In the years leading up to 2019, Lane Harris watched the landscape around her home in Ithaca, NY, become overgrown. Weeds crawled on the raised bed in the back yard. Woody shrubs bombed the lilac bush. The fig tree was sick.
Since then it has become a completely different picture. The weeds have been removed and replaced with kale plants, tomatoes, basil, thyme, marjoram, sage and snow peas. The valley’s peonies and lilies, once choked by the growth of weeds, came back to life. New flowers were also planted, including gomphrena, ageratum, pansy, and cosmos.
The factor that drove the change? Ms. Harris began dating Mark Earl Sorrells, a professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University. In April 2020, when he moved in, Ms. Harris said, “He just made my home a better place.”
Ms. Harris and Mr. Sorrells first met in a pub in Ithaca in the spring of 2016. Mr. Sorrells, whose professional projects include developing small grains for use in craft breweries, was there to sample beers made with New York-grown barley and hops. He remembers sitting in the corner of the pub reading alone. Mrs. Harris, who was in the pub with a friend, noticed him.
“He seemed so lonely,” said Ms. Harris. “I knew there was more.”
She introduced herself to him. They talked for a while. They became acquaintances.
In the years that followed, the two crossed over and over in Ithaca and talked whenever they saw each other. Ms. Harris once mentioned to Mr. Sorrells that she has a thing for kale – she crisps the leaves in the oven to make kale chips. Soon after, Mr. Sorrells emerged from his garden on their doorstep with a green bushel. It was then that the nature of their relationship began to change – “the kale brought us together,” said Sorrells. It was the first time that they were anywhere alone.
In the fall of 2019, Ms. Harris asked Mr. Sorrells for a date. They had dinner at an Italian restaurant that Halloween. They had their first kiss in January. By April, Mr. Sorrells had moved in with Mrs. Lane. He began to overtake the garden.
Ms. Lane, 53, and Mr. Sorrells, 70, were married on February 14 on a white pontoon boat on the Indian River in Vero Beach, Florida, where the bride has been wintering for 20 years. Their ceremony was presided over by Robin G. Patton, a friend of the couple who were ordained by the American Marriage Ministries.
Before the ceremony began, Mrs. Lane stood on a dock waiting for Mr. Sorrells, who was already on the boat. When he arrived to pick her up, he had a recording of Miles Davis playing “Someday My Prince Will Come” from a bluetooth speaker on deck. It was like Mr. Sorrells sweeping them away on a white horse, explained Mrs. Lane, “but it was on a white boat.”
For the occasion, Mrs. Lane made her own bridal bouquet of calla lily flowers plucked from plants she and Mr. Sorrells had picked from a Publix supermarket. After the ceremony, Mrs. Lane and Mr. Sorrells took them back to Ithaca. You intend to plant the bulbs in your garden.