The GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt is the home to some of the finest Bonsai on the west coast. The BGLM, located at Oakland’s Lakeside Park, is the only major all-volunteer bonsai garden in the country and houses some of the most important bonsai in the US. It was built, is staffed and maintained by volunteers from throughout the greater Bay Area and is supported entirely by donations from our visitors and the bonsai community.
Docents can point out the historic Daimyo oak tree that was presented by the newly opened Japanese government to the US Ambassador to China in the 1860s during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. You can view the oldest tree in the collection – estimated to be over 1,600 years old and can see the pine tree that was featured at the 1915 Pan Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco.
This permanent collection assures that these precious bonsai and suiseki stones by outstanding masters and collectors will be preserved for everyone’s enjoyment. Nearly 100 superb bonsai are on display at any given time with another 100 in reserve. The collection changes regularly, so visit often to experience the seasonal changes. Kathy Shaner, the first western woman and the only Japanese-certified bonsai master in the United States, is the Curator and the artistic director for the collection . Our sister bonsai collection is the Golden State Bonsai Collection at the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino near Pasadena, California.
Volunteer docents are available to help you with further information about the collection, landscape plants, Japanese gates, bonsai in general, and bonsai clubs in the Bay Area.
Completion of this open air cultural museum was made possible through the support of the Oakland City council and its Parks and Recreation Department as well as the Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) officers and member clubs across the state.
The enthusiastic support of volunteer labor by members of the various northern California clubs, their spouses and friends plus the generosity of commercial concerns have been invaluable in creating this world-class bonsai museum. The beauty of this garden has been achieved through the hard work and creativity of a dedicated force of volunteer builders.
Trees selected by the Curator for the display in the Garden number nearly 200 with enough to supply a rotating display. These trees require constant care by tree caretakers working under the direction of Curator Kathy Shaner.
Admission is FREE; donations to help maintain and improve the garden are gratefully accepted and BGLM membership pins are available for a minimum donation of $5.00. The Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt (BGLM) is a tax-deductible, charitable and educational organization. Your donations may be left at the collection or mailed to: GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt, P. O. Box 16176, Oakland, CA 94610-6176. Bonsai, suiseki, and related materials are also accepted as tax-deductible donations upon approval.
Watch our wonderful video about the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt: