The Green Heart of Oakland

The Gardens at Lake Merritt, a seven-acre collection of themed gardens, is conveniently located in the heart of Oakland at Lakeside Park, our nation’s first wildlife refuge.

Established more than a half century ago, the Gardens serve as a source of great regional pride, a cultural and educational center and a place to enjoy tranquility in the heart of the city. The Gardens are poised to serve as an example of the highest standards of horticulture and historic preservation, while providing enriching public programs.

A Garden Is a Reflection of Its Community

The Gardens are a collection of small themed gardens requiring varying levels of upkeep. Volunteers provide much needed maintenance assistance as the City of Oakland’s gardening staff has been dramatically reduced over time.

With your involvement and support, the Gardens will represent the best of who we are.

You are enthusiastically invited to join the Gardens’ volunteer work party days and/or support the Gardens through a donation; both are critical to preserving this community asset.

Friends of the Gardens at Lake Merritt

The Friends of the Gardens at Lake Merritt (FGLM) was formed in 2004. In partnership with the City of Oakland, FGLM supports garden revitalization through volunteerism, funding and special projects; ensuring these gardens remain a vibrant, relevant part of urban life.

You can see the results of FGLM volunteer efforts in the new Mediterranean and Sensory Gardens, along with  growing participation and sponsorship of educational and festive public events.

Please join us by sharing the vision, volunteering in the Gardens and/or making a donation.

Entrance to the gardens is free, but there are parking fees to enter Lakeside Park on Bellevue Ave. Week days after 1:00 PM it is $2.00. On the weekends the parking fee is $5.00.  The gates to the gardens are open by 9:00 AM daily and the gates are closed at dusk in the winter and 6:00 PM for the rest of the year.

A Map of The Gardens At Lake Merritt

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THE GARDEN COLLECTION

1. Bonsai Garden – One of the finest open-air bonsai collections in the United States, and the permanent home of more than 150 outstanding bonsai trees.

2. Community Garden – Organic demonstration and trial food gardens emphasize optimizing a garden’s potential through plant selection and growing techniques. Certified garden specialists are available to answer questions, and offer free workshops during the summer months.

3.  Japanese Garden – Members of the Japanese American community constructed this garden, featuring a tranquil blend of water and plants, in 1959.

4. Mediterranean Garden – Installed in 2009, the centerpiece of this garden is the historic 1914 Easterbrook Fountain. Radiating pathways and colorful Mediterranean-climate plantings are featured.

5. Lakeside Palmetum – The  most extensive collection of cool Mediterranean and high altitude tropical plants in the continental United States.

6. Rhododendron Garden – Locally produced hybrids and selected plants from areas generally unavailable to botanists are highlighted.

7. Sensory Garden – Award-winning garden featuring plants and herbs appealing to all the senses.

8. Succulent Garden – Includes succulents and cacti from around the world featuring an incredible variety of interesting  leaf forms and plant shapes.

9. The Torii Gate – The Torii is a traditional Japanese gate commonly found at the entry to a Shinto shrine and marks the entrance to a sacred space. The original Torii Gate was a gift to the City of Oakland in 1969 from the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Fukuoka, Japan, Oakland’s sister city.

10. Vireya Display Garden – The largest outdoor collection of Vireya in the continental United States. Vireyas, a special kind of rhododendron native to islands between Asia and Australia, flower throughout the year in coastal California.

11. Bay Friendly Demonstration Garden – Teaches maintenance practices and plant selection supporting resource conservation and waste reduction.