Bonsai Garden

Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt

Our very own Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt is the home to some of the finest Bonsai on the west coast. The BGLM, located in the Gardens at Lake Merritt in 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. See the Facebook volunteer page.

The Historic Daimyo Oak Tree

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. — at Gardens At Lake Merritt.

Big changes are occurring at BGLM. The north end of the path is being redesigned and walled with new large boulders by Bill Castellon and his crew. The new path design will make a more pleasing view of the garden instead of the straight line down the fence line. It also is the initial steps in the creation of a new Shohin display area and a new formal Tokonoma display along the fence line.