For the love of bonsai

We joined together through our hard work and generous donations to create a one-of-a-kind museum of legacy and master bonsai that is supported by volunteers and donations. We all have a lot to be proud of. Now it is time to step up once again and revitalize our museum that is showing signs of its age and popularity. This Giving Tuesday is the perfect time to contemplate why we created this treasure, and to donate what you can to help us through the next phase of our journey together.
The BGLM has begun its GRO (Garden Revitalization Opportunity (GRO) project with funds from our reserves and a grant from the GSBF as well as contributions from individuals and clubs through out the area. We are close to receiving some grants from outside funds that will help us achieve our $100,000 budget, but we need your help to reach our goal. Please send your checks to the BGLM GRO Fund at P.O. Box 16176, Oakland, CA 94610.
A prominent local landscape architect, Alexis Millar of David Thorne Landscape Architect firm, loves to visit the Bonsai Garden and has volunteered her time to create plans we can use to GRO the Garden. Click here to see a preliminary drawing.
If you wish to contribute to our YouCaring crowd funding campaign to support our GRO project, please visit HERE. We look forward to seeing you at the Mammoth Auction & Sale on February 18-19.

How big is the 2017 Mammoth?

The biggest and best bonsai Auction & Sale is humongous – in fact, it is Mammoth. But if you have been in bonsai for more than a few years, you already knew that. No year has that been truer than this year. We have more bonsai pots for sale than ever before. We have trees from a bonsai nurseryman who is retiring and from a bonsai master teacher who is paring down, plus so many more.  We even have bonsai from venerable collectors that will be auctioned perhaps for themammoth-auction-trees-2017 first time.

The Annual Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt Mammoth Auction is on Saturday, February 18 (1:00 PM to 3:00 PM) and the Mammoth Sale is on Sunday, February 19, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM) at the Lakeside Garden Center in Oakland, CA next to the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt. Items may be donated or submitted on consignment. You can submit bonsai for the Auction through the end of December by emailing Bob Gould at Bonsai and bonsai material for the Sunday Sale will be accepted at the Garden Center on Saturday, February 18th, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and Sunday, February 19th, between 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM. Any bonsai material, pots, etc. will be accepted as sale material. Consignment items for the Sale will have a 25% charge deducted from the sale price.  Again, full donations are appreciated and tax-deductible. Contact Mike Mello, 510-886-1568 or Dennis Hawkins, 510-657-8229 for more information about selling bonsai and material at the Mammoth or visit Mammoth Info   and select Programs/Mammoth Fundraiser. If you wish to place a reserve price on your item in the Auction, you will be charged a fee of 10% of that reserve if the item does not sell at the reserve price. This fee goes to help defray the cost of the auction. Continue reading

We are GROing just fine

The BGLM has begun its GRO (Garden Revitalization Opportunity (GRO) project. Our first effort was a test of the upgraded water system in our primary reserve area near the Workshop. You can see by the photo that we have installed overhead misters to water these trees in what some refer to as our Bonsai Intensive Care misters-in-reserve-08-16Ward. This is an area where we have always provided watering from both surface and overhead systems. The combination of overhead water sprayers and surface water sprayers and drippers wasted a large amount of water and saturated the trees but it helped the trees regain health from too much sun exposure. We replaced the old style drip bubblers with the more efficient misters and eliminated the surface water system altogether.

We worked with an irrigation expert, McGregor Bullard, to test out various options for watering systems and found the plastic misters to be the best for our purposes and the most water efficient. The old irrigation bubblers were rated at 25 GPH (gallons per hour) and the new misters are rated at just 3 GPH. Even with a much-reduced volume of water output, the misters are providing sufficient water for our bonsai without the need for surface watering. Some trees with dense foliage may require some horizontal misting in addition to the overhead watering. We will know more as we continue to test our new watering system. Continue reading

2017 Mammoth Auction & Sale

February 18, 2017 noon – 3:00
February 19, 2017 9:00- 4:00

Item 102White Pine; Plant Ht. 22; 20x15x6 Brown Rectangle; Style: Informal ; Owner: Gianelli1

2016 Auction Items Generated Funds to Support the Garden’s Growth

You wanted a bigger Auction & Sale

 You will get BIGGER THAN EVER!
(auction & sale items, food, vendors)

Mammoth Campaign for Donation Material starts September 10, 2016
2017 GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt Mammoth Auction & Sale

Starting September 10, 2016, the Bonsai Garden is gathering your bonsai, pots, stands, and other bonsai items to be auctioned for the mammoth auction & sale. the event directly supports the bonsai garden for its annual operations and educational activities.

All donations are tax deductible since the Bonsai Garden is a 501(c)(3) organization. Bonsai related items are submitted on consignment basis (70% owner and 30% garden). Our goal for the auction is 120 cataloged items. Help us make our goal by submitting bonsai, pots, stands, and other bonsai related items from your collections NOW!

Delivery of auction items to the bonsai garden, completing registration form and tagging of donation material begins September 10, 2016.

Help make this event BIGGER THAN EVER!

Contact Information: For questions email: or visit

Download the BGLM 2017 Mammoth Campaign flyer and share with your friends and fellow Club members.

What’s GROing at the Bonsai Garden?

Irrigation Update

As I mentioned in my previous message, we are in the process of revitalizing the CSpaceLogo1Bonsai Garden. We decided to initially focus on the irrigation system, since that is the most important component of our plan and one area that will produce the most benefit for the bonsai. It will also save at least half of our water usage when it is fully implemented. We have begun the process of reworking the irrigation system by replacing the outdated controller and replacing the overhead sprinklers in the reserve area. This first phase of the project is complete. The dozens of previous overhead sprinklers distributed 25 gallons per hour (GPH) each. The new misters distribute 3 GPH. It’s not that we run them for an hour, but you get the idea that they were wasting a lot of water that flowed down the drain. We will test this new form of water distribution and determine if we can eliminate the surface watering due to the superior saturation of the new misters.

Continue reading

GRO Our Bonsai Garden Museum

We have made a number of small but significant improvements to the Bonsai Garden in the past few years including the following:
  1. added name tags to all of the displays to enhance the visitor experience,
  2. installed shade cloths to protect the bonsai from the sun,
  3. established a Bonsai School to train our assistant curators and others,
  4. developed a database to track all of the bonsai in the collection and the care we provide them,
  5. joined museum associations to improve our management strategy and procedures,
  6. added a video surveillance system to monitor our visitors,
  7. started a Museum Shop to increase revenue from each visitor,
  8. participated in Autumn Lights Festival to present the Garden in a whole new light,
  9. created a shohin display area, and
  10. coming soon an accent plant display.

Continue reading

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