Docent note of thanks

Yesterday I spent a few hours at the garden….my first visit since mid-JanuaryDavid-bonsai-03-29-16.  For those who don’t follow my activities (not that anyone should) ….I was hospitalized for a few days at that time.

I am one of those fortunate enough to
be a docent at the garden.  I mean that sincerely.  In these days of uncertainty and a worrisome world atmosphere; it is a marvelous thing…for myself, at least…to have these precious trees and even more precious fellow volunteers to be with.

My visit reminded me of that in no uncertain terms.  It is difficult for me to exercise patience and wait until I am physically able to return to my regular duties at BGLM.  That will be a good day.

David Martin

RIP Frank Bardella

Went above and beyond for family, friends and the Bonsai Garden at Lake MerrittFrank-Bardella

Gianfranco Teodoro Bardella, died on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at the age of 79. Frank was born August 3, 1936 in Tientsin, China and lived there until age 12, before escaping to Italy from the war. His family lived in Italy for a few years before they were able to come to the United States through Ellis Island and eventually, made it to San Francisco. It was at the International Institute for Foreign Students that Frank met Barbara, his lifelong love and partner. Over the course of the next 58 years they were married and had three children; Liz, Matt and Vanessa, five grandchildren; Ashley, Brittany, Andie, Lexi and Travis, and three great-grandchildren; Maysin, Lane and Nick. Anyone who knew him understands the amount of pride he took in the work he did- whether it be his family-run tax preparation business, his bonsai trees, or his time spent with the Rotary Club. He began working at PG&E in San Francisco before transitioning to the tax business.  Frank and his wife have been operating the business since 1958, with three generations of their family working alongside him. He always went above and beyond for his clients and that was reflected in the many long time clients who became his friends. Frank had an astonishing collection of bonsai trees on which he spent countless hours. In his last years, Frank donated his prized bonsai tree to the Golden State Bonsai Federation. He was always more than happy to teach any willing learner about the ins and outs of bonsai. Frank always made an effort to participate in any Rotary event, whether it be sponsoring an event or participating at the weekly meetings. Frank will be missed by his family and the community alike. The family will be holding a memorial celebration at St. Sebastian Church in Sebastopol. The celebration will not take place until tax time is completed. Please contact Bardella & Associates after April 18 for service date and time. In lieu of flowers, donations are preferred to Redwood Empire Bonsai Society, Rotary Club of Sebastopol Sunrise, or the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt.

Sonoma West Times newspaper, 3/16/2016

2016 Mammoth Auction & Sale Supports BGLM

On Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, February 28, 2016, at the Lakeside Garden Center in Oakland, California, it was the year’s biggest fund raiser for the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt (BGLM). It is referred to as the Mammoth Auction & Sale. The auction of 124 bonsai and bonsai related items took place on Saturday with the preview beginning at Noon and the auction starting at 1:00 PM. The auctioneer, Gordon Deeg, BGLM Garden Master, kept the auction moving along and wrapped business up by 4:00 PM. High bidding went towards bonsai (No. 122 – San Jose Juniper semi-cascade) from the collection of Frank Bardella of Sebastopol, California.



Mammoth Auction & Sale continued the next day with a full agenda, including club showcases, vendor and plant sales, demonstrations led by Kathy Shaner, Curator for BGLM, and the drawing and club showcase award. This year food was for sale to all attendees on both days, something that is likely to continue at future fund raisers, since it is difficult for attendees to leave the Garden Center in search of lunch.

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Article and Email from the National Bonsai Federation

The Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt (BGLM) in Oakland, California, is one of the largest and finest collections of bonsai on the West Coast. Approximately 90 bonsai and suisuki viewing stones are on display at any given time. Bonsai lovers come from all over the world to the garden to view our world-class collection.

Docents may point out the historic Daimyo Oak that was presented by the newly opened Japanese government to the U.S. Minister to China Anson Burlingame in 1863 during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. You can view our oldest tree in the collection – estimated to be over 1,600 years old – or see a pine tree featured at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The bonsai exhibit is in constant rotation so you can return to see new and different bonsai. READ MORE.

Mammoth Auction Photos now Online

Mammoth Auction Saturday February 27, 2016

The Annual Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt Mammoth Auction & Sale will be heS104_SDIM0370.jpgld on Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, 28, 2016 at the Lakeside Garden Center in Oakland, CA.  Auction items are now available for viewing by clicking here and on the photo of the item you are interested in for more information and a larger photo. Identify the items you are interested and plan to be at the largest Bonsai Auction anywhere.

The Annual Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt Mammoth Sale will be held on Sunday, February 28, 2016 at the Lakeside Garden Center in Oakland, CA from 10:00AM – 4:00PM.  The vendor area will be open from 9:00AM – 4:00PM. You can bring your trees and pots to the Sale well as pre-and-developing bonsai.  Items may be donated or submitted on consignment.

Any bonsai material, pots, etc. will be accepted as sale material.  Consignment items for the Sunday Sale will have a 25% fee.  Donations are appreciated and tax-deductible. Contact Mike Mello, 510-886-1568 or Dennis Hawkins, 510-657-8229 for more Sale information.

Saturday, Feb 27
Auction Preview: begins at NOON
Auction: begins at 1:00PM

Sunday, Feb 28
Club Showcase 9:00-3:00PM

Vendor Sales: 9:00AM to 4:00PM
Plant Sales: 10:00AM to 4:00PM
Demo by Kathy Shaner:
Noon to 3:00PM
Raffle Drawing & Club Showcase Award at 2:00PM

Through the Kindness of our Friends

by Joe Byrd, Chairman
Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt

Visitors often ask how we succeed as an all-volunteer non-profit museum. My answer is “through the kindness of our friends.” Let me give you three examples out of the many that support us on an annual basis – one from an individual, one from a single club, and another from an event put on by four clubs to support the Garden.

Don White, a long-time member of the Watsonville Club seen here in the back row wearing a hat, recently contacted me to say he needed to sell some of his prize bonsai as he can no longer care for Don Whitethem. Many of the senior members of the bonsai community face a similar situation, but few have Don’s foresight. He asked for our help to sell some of his collection at our Mammoth Auction & Sale on February 27 & 28, 2016. We picked up over 60 bonsai from Don’s home in Watsonville and will have them available as part of California’s biggest Auction & Sale at the Lake Merritt Garden Center. This event, thanks to the support of folks like Don, is our biggest annual fundraising event that helps provide the money we need to keep the Garden open and thriving throughout the year. For more information on the Mammoth Auction & Sale visit us at Continue reading

A Conversation with John Boyce

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 | 2 Comments

A Conversation with John Boyce

One of my first teachers, John Boyce, a founding member of the Bonsai Society of San Francisco in 1960, approaches bonsai from a seemingly unique direction. Incorporating elements of minimalism, Japanese Literati aesthetics and one other strong influence… John has always had a strong preference for bunjin trees – and he likes his bunjin on the sparse end of the spectrum. His trees have a delicate feeling but are simultaneously rugged and aged. John has been making bonsai since he was 28 years old and he’s now in his 80’s. Continue reading

Tiny Trees, Deep Roots: The History of Bonsai in the Bay Area

bonsai club san franciscoBay Area interest in the ancient art of Japanese bonsai may have dwindled significantly since its first growth spurt post-WWII. But these days, the practice is being revived by a younger generation, and even, to our surprise, by San Francisco techies. Here, SF Bonsai Society president Eric Schrader tends to his bonsai during a group meeting in his Bernal Heights garage. (Photography by Joseph Jaafari)

To walk through the Japanese-styled wooden doors on the Northern inlet of Oakland’s Lake Merritt is to enter another world. The landscape is checkered with trees that are bent and wired to mimic what one might see in nature—that is, if everything in nature were just a few feet tall. This, the volunteer-run Bonsai Garden Lake Merritt (BGLM), is among the Bay Area’s few remaining places to celebrate the treasured ancient art form of Japanese bonsai. For the entire article, click here.

Keep Oakland Beautiful Point Of Interest: BGLM

Keep Oakland Beautiful Points of Interest remind us of how interesting and beautiful Oakland is and why we should care about protecting it. Please click on the photos to enlarge and clarify them.

Did you know that Oakland is home to the only major, all-volunteer bonsai garden in the United States?

bonzai 1

Japanese Flowering Apricot (foreground, left) and Atlas Cedar (foreground, right).

The Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt has within its collection some of the most important bonsai trees in the country, including the historic Daimyo oak tree presented in 1863 by the Japanese government to the US ambassador to China. That’s not a typo – this bonsai was presented in 1863, while the American Civil War was in full swing. The Garden also has a tree in their collection that is more than 1,600 years old.

BGLM Annual Report

I delivered the following report to the GSBF Board meeting in Fresno last weekend. I hope you will find it informative about your Garden.

The mission of the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt is to provide education, inspiration and enjoyment of bonsai to novice visitors and bonsai enthusiasts within a museum of bonsai masterpieces. It is important that we know our mission at the Garden and keep it in mind as we review our progress over the year.


Donation Poster 09-05-14The net revenue from the Mammoth Auction & Sale, our greatest single fundraising event of the year increased by 16% over the previous year thanks to consignment and donations items from you. This increase will help us do an even better job of caring for our collection of bonsai and maintaining our Garden which you helped build. We added sales items, anniversary t-shirts, note cards, membership pins and tape measures that were well received and helped us test market these items for inclusion in our new museum store. Our Treasurer, Andrea Burhoe, has resigned effective at the end of 2015, so we are currently seeking her replacement. She has done a terrific job for many years and will be sorely missed. If you are interested and have a good working knowledge of Excel and QuickBooks, please contact me at BonsaiLakeMerritt@gmail.comContinue reading