There are four programs at Lake Merritt:

  1. Assistant Curator
  2. Sponsoring a Tree,
  3. Garden Maintenance and
  4. Garden Pruning.

This is a small list of ways to help out.  If you think you can help, contact the garden at (510) 763-8409 to begin the process!

Assistant Curator Program and Revised Foster Tree Program

Curator Kathy Shaner, began a program in 2006 called Fostering Bonsai. Foster Parents are assigned by a curator (or assistant curator) after they have shown consistent dedicated care and understanding of the trees they have been working on. Under Kathy’s direct or indirect supervision, foster parents will also participate in pruning, wiring, restyling and repotting. These individuals will then lead other teams of approved volunteers.

The following categories are assigned to assistant curators who are indicated by each group

1) Pines
Split into 2 Sections based on what is similar to working
Black pine, Red Pine (24+)
Cork, Monterey, Ponderosa, Jeffery
Assistant curators: Andrea Burhoe

2) Collected Juniper
Tosho, California, Sierra, Utah, Arizona (20)
Assistant curator: Janice Dilbeck

3) Domestic Juniper
San Jose, Kishu, Procumbins, Prostrata,
Femina, Itoygawa, Shimpaku

Assistant curator: Gary Tom

4) Deciduous Trees
Split into 3 Groups
Maples (25)
Elms, Zelkova, Hackberry, hornbeam
Liquid Amber, Gingko, Boston Ivy
Assistant curators: Marsha Mekisich
Donna Farmer

5) Oaks
Cork, Cost Live, Diamyo
Assistant curator: Jerry Carpenter

6) Flowering Fruiting
Split into 3 groups
Crabapple, Apple, Plum, Hawthorn
Flowering: Wisteria, Japanese Quince, Ume, Dogwood, Myrtle, Cherry, Winter Hazel; Fruiting: Chinese Quince, Persimmon, Beauty Berry, Pomegranate, Grape

7) Azalea
Assistant curators: Gordon Deeg and Janette Arnold

8) Broad Leaf Evergreen
Split into 2 groups
Evergreen: Olive, Silverberry, Boxwoods,
Eleagnus, Privet, Ivy

Evergreen Flower/Fruit: Guava, Camilla, Firethorn, Orange
Assistant curator: Jerry Carpenter

9) Conifers
Several different section to be used in training
Hinoki, Port Orford, Sawara
Mendocino Cypress, Monterey Cypress
Ezo Spruce
Assistant curator: Kathy Shaner

10) Tropical/Semi-Tropical
Ficus, Fig, Nerafolia, Bougainvillea, Gardenia
Assistant Curator: Jerry Carpenter

11) Shohin
Assistant curator: Janette Arnold

12) Accent Plants

Tree # 101, Bill Sullivan’s redwood, sponsored by the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS)

Tree # 101, Bill Sullivan’s redwood, sponsored by the Redwood Empire
Bonsai Society (REBS)

Sponsoring A Tree

Each of our bonsai requires hours of maintenance, pounds of wire, quarts of quality soil, fertilizer and pots.  All these elements add up to many hours and dollars to care for every tree.

We are very excited about our newest program:  sponsoring a bonsai.  Sponsors will pay for the maintenance of a specific tree for an entire repotting cycle of three years. This is an opportunity for you or a group or your club to support a tree of your choice over a 3-year period.  Sponsorship fees will vary with the size of the tree but are anticipated to be in the range of $200-1000 per year.

There are more than 200 trees from which you may choose, so start planning now.  At your next club meeting, ask the members which of the Garden’s trees they might like to sponsor.  Or consider an individual sponsorship.  When you’ve made a decision, contact Andrea Burhoe.  Sponsors will be acknowledged in our handout.  And of course, individual contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


Members of the San Mateo Bonsai Kai weeding Tosh’s Path early one Sunday morning in June 2007 - an incredible group of workers!

Members of the San Mateo Bonsai Kai weeding Tosh’s Path early one Sunday morning in June 2007 -an incredible group of workers!

Garden Maintenance

Anyone with horticultural experience, a home gardener for instance, can help the Garden tremendously by volunteering to:

1) Weed, weed, weed
2) Remove dead flowers from landscape plants
3) Rake fallen leaves in the fall
4) Helping to install new designs for the landscape






Pruning landscape plants

Pruning landscape plants

Garden Pruning

The Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt is a garden with many landscape plants which need tending.  Those with garden experience are invited to help maintain the landscape plants: prune the trees and shrubs in appropriate season, remove dead flowers and other unromantic but quite satisfying tasks.