This year the Autumn Lights Festival will be Thursday October 19 thru Saturday October 21. Tickets on sale the first week in September, watch here for the Eventbrite link!

The Festival is a unique Oakland tradition, a three-night art and light event! It’s a community gathering held within the Gardens at Lake Merritt in Lakeside Park. The Festival is a fundraiser for these beautiful, free public gardens, which are truly the “Green Heart of Oakland.” Local artists create gigantic and small works of art using light, like this amazing piece by Imaginary Photon.

The California and Mexico Connection

Pol8A huge storm in Mexico a few years back wiped out 500 million Monarchs.  The the species is not yet officially endangered, but being considered for that status. The numbers are 95 percent lower than the high point of 1.05 billion in the mid-1990s. Entomologists blame the plummeting population on logging in Mexico, climate change and the mass destruction of the milkweed plant along its migration route in the United States.  We help as much as we can in our small corner of the garden world.  Watch for workshops in the garden, teaching families how to participate in this early science learning for kids.

“Some 56.5 million monarchs are gathered in Mexico for the 2014-5 winter after their amazing trek across the United States, scientists with World Wildlife Fund Mexico estimate. That’s a good deal more butterflies than last winter, when 34 million were counted in Mexico’s Sierra Madre, the lowest number recorded since 1993 when entomologists began keeping records.

“A much smaller population winters in California, which saw an estimated 235,000 monarchs, a 50 percent decline compared to the 18-year average, according to scientists.  The monarchs, which gather for the winter in more than 200 groves along the California coast, declined 90 percent between 1997 and 2009.”

For more information:

Monarch butterfly population makes a modest rebound

Butterfly Whisperer Brings Monarchs to Gardens and Lakeside Park

Planting A Native Bee Garden

The Pollinator Garden History:

Our park director Tora Rocha founded The Pollinator Posse a few years back to draw more pollinating insects to the garden. The Posse has ridden to new heights with local and national attention, including a huge display at the 2015 San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.

With a nod to the alarming declines in the population of the Monarch butterfly, we plant native and a little tropical milkweed in our gardens, as habitat for the butterflies, their eggs and their caterpillars.  Other butterfly species are cultivated as well, and of course our famous Bee Hotel, modeled on a Bee Hotel in the Place des Jardins in Paris.  Built by Oakland carpenters in the Department of Public Works, it is a draw for young and old, and adds to our magnetism for many pollinator species.  The Bee Hotel shelters drilled openings of many sizes to provide nesting space for various species of native bees and other insects.

Pollinator Garden Garden News