Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
College History



Florence L. Barrows

A 1911 graduate of Smith College, Florence Barrows received her master’s degree from Storrs Agricultural College (now UConn) in 1927, and a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1935. An instructor and assistant professor at Connecticut College from 1919-1932, she was also director of its botanic garden.

Between 1932-1942, she researched plant genetics at Boyce Thompson Institute, before coming to Wheaton to teach bacteriology, microbiology and botany from 1943 to 1953. Ironically, Dr. Barrows was listed in American Men of Science.

Dr. Barrows took responsibility for the college’s herbarium, and in 1946 was made director of the Department of Gardens, Trees and Shrubs. This placed her in charge of the campus landscaping (including the Pike Memorial Bird Feeder), gardens, greenhouses and trees (as well as class trees).

The greenhouses were used to raise annuals for the campus and seedlings for the college farm. Her desire to maintain the natural and informal campus landscaping often conflicted with the Departments of Grounds and Buildings, which had to provide the labor.

Barrows established a nursery and experimental cutting garden in back of the President’s House to support not only the college’s need for flowers at Commencement and other festivities, but also student laboratory work in Plant Culture and Landscape Design and her own research on Cucurbita (gourd) genetics. For one such class, Christa Arnold (Buergin) W1950 developed a landscape design for Shepard Court that was implemented over time.

When Dr. Barrows retired from Wheaton in 1953, the Trustees named her Associate Professor Emerita. The green between Larcom, Chapin, and Emerson Dining Hall was named “Barrows Green” in 1953 to honor Dr. Barrows then took up a research position at the Smith College Genetics Experiment Station. There she assisted in the development of Rudbeckias from wild Black-eyed Susans. The seeds were later sold to the Burpee Seed Company in Philadelphia and renamed “Gloriosa Daisies.”

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