Captain Faramir, you have shown your quality, sir - the very highest.
The Shire must truly be a great realm, Master Gamgee, where gardeners are held in high honor.
White stone walls surrounded a square of bare earth, where scant and scrawny weeds were trying to grow. Sam was standing in the middle of it, beside the broken pedestal of what once had been a proud fountain.
"Are you mourning the lack of proper growing things?" said Aragorn, stepping up behind him.
Sam turned around with a start. "Your Majesty. Sire. I mean…"
"Strider will do," Aragorn said with a smile.
"Strider." Sam said it awkwardly, blushing as he did so. "I… Yes. Yes, I am that. They're such noble men and their towers are so lovely. How did they let their gardens fall into decay?"
"How indeed?" Aragorn said. He bent down to examine the broken pedestal. Some of the weeds that were pushing through the stonework would soon be beautiful. No, he thought, they would not be weeds. Gondor would cherish the wild flowers and the stray seeds that came blowing in from the wild, and would call no growing thing a weed. "Many in Middle Earth have forgotten the value of the things that the hobbits still hold dear," he said. "It will change. There will be gardens again."
. . .
"Not so silly," said Aragorn. "I once knew a man who determined another's worth merely by their choice of sword." He walked to the stone parapet, and stood looking out over the city. "There will be gardens again, Sam. The elves will come, and there will be light and flowers and all manner of fair growing things."
"That's nice," Sam breathed. "I would like to see it. But… I would like to go home, too."
"Maybe you will have both." Aragorn placed his hand on Sam's shoulder, and there was no sudden tension, no pulling away; Sam had grown past that months ago. "I was foolish that night. I was weary of distrust, and chose a foolish way to try to win your friendship. You were right to distrust me. And you were right in other ways, too. You can tell a lot about a man by his attitude to gardens and growing things."
"Yes," said Sam. "Yes, you can."
And together, side by side, they looked out at the city and saw the gardens that would one day grow within the white stone walls.