Horticulturist Dr. Michael A. Dirr Shares Spiritual Significance
By Renee Pearman
Barnes, M.D. chair of the MSC Foundation, Macon State President
David A. Bell and Dr. Michael A. Dirr admire a plant specimen
from the campus Botanical Gardens.
Who better to launch a botanical gardens lecture series at Macon
State College than nationally renowned horticulturist and best-selling
author Dr. Michael A. Dirr?
"Mike's passion for gardening is con-tagious," said Waddell
Barnes, M.D., a
master gardener who was among the more than 300 people attending
"My hope this evening is to share the beauty and bounty of
gardens that have captured my mind, heart and spirit," Dirr
said at the beginning of his presentation, titled In Praise of Gardens:
Their Spiritual, Cultural, Educational and Emotional Significance.
"I want to take you on a tour of gardens I've visited and,
hopefully, whet your appetite for the future of a botanical garden
He then led his guests on a visual tour of gardens on two continents,
from his home in Athens, Ga., to the J.C. Raulston Arboretum in
Raleigh, N.C., then across the ocean to Powys Castle and Gardens
in Wales, Crathes Castle Gardens in Scotland, Marwood Hill Arboretum
in England and back to the University of Georgia Botanical Garden,
where he was director from 1979-1981.
Barnes' choice for the first botanical gardens lecturer was Dirr,
a professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia who has
written hundreds of articles and several books on plants and gardening.
Dirr's 1,225-page Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification,
Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses, first
published in 1975 and now in its fifth edition, is considered the
"bible" of woody landscape plants and is the most widely
adopted teaching and reference text in the country.
In fact, Dirr is considered by many to be the most influential
and respected expert on ornamental trees and shrubs in the country,
according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The evening with Dirr, which was open to the public, marked the
premier of a series of annual lectures at Macon State College focusing
on horticulture, landscaping and environmental issues. The series
is under the sponsorship of Macon State's developing botanical gardens,
a project spearheaded several years ago by Barnes, who also is chair
of the Macon State College Foundation.
horticulture lecture draws a crowd of more than 300 to the Student
"At the beginning, we thought of a botanical garden as a defined,
relatively small area of the campus where we would plant diverse
specimens that would be of horticultural interest in the Central
Georgia area," Barnes said. "In the last couple of years,
our working territory has enlarged. Now our charge is to develop
the plant life of the entire 167-acre campus.
"We want this campus to be one of the reasons for choosing
Macon State College. Going to college in such a setting will contribute
to the development of a college spirit for students and faculty."
Barnes said he hopes the lecture series will bring to the campus
first-time guests as well as those who have not visited Macon State
recently, while also drawing attention to the Botanical Gardens.
"A garden is a sanctuary, a place for meditation and repose,"
Dirr told his Macon State audience. "All gardens are different,
influenced by their makers. Gardens have been cultivated by all
great cultures. Their functions have changed with the times. Certainly,
Macon State College has the opportunity to build a garden that provides
aesthetic and educational riches for faculty, staff, students and
the greater Macon community."
To learn more about the botanical gardens at Macon State College,
visit our website at http://www.maconstate.edu/botanical/default.aspx