Video: For green thumbs, dirt is the best therapy

Amy Cavalier

When Zora Marshall works in her Crest Hill Drive garden in Gates, surrounded by a myriad of colors, signs sporting inspirational sayings, garden gnomes and nymphs, accompanied by a soundtrack provided by a chorus of song birds, she doesn’t have a care in the world.

Zora had her hip removed several years ago. Doctors feared she might lose her entire right leg, but she was determined nothing would stop her from gardening. This is her third summer back in the garden, along with her husband and gardening partner, John Marshall.

“When I go out there, it’s part of heaven with me because when you see my flowers grow ...” she said. “God took something away from me, but he gave me a lot.”

Last summer, the Marshalls’ garden was named the best garden in town by the Gates Conservation Board. This year, Zora said, she was honored when asked to host garden tours for the 7th District of Federated Garden Clubs of New York State. The tours took place in Gates and Chili on June 4. The event was hosted by the Gates, Spencerport, Hubbard Springs and Oatka garden clubs. The day kicked off with a luncheon at Brook-Lea Country Club and included five stops. 

After stopping in to see the garden of Ken and Laurie Burtner at Chestnut Ridge Road, Ellen Vandyke, a member of the Bloomfield Garden Club, made her way to the Marshalls’ garden. On the deck, in a pot on wheels, Laurie admired Zora’s Mandevilla, a tall flowering plant more suited for climates in California and Australia. She wondered aloud how Zora keeps it blooming year after year.

For more information:

• Hubbard Springs Garden Club — meets at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of the month, except in July, August and January, at the Chili Senior Center, 3235 Chili Ave.

• Gates Garden Club — meets at 6:30 p.m. every second Thursday of the month at the Gates Community Center, 1605 Buffalo Road. The club takes field trips in July and August. Visit

• Oatka Garden Club — meets on the third Wednesday of the month October through May at rotating locations. The club will take a tour of the Lamberton Conservatory in Highland Park on Sept. 13. For more information e-mail President Kay Thompson at

• To be part of the Gates Conservation Advisory Board’s annual summer garden contest, call Joan Tannous at (585) 234-3325.