of the Gardens
Board of Regents names MSC's
Botanical Gardens for Waddell Barnes, M.D.
The Botanical Gardens at Macon
State College have been named for Waddell Barnes, M.D., shown
here on campus.
by Ken Krakow/Courtesy Macon Magazine
By Renee Pearman
Gardening had absolutely no appeal to a 10-year-old Waddell Barnes
who spent many an afternoon washing the leaves on the Camellia japonica
shrubs adorning his family’s property.
“My father grew camellias in his garden and greenhouse at
our Vista Circle home in Macon, and when I was a boy, it was my
job to clean the scale-infested camellia leaves with Octagon soap,”
said Barnes, a retired Macon oncologist now serving his sixth year
as chair of the Macon State College Foundation. “I would much
rather have been playing football.”
Barnes’ attitude toward gardening did not change until years
later when he married Phyllis Noren, whose passion for planting
and pruning proved to be contagious. Soon gardening became a family
In fact, Barnes later earned the “master gardener”
designation after completing an intense training program in horticulture
offered through the Cooperative Extension Service of the University
of Georgia. He studied with nationally renowned horticulturist Dr.
Michael A. Dirr.
As a master gardener, Barnes provides volunteer leadership and
service to his community in the area of gardening, from organizing
a garden clinic to spearheading a beautification project, which
is exactly what he did at Macon State College.
For Barnes, what started as a curiosity about the unusual diversity
of flora planted on the 167-acre campus when it was under construction
in 1967 evolved into an intense dedication to help develop full-fledged
botanical gardens. With his support and encouragement, a comprehensive
master plan for the development of the botanical gardens —
actually 16 distinct, themed gardens, such as fragrant, medicinal,
fall colors and Southern traditional — began to materialize.
Today, Barnes heads a committee of community volunteers that is
building on the original landscaping and planting to develop botanical
gardens that encompass the entire Macon State campus. He and the
other committee members are carrying out this project in a variety
of ways, including donating new plants, soliciting funding and establishing
a horticulture resources collection in the Macon State College Library.
Barnes also created an annual lecture series at Macon State that
focuses on horticulture, landscaping and environmental issues. The
lecture each fall is open to the public and includes the presentation
of a Macon State College Botanical Gardens Award.
Recognizing Barnes’ long-time support of the College —
as a consultant for its health-related degree programs, as chair
of the MSC Foundation and as the inspiration behind the on-going
botanical gardens project — Macon State College President
David A. Bell asked the University System of Georgia’s Board
of Regents to name the gardens after him. Last fall, the Board granted
Bell’s request. The official dedication of the Waddell Barnes
Botanical Gardens will take place this April.
the Waddell Barnes Botanical Gardens at Macon State College
The Board of Regents of the University System
of Georgia has named the Macon State College Botanical Gardens
after Waddell Barnes, M.D., chair of the MSC Foundation Board
of Trustees and the driving force behind the development of
the gardens. Along with this honor, the Macon State College
Foundation is establishing an endowment in his name to support
further enhancement and maintenance of the Botanical Gardens
and to develop a related educational program. For information
on contributing to the Barnes endowment, contact Sue Chipman,
Macon State’s director of development, at 471-2732 or
The honor left Barnes speechless. “I was just blown away,”
he said. “It never occurred to me that they would name the
gardens after me.”
The Macon State College Foundation also has announced that it is
establishing an endowment in Barnes’ name.
“These are most fitting and well-deserved tributes for the
man who recognized the great potential of our campus and has invested
countless hours and personal resources in developing the gardens,”
Bell said. “We are eager to establish an endowment to support
further enhancement and maintenance of the Waddell Barnes Botanical
Gardens and to develop a related educational program. In time, we
will fully realize Dr. Barnes’ vision of a ‘College
in the Garden,’ and it will be treasured by generations of
students to come.”