The Mammoth is coming soon

The Annual Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt Mammoth Auction & Sale will be held on Saturday, February 17 and Sunday, 18, 2018 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, 2017. Material for the Sunday Sale will be accepted at the Garden Center on Saturday, February 17th, 9am – 4pm and Sunday, February 18th, 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.

For complete Mammoth Fundraiser details visit HERE.

Watering the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt

By George Haas

Watering by hand nearly 200 bonsai and accent plants is undertaken by volunteers for the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt, when all systems fail. The task is challenging and in the summer months necessary two to three times in a single day.

The new overhead watering system in operatio

The timed watering system in existence for many years utilized Drip Irrigation and Low Volume Watering products, including water connection kits, distribution tubing, drip lines, fittings, drip emitters, filters, and more.
Bonsai experts all agree watering bonsai is critical in the care and maintenance of bonsai. Overwatering and inadequate watering can be the death of bonsai. We generally do not worry much about overwatering. Although, watering too frequently can be harmful to the bonsai. Because we use special bonsai soil mixes in the potting of bonsai, over watering just drains through the bottom holes of the pot. On the other hand, inadequate watering or drying out the roots of bonsai results are usually fatal to the tree. Continue reading

Word is getting out about our GRO Program

The word is getting out about our GRO (Garden Revitalization Opportunity) Program which is helping our donations to exceed $46,000. The Oakland Tribune and some of the other East Bay Times publications carried a story recently about the Bonsai Garden and its GRO fundraiser. You can read about it by clicking here.

David Thompson, the gentleman who donated the cedar from the Pan Pacific Exposition earlier this year, passed away recently. In his obituary, his family asked that donations be given to the Bonsai Garden in lieu of flowers. His friends have been very generous in their donations to the Garden. You can read about his life here.

We have recently expanded our donations drive to include Commemorative engraved bricks that individuals, clubs or businesses can purchase. The bricks will be installed as part of the new Garden pathway paving project that will begin immediately after the Autumn Lights Festival on Monday, October 23, 2017. For more information about the Brick Fundraiser Drive, please click here.

Speaking of the Autumn Lights Festival, this year will have even more lights to engage our vast audience of visitors which numbered nearly 10,000 last year despite the rain. Our theme this year is butterflies in support of the Park at Lake Merritt’s program to support butterflies and keep them from becoming an endangered species. If you are interested in finding out more about the Autumn Lights Festival, please visit If you haven’t seen the Bonsai Garden lit for this Festival, you are in for a treat. You can see our progress with the GRO project at the same time.

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 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.

Continue reading