 2016 and 2017, the snow did not melt early, resulting in the latest Garden opening known. Spring and summer rains were very good, without extremely hot weather. Temperatures in December were above normal, with very little snow through the end of the year.
Photo top of page: A panorama of the Maple Glen with its hillside of Interrupted Ferns, on August 9, 2018. Photo G D Bebeau
Meeting Minutes and correspondence of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden.
Archive of the Friends Newsletter The Fringed Gentian™
Vol. 66, no. 1, Spring 2018, Betsy McNerney, Editor
Vol. 66, no. 2, Summer 2018, Betsy McNerney, Editor
Vol. 66, no. 3, Fall 2018, Betsy McNerney, Editor
Historical Climatology of Minneapolis-St. Paul Area by Charles Fisk.