West Coast Zen Garden Inspiration

by Sally Writes

There are so many different types of gardens in the world that just about anyone can find the one that is the perfect match for them. When you have weather like we do in the West Coast, creating and maintaining a flourishing garden becomes all the more achievable.

One type of garden that is gaining in popularity recently, is a Zen garden. You can chalk

it up to people leading busier lives, dealing with increased stress, being surrounded by too much technology, or just not having enough alone time, but the fact still remains: people are looking for more ways to conveniently contemplate, reflect and meditate. That’s where a Zen garden comes in. Consider it a way to create your own personal utopia that you have constant access to. While the beauty of any type of garden is that you can personalize it to your own liking, here are three standard features to consider including in your own Zen garden, for optimal results:


Use nature itself to decorate your beautiful and relaxing Zen garden and soon enough achieving inner peace will come naturally and effortlessly. You can use plants native to California for a local touch, or expand and incorporate multiple different varieties. You can use plants as a utilitarian way of creating a border or fence for your Zen garden, or simply to keep the area inside green and full of life. Whatever options you choose, just make sure to include some luscious plants.


A source of life, so it should have a spot in your Zen garden, right? Not only does water symbolize life, purity, resilience and even love, the actual sound of it is calming, relaxing, and absolutely vital for some outdoor meditation practice. Choose a beautiful fountain in the size that best makes sense and make it the focal point of your garden. Soon, peaceful thoughts will begin to flow effortlessly.


Many Zen gardens feature multiple statues, and you can opt for as many or as few as you like. If certain animals, people, or images hold a special meaning for you, incorporate their statues throughout your garden for some extra inspiration. You can even opt for a 2-in-1 idea and choose a water fountain that doubles as a statue, meaning you get the relaxing and calming effect of flowing water, coupled with inspiring imagery.

So, while no two people are identical, neither are gardens. That is the beauty of it. Personalize your own Zen garden to make it a place of fulfilment, contemplation, meditation, and peace. You’ll never want to leave!

Hats off to the Bonsai Garden

Order a hat and support GRO

Summer is coming and I’m sure you can use a new hat. We have BGLM logoed hats available online in Hunter Green, Black, Khaki and Neon Pink. We are offering our new BGLM logoed hats for sale online to raise funds for our GRO (Garden Revitalization Opportunity) project. The hat is 100% cotton twill made by Port & Company, one of the

Speaking of GRO, you’ll be pleased to know that we have nearly 3/4 of our water system replaced with overhead misters. Over 1/4 of our display benches have been replaced with ones made of vertical grain red cedar that are masterpieces of Japanese joinery carpentry. premier suppliers in the industry. Our BGLM logo is embroidered on the front using metallic gold thread. Everyone who has purchased one loves it, and many have come back for a second one.

We have teamed up Broken Arrow, our apparel vendor, to offer you these hats online. Just click HERE to order or stop by the Garden to pick up one or two.  You’ll love wearing it around town and to Club meetings and you will be supporting your Bonsai Garden.

Please note that since online sales this is a new project for us, Broken Arrow will ship your order when the test program is complete after May 31. This will allow them to make the hats once all of the orders have been received. If this is a problem for you, please respond to this email and we can make other arrangements. Thanks for your continued support of our Bonsai Garden.

Tourism Cares for the Bonsai Garden

On a cold and rainy Saturday, members of Tourism Cares came to the Bonsai Garden and helped us sort wire and stain new display benches. It was such a treat working with folks from the tourism industry who flew in on Friday and spent their Saturday with us before flying out on Saturday night. Not only were they great workers, but they were very pleasant and energetic as well as interested in learning more about bonsai and the Garden.

We continue to be fortunate to have enthusiastic volunteers from the community participate in volunteer projects at the Garden. Our next big volunteer day is Earth Day on April 22. Several groups have already contacted us to volunteer, but there is always room for more. Just email us at bonsailakemerritt@gmail.com. For more information about Earth Day, visit Oakland’s Earth Day website.

We are indebted to members of Tourism Cares and other groups who volunteer in support of our Bonsai Garden.

Tourism Cares, a 501(c)3 nonprofit*, is the charitable community of the travel and tourism industry.  It unites the industry in three initiatives where, in addition to individual company efforts, it can make a greater difference by working together. Tourism Cares channels the philanthropic passion and commitment of the travel industry to protect and restore emerging or at-risk destinations we all care about, such as New Orleans after Katrina, Plimoth Plantation, the Los Angeles Waterfront near San Pedro, and most recently, Nepal. Through volunteering, grants, business connections and advocacy, it invests in high potential destinations where tourism can be an engine of prosperity and community pride.

Ryan Neil Demo Raised Funds for GRO

By George Haas 
BGLM Marketing Manager

Before the re-potting.

Ryan Neil performed a great re-styling and re-potting of the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt’s Rocky Mountain Juniper (BGLM No. 401) at the Lake Merritt Sailboat Boathouse on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

Ryan’s demonstration was a special fundraising event in support of the Garden Revitalization Opportunity (GRO) project. BGLM is raising $100,000 to replace worn out display and seating benches, upgrade water systems, install new pathways, and more.

Ryan’s first appearance as a headliner was at the 2010 GSBF Convention in Santa Clara. The tree he styled was the same Rocky Mountain Juniper, which was placed in the auction and purchased by BGLM board member Andrea Burhoe. Subsequently, Andrea donated the bonsai to the BGLM. In 2012, at the Lakeside Park Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland, Ryan did a first re-potting demonstration, placing the Rocky Mountain Juniper from a wooden crate into a old Chinese pot. For the period of 2010 to 2015, Ryan cared for the bonsai at his studio in Oregon, when it was moved to the Garden and placed on permanent display. Continue reading

GRO Fundraising Drive

Volunteers joined together through our hard work and generous donations to create a one-of-a-kind living art museum of legacy and master bonsai that is supported totally by volunteers and donations. Now we need help once again to revitalize the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt that is showing signs of its age and popularity. Please donate what you can to help us through the next phase of our journey together.
The Bonsai Garden has begun its GRO (Garden Revitalization Opportunity (GRO) project with funds from our reserves and a grant from the Golden State Bonsai Federation as well as contributions from individuals and clubs through out the area. We also received a grant from the Walter & Elise Haas Fund that will help take us to our $100,000 goal, but we need your help to reach our goal. Please contribute here or using the box below and come by to visit the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt to see how your contribution will help keep this museum open free to the public.

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Ryan Neil will bring a ray of sunshine to our wet winter

Thanks to all of you who supported the BGLM during our Mammoth Auction & Sale this past weekend. I think all who attended will agree it was a superb event and everyone seemed to have a great time. With our biggest fundraiser of the year behind us, its time to focus on our next fundraising event, Ryan Neil’s demo. If you have ever seen Ryan in person, you will surly agree that he is certainly the ray of sunshine we need to help us make it through this rainy winter.

Ryan will conduct a re-styling of the BGLM’s Rocky Mountain Juniper t at the Lake Merritt Sailboat Boathouse from 1:00 to 4:00 PM on Saturday, March 4, 2017. Ryan’s demonstration will be a fund-raising event in support of the Bonsai Garden Revitalization Opportunity (GRO) project. BGLM is raising $100,000 to replace worn out display and seating benches, upgrade water systems and install new pathways and windows. Your participation will help fund GRO.

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2017 Mammoth Schedule

We hope you can join us at the 2017 Mammoth on February 18 7 19 in the Garden Center and the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt. Review the Schedule below and select the events you wish to participate in.

Saturday, February 18

11:00 – 12:00

Companion Plant display
Atlas Cedar from Pan Pacific Exposition
New Bonsai Display benches

12:00 – 1:00

Auction items preview

1:00 – 3:00

Mammoth Auction

Sunday, February 19

9:00 – 4:00

Vendor Sales

9:00 – 11:00

Doctor Bonsai Clinic

10:00 – 4:00

Mammoth Sale

1:00 – 3:00

Styling of Auction item purchases by Kathy Shaner

The 2017 Mammoth is rapidly coming together

Gordon Deeg has finished the Companion Display.

On Saturday, February 18, from 11:00 to 12:00, just prior to the Mammoth Auction, the Bonsai Garden will unveil our new Companion Plant display, our second bonsai from the 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition, and the first of our new display benches. The new Companion Plant display is dedicated to Chizuko “Mary” Sakaishi and funded by her family who will attend the ceremony. Gordon Deeg and his sidekick, Fabian, have completed the display made of cultured stone and copper.

George Haas and Grant Foerster picked up the Atlas Cedar from its home in San Francisco and transported it to the Garden where they worked with Bob Gould to repot it.
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We’re unveiling three new features of the Garden

Chizuko “Mary” Sakaishi

On Saturday, February 18 from 11:00 to 12:00, just prior to the Mammoth Auction, the Bonsai Garden will unveil our new Companion Plant display, our second bonsai from the 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition, and the first of our new display benches. The new Companion Plant display is dedicated to Chizuko “Mary” Sakaishi and funded by her family who will attend the ceremony. Mary, known as the “queen of accent plants” left us with a most a positive legacy of living art and charm. She shared her love and knowledge of plants with others throughout the bonsai community. She created wonderful Kusamono centerpieces for the conventions and club shows and led workshops at the Shohin Seminars in Santa Nella, and for club demonstrations.

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