Oakland’s gardens are beautiful during all seasons. There will be beauty to delight the eye and to provide solace for our families. Depending on the season, your visit may find thousands of heirloom daffodils blooming, a cloud of flowering trees, drifts of garden mums or the blazing colors of autumn trees. If you miss these you may see historic iris, dramatic summer tropicals or the beauty of evergreens and berries on a snowy day.
Historically each lot was gardened by family members and a great diversity of styles was represented. Their efforts focused on creating a small bit of heaven on earth for their departed loved ones and a place of beauty to be enjoyed by those left behind. Many sentimental flowers would have been used including many that were favorites of the deceased.
Today’s gardens are also pleasure gardens, and draw their style from these earlier times. The genus and species of the plants you see are correct to the period of the various lots and they are presented to evoke the feel of these bygone days, however they are not recreations of the original lots. Very little documentation remains so we must take cues from what clues we have and let the stories guide us as we develop a design for each lot.
Low maintenance is essential as all work is performed by three part-time gardeners and countless volunteers. This means that you will see plants that have proven themselves over generations and that do not need coddling.
Oakland’s 48 acres are home to over 1400 trees, from young saplings to mature giants nearly 200 years old. They grace the grounds, provide tangible links to times long gone and cool visitors with their shade. Many also reflect Victorian traditions with their weeping form or strong vertical lines pointing towards heaven.
In March 2008 a devastating tornado crossed Oakland, toppling over 100 mature trees in a matter of minutes.
The devastation was heartbreaking, yet out of it came support from friends, neighbors and nurseries throughout the southeast. Their donations allowed us to replant 114 new trees that fall. It will be many years before these young trees mature but they are thriving and will be here for future generations to enjoy.
This was the beginning of an effort to expand the arboretum. Native trees, especially oaks, dominate the collection, however many other species are included to reflect the Victorian’s horticultural sophistication. One such group is the crape myrtles. These showy, summer blooming trees were very popular during the Victorian period; however they were prone to mildew. Modern breeding has developed plants resistant to mildew and we have a diverse collection containing both original species and modern varieties.
We have not forgotten the hundreds of existing mature trees on the grounds. Many sustained injuries during the tornado while others were spared, however all are suffering from the stresses of urban conditions and years of prolonged drought. Each tree is being assessed to determine its unique needs and a plan of action is being developed. This will be implemented as money is raised.
A self-guided cell phone tour of the gardens is available free of charge. The first stop is just inside the front gate, across from the watch house. This tour was made possible through the support of The Garden Club of Georgia, Inc A mobile application for iPhones and Droid phones is available for free. The application is available to enhance the tour experience.
American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Admission Program
Historic Oakland Foundation members can take advantage of the American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admission Program. A current membership with HOF entitles you to special admission privileges and discounts at more than 300 gardens throughout North America.*
If you are a member of a participating RAP garden, visit Oakland Cemetery and show your garden’s membership card to receive 10% off purchases in the Visitors Center & Museum Shop and 10% off admission to Oakland Cemetery’s garden tours and programs. To view a list of of participating RAP gardens and offers, click here.
Not an HOF member? Click here to join or renew your membership today.
Historic Oakland Cemetery boasts many certifications from organizations including:
- Certified Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation
- Advanced Bird Friendly Certified Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation
- Certified Butterfly Garden from the North American Butterfly Association
- Registered site with the S.H.A.R.E. (Simply Have Areas Reserved for the Environment) Pollinator Partnership