Posted on February 27, 2017
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.