The Green Heart of Oakland for Fifty Years

Discover the hidden jewel in the city of Oakland,
a seven-acre collection of themed gardens.

The Gardens are open daily:
9am - 5:30pm
Entry is free!

666 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, California
Read more about the gardens...
View map, directions, and parking info...

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NEW Volunteer Positions available!

Click below to learn more about these exciting opportunities and to apply!

Volunteer Ambassador
Volunteer Coordinator
Garden Docent Coordinator
Marketing and Social Media Coordinator

Donate Now!

NOTE: You'll be making a secure tax-deductible donation through the website "Causes" to the Friends' fiscal agent "Oakland East Bay Garden Center Inc." Your donation will be under the campaign "Support the Gardens at Lake Merritt". The Causes site permits donors to share news about their giving on Facebook, but you needn't be a Facebook user, or even logged into Facebook to use the form. You can make the donation anonymously, if you wish!

Featured, News & Events - Aug 21, 2014 9:35 - 0 Comments

Autumn Lights Festival is Ramping UP!

Mark your calendars! The 2014 Autumn Lights Festival, sponsored by PG&E, will illuminate the Gardens at Lake Merritt the nights of Friday October 17 and Saturday October 18. The Oakland Autumn Lights Festival is a fabulously creative two-night fundraiser held inside the beautiful Gardens at Lake Merritt, the seven-acre oasis of themed gardens nestled at the north end of Lakeside Park in Oakland.

The festival welcomes over 1,000 children and adults to take a nighttime stroll through the gardens, where they encounter enchanting illuminated art installations set among the flowers and trees. The Autumn Lights Festival is a fundraiser for the Gardens at Lake Merritt, a free public garden that truly is the “Green Heart of Oakland.”

Local artists have been selected and invited to create pieces of art that incorporate light in many forms. Last year, over 1000 people attended, and it was a major fundraiser for the Gardens. People who attend get into the spirit, often creating costumes with light!

The Gardens at Lake Merritt depend on donations and volunteer help to stay open.  It has  provided gardening education and experience to generations of Oaklanders.  Here are a few photos from last year’s event:


Image courtesy of: Greg Linhares

Glass Artist: Kim Webster

Glass Artist: Kim Webster
Image courtesy of: Greg Linhares

Autumn Lights Festival at the Gardens at Lake Merritt lantern_ALF 2012 ALF_2012 561955_10151075061011360_740603792_n

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Mediterranean - Feb 13, 2013 6:30 - 5 Comments

Sheet Mulching Magic

Article by Tricia Christopher, Landscape Architect and Designer of the Mediterranean and Sensory Gardens

Weeds…. they can be overwhelming this time of year due to spring rains and warming weather. Don’t despair! You can win the battle of the weeds without resorting to deadly chemicals or furious digging and yanking. A weed-fighting method called “sheet mulching” works in harmony with nature; weeds disappear while soil improves at the same time.

How does it work? The weeds are literally smothered and not allowed to see the light of day. Layers of compostable materials (such as newspaper or cardboard, compost and wood chips) are piled on top of the weeds. Then the naturally occurring microorganisms and worms in the soil below do the magical job decomposing the weeds.

With time, the mulch layers break down and provide organic material and nutrients to the soil. Thus, sheet mulching not only gets rid of weeds, it also improves the soil fertility and helps a happy community of earthworms keep the soil aerated.

In contrast, digging out weeds disrupts the soil’s natural ecosystem and destroys earthworm tunnels. Spraying with herbicides adds environmentally questionable chemicals to the garden. Sheet mulching works with nature rather than against it.  Read more…

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Sensory - Jun 30, 2013 15:50 - 2 Comments

Lavender For All Your Senses

Article by Tricia Christopher, Landscape Architect and Designer of the Mediterranean and Sensory Gardens

Lavenders are featured prominently in the Sensory Garden, with their own “Lavender Hill” in the center of the garden. Here, drifts of several lavender varieties in beautiful shades of blues, purples and whites provide distinctive herbal fragrance.

Lavender is known for it’s ability to reduce stress and induce relaxation, and this effect is apparent when strolling through the Sensory Garden this time of year. Combined with the hum of bees and trickle of water from the nearby fountain bowl, the wafting lavender scents calm and refresh. 

Lavenders prefer sunny, dry conditions, and require good drainage. Amending the soil and planting on a mound will help with drainage issues. They also look much better with an annual heavy pruning after flowering. Lavenders may develop dead branches after a few years, and it is usually best to replace rather than attempt to “save” them. Read more…

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