Serene Cemetery

After spending a day at the Atlanta Botanical Garden I wanted to see the largest, oldest, highest park in Atlanta: The Oakwood Cemetery. These 48 acres of rolling hills and mature shade trees are peaceful and picturesque. Oakwood is a park, a museum, a history lesson, and the final resting place for the bodies of over 70,000 people.

The “residents” range from nameless poor in Potters’ Field, African Americans (burial grounds were segregated until 1960), Confederate soldiers, celebrities like the Margaret Mitchel, and Georgia statesmen.

It was a drizzly Monday morning and I had the place to myself. I have always enjoyed the peaceful, somber atmosphere of a well designed cemetery, and the mature landscaping that compliments the memorials.

The red brick walkways were laid out well, leading from the various sections that have expanded from it’s inception in 1850. The landscaping is installed by the families and maintained by a foundation of volunteers. The city mows the lawns.

I also appreciate the artistry of gravestones and the architecture of mausoleums. Here, symbolism abounds. This is a list of plant-themed symbols and their meanings:

  • Acorn – prosperity, fruitfulness
  • Tree stump (treestone) – interrupted life, premature death
  • Cedar – long life
  • Cypress – longevity, immortality
  • Daffodil – regard
  • Evergreens – immortality
  • Ferns – humility, sincerity
  • Lily – purity, innocence
  • Lily of the valley – innocence, purity
  • Morning glory – farewell, resurrection
  • Moss – maternal affection
  • Oak – loyalty, strength, honor
  • Olive – peace, victory
  • Palm – spiritual victory
  • Rose – love, beauty, grace
  • Rosemary – remembrance
  • Shamrock – holy trinity
  • Thistle – earthly sorrow
  • Tulip – love, charity
  • Vine – relationship between God and man
  • Willow – grief, sorrow
  • Wreath – eternity
  • Zinnia – “I mourn your absence”