Arcadia Farms - Naturally Managed and Wild

Originally intended as a large country estate for a wealthy oil family, the main house on Arcadia Farms was never built. Instead, following the owner’s wishes, the heavily wooded 650-plus-acre property was responsibly enhanced with the expertise of Total Environment’s designer Cindy Westbrook and a team of experts.

Respect for the preservation of its natural beauty and wildlife was at the top of the list for this project, as was development of recreation areas that could be enjoyed by both the family and groups like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, garden clubs, garden writers, the Oklahoma City Thunder and others.

The first task on the list was to plant native materials for erosion control on the banks of the existing ponds and streambeds. Weeping lovegrass and bluestem were the predominant grasses, and the project also added more than 60,000 square feet of wildflower seed, adding supplemental color and food for the numerous wild turkeys and other birds and critters. Because the wildlife is well cared for, there is plenty: Lots of deer, along with ponds stocked with recommended species of fish, all carefully monitored by a biologist on call — and, rarely, mountain lions have been spotted, providing another natural thrill.

The property’s natural streams, once dry at times, are currently running year-round with the redirection of a few natural springs. Gentle splashes from the newly added waterfalls are cooling on a hot day, and the colorful impressionist background of water plants make for a beautiful painting. Ellie’s Pond (named for a beloved family dog) is a perfect setting for bird-watching, leisurely fishing excursions and paddle-boating. Paintball areas, skeet-shooting sites, and hiking and four-wheeling trails are fully marked and identified by kiosks with maps, adding to the myriad activities available.

The site was host to 800 members of the Garden Writers Association of America, who came from across the country and Canada. They dined on indigenous Oklahoma foods, wines (from Oklahoman-owned vineyards) and Oklahoma microbrews against a backdrop of wildflowers and native grasses, and listened to country-Western singer Ty England as the moon crept over the starlit skies in Arcadia. That was seven years ago, and the guests still are talking about the hospitality, the beautiful “wildscape” and how Oklahoma set the bar for GWA conferences.