Oakland Cemetery Autumn Tree Walk, November 12, 2016

Oakland Cemetery offers one tree walk each season. This year's fall walk didn't have the best display of colors since we've been in a drought with unseasonably warm weather and our peak color is coming in particularly late this year. This is the first Oakland Cemetery tree walk I've attended, so it didn't matter to me that the season wasn't quite right.

Oakland has over 1400 trees (they are currently in the process of performing a tree survey.)

The tour was led by several Oakland Cemetery folks.

Cemetery as a Gathering Place

In the late 19th century, cemeteries were often seen as gathering places. Families would come to Oakland Cemetery on Sunday afternoons to picnic and garden. The cemetery was a public park and was used as one.

Victorian Symbolism

Oakland Cemetery became a burial ground in 1850. As such, it was greatly influenced by Victorian times and ideals. The Victorians saw symbolism in columnar trees as pointing towards heaven and in weeping trees symbolizing weeping, grief, and sorrow. As a result, many of these types of trees have been planted in Oakland Cemetery.

In Victorian times, tropical plants like palms were also highly regarded.

Unusual Trees

Amongst the trees on the tour were two city champions: the European Cherry Laurel and the Southern Magnolia, as well as some other unusual varieties of common trees (and a vine), like sweet gum, wisteria, and bald cypress.


Source: NOAA
Part of Oakland Cemetery is located just where the right orange (EF2) spot is
The EF2 designation means: "Considerable damage. Roofs torn off well-constructed houses; foundations of frame homes shifted; mobile homes completely destroyed; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object missiles generated; cars lifted off ground."

On March 14, 2008, a tornado hit parts of downtown Atlanta. One of the worst hit areas was Oakland Cemetery. As well as many markers being damaged, the cemetery lost around 100 trees as a result of the tornado.

Since then, many of those trees have been replaced with younger trees of the same or similar species.

Fortunately, some of the largest and oldest trees survived.


Atlanta Canopy Conference 2016

When visitors fly into our "city in a forest", they always comment saying "It's so green!" The Atlanta Canopy Conference sought to maintain our city's uniqueness.

In my mind, there were three main themes (intentional or not) to the conference: looking to the future, designing the landscape, and education through arboreta. The following are my takeaways from the conference.

Looking to the Future

  • Nature is needed for a dense city to be a good place to live. Hopefully the City of Atlanta's City Design Project and Urban Ecology Framework will keep nature a focus
  • Powerline prairies: How do we improve the spaces that our built environment has provided us?
  • The Atlanta Canopy Alliance wants to use the tree ordinance fees fund to acquire key forested tracts

Designing the Landscape

  • The four primary principles of landscape design are: mystery, complexity, coherence, and legibility
  • A few more characteristics of enchanting landscapes: 'of the place', dynamic, luminous
  • The variations available within a single species can be wide-ranging in forms, leaf color, flowers, and more
  • The BeltLine's 22 miles provides great diversity for a linear arboretum
  • The BeltLine arboretum was divided into 14 "natural neighborhoods" distinguished by their ecology, culture, and history
  • An arboretum should be legible as a collection
  • "How do you perceive an arboretum from a train?"

Education through Arboreta

  • Arboreta are a "living learning laboratory"
  • The BeltLine provides a new audience for education
  • The BeltLine arboretum will be considered a "success" when everyone who lives along the BeltLine can identify their neighborhood by the trees surrounding it
  • Some arboreta focus on cultivating as many different species as possible, while others are 'tied to place' using native plants
  • The BeltLine is currently lacking in interpretive and entrance signage

Bike-N-Hike: Shamrock Forest, July 30, 2016

from Decatur MARTA station

Biking There

Google Maps directions

I biked from my place to Five Points station. From there, I took the train to Decatur station.

The 2.7 miles from Medlock Park to Shamrock Forest was the most consistently steep area I've biked in in Atlanta, which is really saying something. Long, steep uphills were followed by long, steep downhills, over and over again. It wasn't fun, but I eventually made it to Shamrock Forest. Hooray for having a wide range of gears!

Ride there:
Distance: 5.7 miles from Decatur station
Difficulty: Very strenuous
Traffic: Very little, other than moderate traffic on Medlock Rd.

The Hike

This was my first time at Shamrock Forest. Years ago, I met someone who was also really into urban hiking, and he told me about this trail, but I didn't get around to it for a while, and then I completely forgot about it. I was planning to go to the Tiny House Festival, so I figured I'd check out a trail or two near downtown Decatur. When I looked at the map to plan out my day, I saw Shamrock Forest and remembered how highly it was recommended. It was a bit of a ride to get there, but it was totally worth it. That said, if I go back I might take an Uber or convince a friend with a car to go with me. 

Biking Back

Google Maps directions

The ride back was much more relaxing, even though there were some heavy traffic sections until I got onto the PATH trail.

Ride back:
Distance: 5.6 miles to Decatur station (and later 9.8 miles back to West Midtown)
Difficulty: Very strenuous
Traffic: Moderate to heavy until reaching PATH trail

The Tiny House Festival

The whole reason I had chosen to hike in Decatur on this day was that some of my coworkers were going to the Tiny House Festival. I would love to one day live in a tiny house, so I was excited to check out the festival with them. We got to tour several tiny houses.

My Day's Stats

Hiked: 3 miles
Walked: 2 miles
Biked: 23 miles
Transit: 6 miles

Learn more about these trails on my Shamrock Forest page.

Hiking Chattahoochee Nature Center, July 9, 2016

I took four modes of transportation on today's journey to the Chattahoochee Nature Center. I rode my bike to the Midtown MARTA station, took MARTA to North Springs Station, and then took an Uber to the nature center. From there I hiked.

My full journey

My full journey

My full day cost $35.52:

  • $5 for two MARTA rides
  • $10.51 for Uber one direction
  • $10.01 for the other Uber
  • $10 for nature center admission
My hike

My hike

In the morning, when I hiked the boardwalk trail across the street from the main nature center area, there were only a couple of people in the river. By the time I left the center, the river was packed with rafters. I'm sure it was a great day to be out on the river. I wish I had done the boardwalk trail last, so I could grab some photos of folks floating down the Chattahoochee.

I hiked 3.8 miles, took 125 photos, and found 5 geocaches.

Learn more about the Chattahoochee Nature Center here.