When they pulled into the gardens, Ashley was speechless. She saw not just a garden but a collection of little masterpieces. There were flowers everywhere, but it was more than that. Everything was landscaped and beautified in such a way that it might as well have been the Garden of Eden itself, but with decorative arches, stone paths, little bridges spanning flowing streams, ornamental trees and grasses, and native plants.
“This is what I really wanted to show you,” Paul said. “The 4-H Children’s Garden.” Wilbir the Floral Peacock welcomed them through a colorful arch and onto a painted floral sunburst. A big bear-shaped topiary sat next to Imagination Arbor. Ashley walked along silently, holding Paul’s hand but sweeping her gaze across the expert landscaping. Paul led her up a ramp to a little tree house gazebo. From there they could look out over the expansive gardens.
They strolled through some specialty gardens displaying plants found in Native American cultures, Hispanic gardens, African-American Gardens, Asian Gardens, and a Pioneer Garden.
“You’ll like this one,” Paul told her. Although there were other visitors strolling through the gardens, they felt like they were in a world all to themselves. “It’s the Meat, Milk, and Wool Garden.”
“Well, the plants don’t look like anything special,” Ashley said.
“That’s because we see them all the time,” Paul explained. “This is a little section planted with things that farm animals eat.”
Ashley felt nostalgic as she glanced around at the familiar plants. They kept walking into the Amphitheater and looked at the Kitchen Garden full of herbs and other edible plants, the Enchanted Garden with fairies, and through the shady Cottage Garden. There was even a little area called the Creation Station where kids could sit and do crafts and color and paint.
Finally Ashley turned her attention away from the plants and looked up at Paul. Somehow him taking her here and showing her this special place made her fall even more in love with him. It was like he could see into her soul and find the love that she sheltered there.
In that moment, it was hard for her to find any cares in the world. They were all left outside the garden walls. She was with Paul, and he was the only thing that mattered.
She grabbed his hand and gently pulled him back in the direction of the Cottage Garden. Once inside, the plants draping over the trellis created a canopy that made her feel as if they were completely alone.
Ashley could tell by the look in his eyes that Paul knew exactly what she wanted from him. He carefully collected her in his arms and leaned down to share one very long kiss. They held each other there for several minutes, just looking into one another’s eyes, then walked out together to start the short trek back to the parking lot and back into the real world.
She gazed back one more time before climbing into Paul’s truck. As he walked around to the driver’s side, Ashley closed her eyes and created a permanent mental picture of the sweet little garden and all it contained. She breathed a contented sigh and opened her eyes again as his truck roared to life.