Directed by Douglas Sirk, a widow falls in love with the young gardener who lives an independent life, but her children and old friends object to her marrying him.
Sara Warren (Agnes Moorehead) comes over and tells Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) that she cannot stay for lunch but invites her to the country club for dinner. The gardener Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson) helps Cary carry a box, and she invites him to have lunch with her. They talk about gardening, and he says he got interested in trees at agriculture school. He tells her about a silver-tip spruce which they say only thrives where there is love.
Kay (Gloria Talbott) and Ned (William Reynolds) come home and learn their mother Cary is going out with Harvey. Kay is glad to see that Cary is in a beautiful red dress and is not mourning her late husband anymore. Kay says Ned has an Oedipus complex. Harvey (Conrad Nagel) comes in, and Ned gives them martinis. Harvey and Cary go to the country club party. Married Howard Hoffer (Donald Curtis) dances with Cary, takes her outside, kisses her, and suggests they meet in New York. She tells him to forget it. Harvey takes Cary home and asks if she is ready to marry again. He offers her affection. Outside Kay tries to explain things to Freddie (David Janssen), and he kisses her.
Two weeks later Ron is back pruning Cary’s trees. He says he is not coming back anymore but will find someone to do the work. He invites her to come over to see trees at his place. She goes in his car to his cabin in the woods. She sees his greenhouse and explores the old mill with him. A bird frightens her, and she clings to him for a moment. She suggests the old mill could be a good place to live. She is about to leave when he kisses her. He drives her home and says he is going to buy trees upstate and will see her when he gets back.
Sara calls on Cary to invite her to dinner. Sara urges her to get a television. Ron comes to the door and invites Cary to go out with his friends. Sara leaves, and Cary declines her dinner invitation. Cary goes with Ron, who introduces her to Mick Anderson (Charles Drake) and Alida Anderson (Virginia Grey). They drink wine by the fire. Cary reads from Walden by Thoreau which she found open. Alida says Ron lives it and taught Mick to be true to himself rather than to seek money and keep up with the Joneses. Mary Ann (Merry Anders) is going out but wants to see Ron. Friends come over and bring food. Ron plays piano and sings while people dance. Then he dances with Cary.
On a winter night Cary visits Ron who is feeding a reindeer. She sees he has made the old mill into a home. He says he fixed it up for her and asks her to marry him. She says it is impossible to give up her children’s home. He says she is afraid, and she says he is right. She accidentally breaks the pottery he spent hours fixing. He puts on her boots for her, and she cries. She says she loves him so much, and they kiss. They lay by the fire, and she says it won’t be easy and asks for his help.
At the meat market Cary sees the gossip Mona Plash (Jacqueline de Wit). Cary gets in the car with Ron and realizes she has to tell her children. Cary tells Sara she is in love with Ron and will marry him. Sara says what people will believe from Mona. Cary refuses to give up Ron because people are hateful. Sara apologizes and invites her to bring Ron to her party.
Ned comes home, and Cary tells Kay and him that she is going to get married. Ned assumes it is elderly Harvey, and he is upset it is Ron. She asks them to give Ron a chance. Ron arrives, and Ned makes martinis. Ron tells them they are not going to be living there. Kay explains that Cary is conventional. Ned and Kay say they are going out. Cary and Ron go in his car to Sara’s party, where people are expecting them. Sara tells Ron she wants to be his friend. Sara’s daughter implies that Ron is marrying Cary for her money. Howard kisses Cary, and Ron subdues him and leaves with Cary. Ron tells her that nothing is important but them. Ron leaves, and Ned tells Cary she is not thinking straight. He says Kirby is against everything his father stood for. She admits she intends to do this, and he says he would be ashamed to visit her.
The next day Kay comes in crying because a kid make a crack about Cary and Ron. Kay had a fight with Freddie. Cary goes to see Ron and says Ned left home. She says they will have to wait to marry so that her children can get used to him. He says he could let himself be changed and live in her house, but he won’t let others run their lives. He says she is making it a choice, and she must choose. She says it is all over and leaves.
Sara admits to Cary that Ron is a nice guy, but she says Cary did the right thing. Cary gets a call from Ned and tells him, but he quickly says goodbye.
In the snow Cary waits at the train and tells a doctor she has been having headaches. She gets a note that the kids could not make it. She looks at Christmas trees and sees Ron. She wants to buy a silver-tip spruce, and Ron says she remembered. Mary Ann comes up to Ron, and Cary decides on another tree and leaves.
At home Cary decorates her Christmas tree, and she hears children singing “Joy to the World.” Kay and Ned come in. Kay shows her a ring and says she is going to marry Freddie after she graduates. Cary asks if she is too young, but Kay says Cary married at seventeen. Kay assumes that Cary did not really love Ron. Ned says he is going to Paris for a year and then to Iran. He suggests they sell the house. Kay cries and tells Cary she is sorry. Ned brings in a television for Cary.
Ron and Mick are hunting in the woods. Mick says Ron is not good for anything since he broke up with Cary. Mick advises him to call her up and apologize. Ron says she has to make up her own mind.
Dr. Hennessy tells Cary that nothing organic is wrong with her. He says she is running away from life and suggests she marry him. She says it is too late and that he may have found someone else. He says if she loves him, she would go to him. On the street Cary sees Alida, and she says that Mary Ann is marrying a boy from New Jersey. Cary drives to Ron’s place. Returning from hunting, Ron sees her drive off. He calls to her and falls off a precipice in the snow. At home Cary paces the floor. Alida comes in and says Ron had an accident. They go to him, but he is asleep. She notices how beautiful his house is. Cary asks why it took her so long to make her own decisions. Alida says it took time for her and Mick too. Cary waits for Ron to wake up. Dr. Hennessy tells her that Ron had a concussion, and she can help him. Ron wakes up and sees Cary, and she says she has come home.
In this romantic drama an unconventional love challenges the social network of a widow and her grown children, but she learns from the naturalist how to be true to herself and to her love in spite of the opinions of other people.