Historic Oakland Cemetery's gardens heavily damaged by recent deep freeze

Georgia’s deep freeze in late December was so cold it killed off at least $50,000 in plants at Oakland Cemetery, according to the foundation that runs it.

The foundation says 90% of the rosemary, which symbolizes remembrance, is gone. Some of it has been there for decades. Other plants also had significant damage and the foundation does not believe it all will recover.

"It was almost like flash freezing," said Richard Harker, Executive Director of the Historic Oakland Foundation. "These plants didn't have time to adjust gradually to the decrease in temperatures."

More than 125,000 visitors walk the grounds every year and some are starting to see the change.

"It's very noticeable because it's very well-maintained, and you see them working in the different areas and now everything's just very brown," said Alice Gamble.

Plants were not the only victims of the cold. The cemetery's greenhouse suffered pipe bursts and other damage.

To make sure it does not happen again they are going to install new heating, ventilation and plumbing systems at the cost of $25,000.

"People who have been here much longer than me have told me that this is the worst freeze we've ever had here at Oakland," Harker said.

Harker says the scope of the damage may not be entirely clear until spring.

Oakland Cemetery sits on 48 acres in southeast Atlanta. It is the final resting place for more than 70,000 residents.

"Ivan Allen is buried here, Kenny Rogers, Bobby Jones, Margaret Mitchell," Harker said. "Really, the whole breadth and depth of our city's history, the good, the bad, and the ugly, the pride and the prejudice."

To help with the losses and fixes, the Historic Oakland Foundation hopes to raise $75,000. Those who would like to help can do so through at OaklandCemetery.com.