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Love blooms in horticultural proposal

Kelly Voll and John Gottula
Provided
Kelly Voll said yes when her boyfriend, graduate student John Gottula, took her to see the tulip garden he had planted in the fall. It said: "Marry me, Kelly."
tulips spell out Marry me, Kelly
Provided
Kelly said yes when she read the red tulip marriage proposal, "Marry me, Kelly."

There are many ways to propose marriage -- a ring dropped in champagne, a beach at sunset, a short and sweet Tweet -- but graduate student John Gottula found a creative way to let a bed of tulips speak for him.

Back in October, he planted a message in the vegetable crops plot on Research North at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., using 250 red tulips.

"I thought it would be an appropriately horticultural approach," said Gottula, a graduate student working on grapevine fanleaf virus with Marc Fuchs, associate professor of plant pathology.

Winter was kind to the bulbs -- he didn't lose any to deer or squirrels -- but when he took his girlfriend, Kelly Voll, to check on the garden plot one Saturday morning in April, she had good reasons to refuse the ruse: It was 45 degrees with driving rain.

"It took a lot of convincing to get her out of the pickup," said Gottula. "I had to really insist."

However, standing on the bed of the pickup with Gottula on bended knee, she could see the real reason for their visit. His marriage proposal -- "Marry me, Kelly"-- was spelled out in tulips. She said yes to living happily and horticulturally ever after.

Amanda Garris is a freelance writer in Geneva, N.Y.

 

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