When I first start offering weddings at the farm, I needed a place to hold a ceremony. We “bush hogged” an area out in the field in the shape of a large oval. It was a perfect spot that overlooked the pond and also offered a nice view of the back of the barn. It was a space in keeping with the feel of the farm. I didn’t want the space to look out of place or unnatural so I bought logs and long sturdy boards to make benches. I planted some flowers and over the years, always spent a lot of time watering the flowers in this area. I also put a small arch but it never seemed to look just right. I fought with this arch as it was small and not in proportion to the area, the soil was harsh and I could never get any vines to grow up over it and couples always wanted to decorate the arch for their ceremony.
I understood this but also felt it was a waste of resources as it required a lot of material to make it look right and even still it never really seemed to fit in and belong. The things I had planted – including the arch – looked out of place and were not really native to the area. My daughter, Carlyle suggested that I plant native species which would stand up to the wind and scorching sun. I did; and we took everything out and started again. It’s our third year with the “Carlyle Garden” first a large planting to form an aisle and then last year a larger planting under the new arch.
Last year I asked Shawn to build some sort of archway that would be more in keeping with the space, something unobtrusive that would frame the land but not distract from the view. I decided to remove the old arch – under protest from some! Several weeks passed by and our first wedding was fast approaching, yet there was still nothing from Shawn. Then one day I returned home from a trip to the city and noticed his excavator out in the field placing a true-to-Shawn-style, go-big-or-go-home arch. It was over 40 feet long and 20 feet high. I called it the “Gateway to St. Louis” here at South Pond. Joking aside, I always trust Shawn and his instincts about what looks right, and after a few days, I saw what he saw. The archway is a beautiful structure and perfectly frames the pond. The first weddings was perfect. I’ve planted more native species around it, and I know this year they will be full and beautiful.