By Linda Scherer
It was just an old iron gate leaning against the barn with several other things waiting to be auctioned off, but it happened to catch the eye of Betty Diers when she attended her husband Glenn Diers’ farm auction in 1999.
“I had never seen it before and I just thought it was unique. Not that it was so exceptionally beautiful,” Betty said.
Betty began searching for Glenn through the crowd of people attending the auction, to ask him about the gate, and tell him that she thought it better be something that stays with the family.
By the time she found him, and they checked with the auctioneer, the gate had been sold. It had been loaded up and removed, along with a load of scrap iron, by a farmer who lived in western Minnesota, more than 100 miles away.
With a phone call to the farmer who purchased the gate, they learned that he was willing to sell it back to the Diers for the same price he paid, if they would come and get it.
Because of the distance to retrieve the gate, Glenn had to take off a day of work. Betty felt that although Glenn was cooperative and willing to drive the distance to get the gate, at first he did it just to please her.
“I am the one that is very interested in anything that has to do with heritage. However, the more we talked about it, the more he realized the importance of it,” Betty said.
Glenn did recall the gate had been used for a vegetable garden on his parents’ century farm.
It could have even been used by his grandparents, too. All Glenn knew was that it had been used for as long as he could remember.
The Diers’ farm was a century farm, with direct ownership from father to son. It began with Otto Diers purchasing the farm in 1886, then his son, Hubert, took ownership, and in 1957, Glenn became the owner. Today, Glenn’s son, Mark, is the present owner.
By the time they got the gate to their home in Winsted, where they have lived since their marriage in March 1983, the question was, “What are we going to do with it?”
The gate needed some kind of an anchor. Betty began looking through gardening magazines over the winter months and in the summer of 2000, Glenn built an arbor, including the gate as its entry point, around a garden that Betty had been keeping up for many years.
Betty has had an interest in flowers and vegetables all of her life that began way back with 4-H. She has had a garden for some 40 years in its present site.
“The small garden is quite productive and provides a place of solitutde that only a gardener knows about,” Betty said. “The gate and arbor were a perfect compliment to it.”
The Minneapolis StarTribune featured the Diers’ gate in a newspaper article about “Ports of Entry” Aug. 9, 2006. Their photographer, Joel Koyama, came out and took pictures of the gate and garden and did an interview.
It was not the first time that the gate became a focal point for a professional. Winsted’s local artist, Charlotte Laxen, did a portrait of the garden, too.
Before she painted the garden, she came out and took many pictures of the garden, and then just sat in the garden, getting the feel of it, Betty said. The Laxen watercolor (photo below) was completed in 2004.