Donor honors her mother with signage along the Putnam Trail

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 5:22 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -Monday was National Give Flowers to Someone Day, but instead of flowers one donor is giving the gift of signage for flowers along the Putnam Trail.

Pops of color can be seen lining Putnam Trail that runs through UW-Eau Claire’s lower campus, but before now there was no way to identify those pops of color as different species of wildflowers and plants. However, one donor wanted to change that.

“We did the signage project where we have 12 signs talking about different aspects of the plants that are here,” Assistant Professor of Biology, Dr. Nora Mitchell, said.

The signage project was put into motion by a donor, Jane Lokken, with the goal of educating people about different types of wildflowers that grow in the area, while also serving as a tribute.

“The inspiration is my mother who loved wildflowers,” Lokken said. “Especially Spring Ephemerals and I grew up with wildflower gardens always in our yard.”

To see her vision come to life, Lokken enlisted the help of a UW-Eau Claire student and a biology professor. They began working on the project in 2021 and wrapped it up this spring.

“I was primarily involved in writing the descriptions of the Spring Ephemerals and working on signage design,” UW-Eau Claire alumni, Michael Bylander, said.

“We would come out and see what was here and also use some online resources to know what was out at other times of year because as we were working it was mostly summer, so a lot of them had already stopped flowering,” Mitchell said.

One flower that the team particularly wanted to highlight was Spring Ephemerals because they will only be in full bloom for a couple of weeks and Lokken’s mother really enjoyed them. Dr. Mitchell said the key to identifying them is to look for pops of color.

“So a lot of them are white,” Mitchell said. “You will see leaves coming out, but then splashes of white, and then you’ll see little bits of pink and yellow sometimes.”

Lokken hopes people can learn from the signs and be able to identify the different plants when they spot them at different locations. As for her mom, she thinks she would approve of the signage.

“She would love it because although she would probably say, well they could have said that, or they could have said that, or we could have had that flower, but she would have loved it,” Lokken said.

The Spring Ephemerals are currently in bloom along the Putnam Trail. As for future endeavors, Lokken said she would like to propose putting a wooden walkway along the trail to make it easier for people in wheelchairs, like her mother was, to see the flowers.