Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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June 2, 2014

Garden colors to lift the spirits — A rainbow of colors that lift the spirits and draw plenty of attention is what a longtime Pauls Valley resident has with a lavish garden right in her own backyard.

“Come into my playground,” says Rena Denton as she invites a visitor to take a closer look at the garden that literally stops people in their tracks as they pass by in an alley behind her residence in the 400 block of North Willow.

In fact, Rena, who will turn 84 years old later this year, is not shy about inviting people in to come and check out the beauty of a garden that’s literally been decades in the works.

Many have taken her up on that offer over the years as the lush garden draws rave reviews from just about anyone who catches a look at the multitude of colors and healthy glow to the plants.

“I have a lot of people come up and down this alley,” Rena said. “They stop and look. Some will even come up to the back fence to look at all the plants.

“Once I saw a man drive up the alley, stop, back up and go back and forth so he could look at the garden,” she said.

“People will come by and stop and talk to me. They want to know more about the plants. A lot of people come here and ask how I did it. I tell them this didn’t happen overnight.”

Rena has lived at her Willow Street house since moving to Pauls Valley back in the late 1940s.

At first she didn’t do much gardening because her children were young. That came later.

“I would have a few little things around the edge,” she says.

“After the kids grew up and there was no baseball field here anymore I started to do more with the garden.”

The garden mostly consisting of old fashioned perennials that just keep coming back every year has given Rena plenty right back.

She describes it as an almost spiritual place for her.

It’s also provided her a real education about nature as Rena has seen the garden evolve over the decades.

“It’s uplifting to me to come out here and be with it,” Rena said, adding it’s amazing to see so much color and life in the garden each and every year.

“I know how Mother Nature works, reseeding itself and finding a way for life to grow.

“It’s amazing to see things pop up and come to life the way it does. I wonder how there could be so many colors. Mother Nature takes care of all this.”

Along with up close looks at the garden Rena also freely shares seed from many of the plants.

On one occasion Rena was talking to a woman outside of the garden’s fence who was pretty persistent about buying something planted in the garden.

Rena explained it was her personal garden and nothing there was for sale.

The woman was given some seed of the plant that caught her interest. As it turned out the woman did wind up successfully growing the plant.

“This past Christmas I got a card from a woman who thanked me for making the world a prettier place to live,” Rena said.

As for the history of the garden, Rena points to one cluster of eye-catching red roses located on the back fence.

“My mother planted that more than 65 years ago,” she said.

The roses continue to flourish as Rena took some cuttings and planted those in another part of the garden.

Needless to say those roses are also brightly colored today and going strong.

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