Help Revitalize the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt

For: GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt
Oakland, CA
Organizer: Joe Byrd
Help Revitalize the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt  (GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt)
of $100,000 goal
62% Complete
Raised by 147 donors

The Story

Volunteers joined together through our hard work and generous donations to create a one-of-a-kind living art museum of legacy and master bonsai that is supported totally by volunteers and donations. Now we need help once again to revitalize the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt that is showing signs of its age and popularity. Please donate what you can to help us through the next phase of our journey together.
The Bonsai Garden has begun its GRO (Garden Revitalization Opportunity (GRO) project with funds from our reserves and a grant from the Golden State Bonsai Federation as well as contributions from individuals and clubs through out the area. We also received a grant from the Walter & Elise Haas Fund that will help take us to our $100,000 goal, but we need your help to reach our goal. Please contribute here online and come by to visit the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt to see how your contribution will help keep this museum open free to the public. If you can't stop by the Garden, please visit us online at Check out what the Oakland Tribune had to say about our GRO program.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on February 27, 2017

Posted on February 27, 2017

GRO Unveiling

The unveiling of the initial elements of the BGLM GRO (Garden Revitalization Opportunity) project took place on Saturday, February 18 at the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt (BGLM). A large crowd of bonsai enthusiasts and supporters attended this hour-long event just prior to the 2017 Mammoth Auction. We gathered in the BGLM Workshop building for a brief introduction of invited guests and an overview of our GRO program. The unveiling ceremony celebrated the progress of the GRO project in replacing the display benches, adding a companion plant display, inserting windows in the Garden wall and welcoming our latest acquisition of a second bonsai from the 1915 Pan Pacific Exhibition.

Notable guests included the family of Chizuko “Mary” Sakaishi who funded the companion plant display dedicated in her honor. Several local bonsai artists donated companion plants from their collections to the display. Family members agreed the latest addition to the Garden “would have made Mary proud.” Also attending were David C. Thompson, the recent guardian of the Pan Pacific bonsai, and Phoebe Ellsworth of St. Helena, the granddaughter of Margaret and Edwin Thomas of Palo Alto who originally received the tree from Makoto Hagiwara, the creator of the permanent Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Frances N. Phillips, Program Director, Arts and The Creative Work Fund, of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, who supported our application for a large grant to replace the display benches. We originally contacted her through the suggestion of Jay van Arsdale, noted teacher, author and local joinery carpenter expert who built the Japanese Garden fence at Lake Merritt. Jay and his students constructed and installed the new display benches and windows at the Garden that were designed by local landscape architect, Alexis Millar, Senior Associate of the David Thorne Landscape Architect firm. Alexis spent several months helping us design the Garden revitalization and the benches.

BGLM Curator, Kathy Shaner, who redesigned the Pan Pacific bonsai, and Gordon Deeg, Garden Master, who designed and constructed the Companion Plant display with the support of Bob Gould, also attended. Scott Chadd, president of the GSBF, who urged the GSBF to provide financial support for the GRO project was introduced to the visitors as was George Haas, BGLM’s Marketing Manager who spent hours negotiating for BGLM to be the new home of the Pan Pacific bonsai. Many other BGLM supporters were among the attendees who filled the Workshop for the presentation and met with the invited guests as they toured the Garden afterwards.

Posted on February 7, 2017


Posted on February 7, 2017

The first of the new benches just arrived from joinery carpenter, Jay van Arsdale. 

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