News and Events
Marion’s Garden Comes To Life

June 9, 2017

Marion’s Garden Club, Or How To Build A Dream

Portola’s skilled nursing facility director, Lorraine Noble, has started a Wednesday garden club, and she’s asking for volunteers to help “preserve and enhance Marion’s Garden.”

Marion Vorhees is a skilled nursing resident who has spent several years bringing a patch of dirt and gravel behind the facility to brilliant, colorful life. Eastern Plumas Health Care’s previous groundskeeper, Robert Hayes, used to bring cuttings from home and worked with Marion in her garden.

Initially, according to Noble, Marion planted hens and chickens in one corner. Then, Noble gave Marion a private room where she could look out on her garden, and “she just went crazy.” Noble said she showed Marion the plans for a beautiful landscaped space that an architect drew up back in 2001. That seemed to motivate her even further. When she could come out and help, she would. When she didn’t feel up to it, Robert would bring her outside, and she’d direct him to do various tasks from her chair.

Over the past few years, they planted several trees, daffodils and iris. “Marion physically planted all that stuff herself,” said Noble. “Now, her yellow roses line the entire side of the building and her tulips are open.”

Noble explained that Marion was upset because her health has deteriorated. Noble started the Garden Club to encourage Marion to come out whenever she could. “Last week,” added Noble, “it was raining out, but I could still plant the pansies. ‘Next week,’ I told her, ‘we’ll plant the lilies. Hopefully next week will be warm, and we’ll be able to take you out again.’ I’m hoping this will spark her to eat right and kind of get back to life again, cuz she’s my favorite girl!”

Noble said that getting out in the garden is good for her, because she gets to “go play in the dirt for two hours.” But, it’s what she’s doing for Marion that stands out. Noble cuts flowers while she’s out in the garden and brings them back into Marion’s room and arranges them in a vase for her. “She’s my mom when my mom’s not here,” Noble explained.

Noble said she has several steady helpers in master gardeners Linda Rutherford and Lorene Fitzsimmons. Jeanne Harper, EPHC’s occupational therapists, is also helping, along with Don Bliss, who has recently drawn up plans for the walkway and patio area. Marion’s daughter brought large rocks from home with flowers planted in them.

Noble hopes to put a cement walkway in and another pathway made with pavers so that physical and occupational therapy patients have places to walk “with different surface areas.” She’d also like to build a big patio “so residents can come out and enjoy it. Eventually—but that’s just a dream—I’d like a doorway where the library is. It would have steps and a ramp. That would be great for physical therapy. And, I have to put up a pen for the dog. Lawton, our new therapy dog is here. And, I have to find someone who will do cement work…I need volunteers.”

And, that is how you build a dream—with flowers, with love, and with paving stones.