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Local couple creates showstopper garden

Kaitlin Vantrease • Jun 29, 2017 at 5:00 PM

In a normal Lebanon subdivision, there is a rock garden owned by Wayne and Judy Barnes that will surely catch the eye of any passerby.

Wayne Barnes started his 150-piece garden packed with animal-shaped limestone rocks and geodes in 2001, and has just kept adding on since then.

The couple married a little more than three years ago, and Judy Barnes said when they first started dating, she wasn’t nearly as interested in the rocks as her husband. They later grew on her, and now she paints them to add some color to the garden. She also enjoys taking care of the flowers.

Wayne Barnes said his interest with rocks began after he attended some rock shows at the Nashville fairgrounds and some in Franklin. He immediately began adding to his own collection.

“This guy was over here looking at my rock garden, and he said he was a rock man, too, so he let me come to his house, and that really got it started. He had tons of rocks that he had dug up just laying there,” said Wayne Barnes.

He said he would find parts of the rock sticking up out of the ground, and they would dig out the rest.

“We would dig two or three days in a row to get the whole thing out of there,” he said.

Wayne Barnes said he did work on his garden in the middle of the summer and sometimes at 1 a.m. just to stay cool. He had big lights set up outside to see what he was doing.

They dug up rocks from across Tennessee. Most of the rocks came from Smith County, Woodbury and areas in Wilson County.

“Anything I do in life, I go overboard,” Wayne Barnes said with a smile.

One of the most eye-catching parts of the Barnes’ yard is their geode mailbox. It took seven months for them to get all of the geodes together to build it. All of the geodes came from Woodbury. He said, “you can’t hardly capture the sparkle of the mailbox in a picture.”

The first rock added to the garden, and the largest, is 1,600 pounds. It had to be brought in on a tractor about 12 miles from their house. Wayne Barnes said neighbors were all curious about what was going on when they brought it to their home.

It resembles the shape of a ship. Other rocks look like a donkey, sheep, cow, seal, elephants and even a dinosaur head and surround the rock. Although, what the rocks actually look like is commonly debated, because everyone sees them differently.

“Everybody’s imagination is different,” Judy Barnes said.

During a recent yard sale, some people from Wyoming stopped to talk to them, and they said rock gardens are common out West because it's dry. Here in Tennessee, that isn't something you see often.

To see the Barnes’ rock garden in person, visit their home at 1013 Shirley Drive in Lebanon. 

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