Docent Calendars

The NEW docent calendars show who is signed up to work each day the garden is open. We keep the online schedule as updated as possible. Club coordinators, please use the monthly calendars to schedule the docent volunteers from your club.  They will then be integrated with all other calendars received and posted to the web site. There are only 3 days a year that the Garden is closed:  New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day,  and Christmas Day. Any additions or corrections, send an email. Thanks!

Click here to view the docent calendar.

We Love Volunteers and Docents!

What is a docent?  A docent is a volunteer guide in a museum, garden or other public facility and who helps teach the visitors about their facility.

What does a docent do?  At the Garden, a docent will hand out a guide to the trees, be available to answer questions about the garden and bonsai, may personally guide a visitor through the garden, and as time allows, perform light garden and bonsai maintenance, according to the docent’s experience, skill and ability.

How Do I Become a Volunteer or Docent? Fill out the form form found on the link below; or just ask a current docent for the form, complete it and leave it at the Garden. You will be contacted by the docent coordinator. FILL OUT IN GOOGLE FORMS on this link or on the form included below.

Training?  How Long Will That Take?  We are not a large museum with much to learn about; we are a small garden with about 200 bonsai plants.  Docents do not have to memorize facts about the bonsai; there is written material for visitors.  Docents will learn about some of the historical and more significant trees, will learn a few facts about the garden’s history, will be able to answer questions about bonsai creation and maintenance and learn a few simple garden procedures.

What About the C-word, Commitment?  We ask for a minimum one year commitment from our docents and are happy to say that historically our docents have been with us for many years.  We think that reflects the joy of working with these horticultural treasures and the appreciative public that tours our garden.

Volunteers are always needed!

Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt is…..     

  • A permanent home assures that these precious trees and stones by outstanding masters and collectors will be preserved for everyone’s enjoyment.
  • Finalization of this open air cultural museum has been made possible through the support of the Oakland City council and its Parks and Recreation Department and Golden State Federation officials.
  • The enthusiasm of volunteer labor by members of the various Northern California Clubs, their spouses and friends plus the generosity of the many non-bonsai volunteers has been invaluable. The beauty of this garden has been achieved through hard work, success and few failures by a dedicated force of volunteers.
  • Trees selected for the Garden number over 200 to supply a rotating display of about 90. These trees require constant care. Tree caretakers will work under Kathy Shaner’s, curator, direction. Volunteers have taken on the duties of garden groundskeepers.  Volunteers help in all areas of Garden maintenance.

Key Personnel

Bonsai Garden Lake Merritt Schedule Coordinator

John Mekisich, (650) 477-8540
E-mail: [email protected]
place “Docent” in subject line of email)

Assistant Schedule Coordinator

Alternate Contacts & Other Important Numbers:

Garden Security Coordinator
Gordon Deeg

Docent House Phone

(510) 763-8409

Weather Service
If you or your Volunteers have any questions about the weather, you may call the Weather Service listed below to find out what the weather is like in the Oakland Area.  If rain is predicted, docent should contact whoever is listed as the “opener” for that day.  Openers are listed at the bottom of each month’s docent schedule.

(Dial the number & then press “1” for Oakland)
1-(800) 992-7433
Oakland Weather Website

Directions to the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt

Garden Center, Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA

From North: Highway 80 from Sacramento, 580 to Oakland. Take Grand Avenue exit to Bellevue Avenue.

From Contra Costa: Highway 24 to 980. Use Grand Avenue exit. Left to Bellevue.

From South: Highway 580 to Grand Avenue exit. West to Bellevue.

From Highway 880: Take Oak Street exit. Right on Oak to Lakeside. Turn left, proceed beside Lake Merritt to Bellevue Avenue. Turn right.