Saturday’s Auction and Sunday’s Sale! – Feb 16, 2019

We have the best bonsai for this Saturday’s Auction and Sunday’s Sale!
Also, bonsai pots of all shapes, sizes and colors are overflowing our shelves in our pre-Mammoth Sale reserve area. If you need a pot or just collect pots for later, you will certainly find what you are looking for at the 2019 Mammoth Auction & Sale.  These are just some of the exciting items you will find at the Annual Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt Mammoth Auction & Sale this weekend, February 16-17, 2019, at the Lakeside Garden Center in Oakland, CA.
The Auction of bonsai, pots and display stands is on Saturday, February 16, 2019. Auction items can be viewed on HERE. This is the largest Auction of quality bonsai and items that you will find. Check out the items and make your bidding selections in advance. A colorful Auction Catalog is included with your auction bidding card for just a $5 donation to the Bonsai Garden.

The doors open at noon for Auction Preview. The Auction Program begins at 1:00 PM with Gordon Deeg returning as the auctioneer. Bidding is  always rapid-fire, so please prepared for an exciting and fun afternoon. Complimentary drinks and snacks will be served to all bidders.

On Sunday, we have one of the biggest sales of bonsai, stands and pots in California. We also have a vendor area with top merchants of bonsai and related material. Come prepared to have a great time and support the Bonsai Garden museum. I look forward to seeing you at the Mammoth for some of the best Auction and sales items we have had in years.

Bonsai (Tree in a Pot)

The making of the documentary about bonsai and the Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt, Oakland, California, by Cole Mitchek.

Cole Mitchek is a director and cinematographer with a passion for inspiring others through movies. Originally from Colorado, Cole believed he could inspire others through movies in the same manner that movies have always inspire him. Apparently as a baby, Cole was always looking through the viewfinder of his grandfather’s VHS camcorder, and that that curiosity for movie making led him all the way up until the present.

Cole is mostly a music video director making videos for bands like Bombadil, Matthew and The Arrogant Sea, and Midnight Generation. However, he recently felt inspired to shoot documentaries on subjects that fascinated him but didn’t know much about. That way, as he was shooting the documentary, he was learning alongside the audience while they watched the edited final version. He shot a documentary that made it in to a couple of film festivals called “He” about my buddy who is transgender (female to male) and about his story of moving from Germany to the USA. “It’s an inspiring process, shooting documentaries, because it’s all about the journey and never knowing for sure what the end product is going to be.”

This all led in to a very special short documentary called ‘bonsai (tree in a pot).’ “I’d been visiting the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt for years and felt inspired listening to the volunteers there that had such dedication and love for their trees.” Cole found them to kind, generous with their time and sweet people. There was also a peaceful feeling he received that comes with the bonsai garden that he really wanted to capture. “The Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt is located in the heart of the busy City of Oakland which is inside of the hustling and bustling San Francisco/Bay Area. But the second you walk inside the bonsai garden, it’s like finding a piece of heaven where the word Zen is personified.” Cole kept returning to the bonsai garden, speaking to, recording and learning from the bonsai volunteers, cultivators and master artists like Kathy Shaner, Bob Gould and John Boyce. Joe Byrd, Dr. John Nackley and Janice Engel also really helped to turn his short documentary in to what it is now with all their guidance and wisdom. “It was also amazing to have gotten the opportunity to use a few of Redding Hunter, aka Peter and the Wolf’s songs in the documentary. It was just a real honor to have gone on this journey and to have learned so much about the beauty and history of the art of bonsai.”

 bonsai (tree in a pot)’   Click the link here to see the video in its entirety.

To learn more about Cole Mitchek, visit his website at

Changing Seasons, Changing Trees

From late December to Spring there will be a great deal of action in the workshop. Many of our trees need to be re-potted and moved to display. Many of the blooming trees have already been completed and moved to the display area. Many other trees are undergoing their maintenance and will be out for the public to see soon. Thanks to our curator, Kathy Shaner, and her army of local club member volunteers this work gets done every year. Stop in and see the work done and get a view of those ume and quince which are the earliest bloomers in the Garden.

Port Orford Juniper after re-potting and thinning.

A new Ginkgo is added to the collection from a recent gift.

Black Pine re-potted into a deeper pot to encourage new root development.

Hinoki Juniper getting read for a new pot. This is on display now.

We are crazy about our shadows. Be sure to check out the blooms on the Chinese Quince.

This great Hornbeam was just re-potted and will be on display this spring.

Our White Pine gets a new pot to improve health.

A new Elm was recently gifted to the collection and re-potted for display. This tree has a great trunk and fine branches. We are eager to see it develop.


Calling all Mammoth Auction Items

If you wish to submit your prize bonsai to the Mammoth Auction, the largest such event on the West Coast, now is the time. Contact Bob Gould at, to discuss what you have in mind to submit to the Auction. He will be happy to assist you.

The Annual Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt Mammoth Auction & Sale will be held on Saturday, February 16 and Sunday, 17, 2019 at the Lakeside Garden Center in Oakland, CA.  This is an official appeal for materials for the Auction of quality bonsai on Saturday and the Sale of bonsai and pre-and-developing bonsai on Sunday.  Items may be donated or submitted on consignment.

Bonsai for the Auction will need to be submitted by December 30, 2018. Material for the Sunday Sale will be accepted at the Garden Center on Saturday, February 16th, 9am – 4pm and Sunday, February 17th, between 8am – 9am. Any bonsai material, pots, etc. will be accepted as sale material.  Consignment items for the Saturday Auction will have a 30% charge and for the Sunday Sale will have a 25% charge.  Again, full donations are appreciated and tax-deductible. Contact Mike Mello, 510-886-1568 or Dennis Hawkins, 510-657-8229 for more sale information. If you wish to place a reserve price on your item in the Auction, you will be charged a fee of 10% of that reserve if the item does not sell. This fee goes to help defray the cost of the auction.

All proceeds go to support the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt, one of the finest bonsai museums in the US.

Commemorative Brick Project Update

In September 2017, BGLM initiated a commemorative brick fundraiser drive in which individuals, clubs and businesses can purchase a variety of state-of-the-art engraved bricks, and the proceeds go towards various improvement and enhancement projects for the display garden. In November, after Convention 41 in Sacramento, BGLM will order the initial production of the commemorative bricks. Don’t be left out! Contact George Haas at (707) 762-9154 or for details.

Your support is greatly appreciated!

7th Annual 2018 Autumn Lights Festival

October 18-20, 2018

The Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt will once again participate in the Autumn Lights Festival that bathes the Gardens of Lake Merritt in lights of all descriptions. Don’t miss this exciting event that delights all members of the family. You’ll thrill to see the Bonsai Garden lit up with exciting light features like the flowing blue lights of the waterfall and stream bed, lanterns and lights decorating all bonsai and new features like walls of light, and glowing honey bees.

The festive evenings blend live music, illuminated art, fire dancers, food and libations to make one unforgettable experience. This wildly popular annual tradition benefiting the Gardens at Lake Merritt is easy to get to and fun for all ages. The Autumn Lights Festival, which has become a unique Oakland tradition, is a festive three-night community event  held in the seven-acre oasis of themed gardens nestled in Lakeside Park surrounding Lake Merritt. This three-night event is for all ages. It entails a leisurely stroll along paved pathways through seven- acres of lush gardens. The pathways are minimally lit so as not to impede the art, so if you feel you may need a little extra light, feel free to bring a small flashlight. The festival is wheelchair accessible, ADA compliant.

General Admission – $20 adults/$7 youth (advance); $25/$10 event day
Tickets are available now on EventBrite.
All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Gardens at Lake Merritt for improvements at the gardens including construction of a new entrance on Bellevue Avenue.
This year’s festival will take place from October 18th through October 20st, every night from 6 pm until 11 pm.

For more information, visit

Bonsai School opens registraton

Fig1. In this case, the root ball was rotated and the side roots became topside. This required heavy pruning of the roots and reshaping of the root ball.

By George Haas,
School Coordinator

The Bonsai School 2017 offered at the Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt (BGLM) just completed its third year of classes in bonsai. The last two sessions were held December 9 and 10, 2017, and led by the Bonsai Garden’s Curator, Kathy Shaner, on styling and repotting. Now is the season for repotting and the students were given the opportunity for hands-on repotting of mature, quality bonsai from the Bonsai Garden’s collection. Assistant Curators were on hand to assist. Continue reading

Free Bonsai Beginners’ Classes

One goal of the GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt (BGLM) is to educate people in the art and science of Bonsai. In an effort towards achieving that goal, the BGLM has teamed with the East Bay Bonsai Society (EBBS) to help interested students get started in the study of bonsai. Highly trained EBBS members volunteer as teachers for the Bonsai Beginners’ Classes held at the BGLM Workshop on the fourth Sunday of each month (except February and December).

Continue reading

Bonsai School at Lake Merritt

Applications OPEN for the 2018 Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt Bonsai School

The Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt (BGLM) offers a four-year bonsai school taught by Garden Curator Kathy Shaner, Garden Master Gordon Deeg, guest instructors, and Assistant Curators.

The purpose of the bonsai school is to identify and instruct potential students to become Assistant Curators for the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt who will take an active part in the care and maintenance of the Bonsai Garden’s historic and legacy bonsai.

Visit our Bonsai School Overview and let us know if you are interested in applying.