Upgrades coming to Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary
The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary will have its facilities updated in 2020–2021. The garden is home to more than 500 plant species and 130 resident and migratory bird species. Photos by Andrew Hazzard

When walking through the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, one first notices the silence and then the noise. The sounds of nearby cars and industry are replaced by the chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves as animals dart through the woods.

Just a short trip west on Glenwood from Downtown, the nation’s oldest public wildflower garden is one of Minneapolis’ most pristine nature spaces.

The garden, part of Theodore Wirth Regional Park, has a small cottage that hosts the Martha Crone Visitor Center, where visitors can grab a checklist of wildflowers currently in bloom and ask naturalists for tips and path recommendations.

“It’s kind of a hidden gem,” said Emma Pachuta, a senior planner with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

The center, however, is getting old. Built in 1969, it is in need of an upgrade. Pachuta is the planner leading the design effort to update the garden’s visitor center, add an accessible, gender-neutral restroom, construct a new tool shed and upgrade the front entrance.

The MPRB will host an open house presenting their design concepts for the upgrades from 5–7 p.m. on Oct. 8 at the Theodore Wirth Pavilion, 3275 Glenwood Ave.

The upgrades were called for in the Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan of 2015. The garden now gets around 60,000 visitors each year and requires more space for staff, Pachuta said.

So far, the Park Board has been reaching out to residents in the Bryn Mawr and Harrison neighborhoods, regular garden users, the nonprofit Friends of the Wild Flower Garden and other volunteers. The MPRB is hoping the upgrades will help bring more visitors to the garden.

“People were really excited about this,” Pachuta said.