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Docent Information

GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt Docent Calendars

The docent calendars show who is signed up to work each day the garden is open.
Please click on the month you want to view:

January April July October
February May August November
March June September December

Any additions or corrections, send an email. Thanks.

We Love Docents  

What is a docent?  A docent is a volunteer guide in a museum, garden or other public facility and who helps teach the visitors about their facility.

What does a docent do?  At the Garden, a docent will hand out a guide to the trees, be available to answer questions about the garden and bonsai, may personally guide a visitor through the garden, and as time allows, perform light garden and bonsai maintenance, according to the docent’s experience, skill and ability.

How Do I Become a Docent? Fill out a form at the garden office; just ask a current docent for the form and leave it there. You will be contacted by the docent coordinator. Click on the month below to see the Calendar of who is on duty for each month.

Training?  How Long Will That Take?  We are not a large museum with much to learn about; we are a small garden with about 200 bonsai plants.  Docents do not have to memorize facts about the bonsai; there is written material for visitors.  Docents will learn about some of the historical and more significant trees, will learn a few facts about the garden’s history, will be able to answer questions about bonsai creation and maintenance and learn a few simple garden procedures.

What About the C-word, Commitment?  We ask for a minimum one year commitment from our docents and are happy to say that historically our docents have been with us for many years.  We think that reflects the joy of working with these horticultural treasures and the appreciative public that tours our garden.

Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt is.....  

a permanent home assures that these precious trees and stones by outstanding masters and collectors will be preserved for everyone’s enjoyment.

Finalization of this open air cultural museum has been made possible through the support of the Oakland City council and its Parks and Recreation Department and Golden State Federation officials. 

The enthusiasm of volunteer labor by members of the various Northern California Clubs, their spouses and friends plus the generosity of commercial concerns have been invaluable. The beauty of this garden has been achieved through hard work, success and few failures by a dedicated force of volunteers.

Trees selected for the Garden number over 250 to supply a rotating display of about 50. These trees require constant care. Tree caretakers will work under Kathy Shaner’s, curator, direction. Volunteers have taken on the duties of garden groundskeepers.  Northern California regional bonsai clubs help in Garden maintenance.

Directions to the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt -
Garden Center, Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA

From North: Highway 80 from Sacramento, 580 to Oakland. Take Grand Avenue exit to Bellevue Avenue.

From Contra Costa: Highway 24 to 980. Use Grand Avenue exit. Left to Bellevue.

From South: Highway 580 to Grand Avenue exit. West to Bellevue.

From Highway 880: Take Oak Street exit. Right on Oak to Lakeside. Turn left, proceed beside Lake Merritt to Bellevue Avenue. Turn right.

Key Personnel  

Bonsai Garden Lake Merritt Schedule Coordinator                

2100 E. Washington St., #102, Petaluma, CA 94954
Place “Docent” in subject line of email

Assistant Schedule Coordinator                                 
Andrea Burhoe                                                                                                                       
220 Coleridge Street                                                                                                                       
San Francisco, CA 94110                                             
(415) 824-9315      


Alternate contacts & Other Important numbers:

Garden Security Coordinator:                                         
Bob Gould

Bonsai Garden Lake Merritt Display Garden                         
Docent house Phone            
(510) 763-8409

Weather Service  
(Dial the number & then press “1” for Oakland)            
1(800) 992-7433 
Oakland Weather Website


1.       We keep the online schedule as updated as possible.  Club coordinators, please use the monthly calendars to schedule the Docent Volunteers from your club.  They will then be integrated with all other calendars received and posted to the web site.

2.       If you or your Volunteers have any questions about the weather, you may call the Weather Service at the above number to find out what the weather is like in the Oakland Area.  If rain is predicted, docent should contact whoever is listed as the "opener" for that day.  Openers are listed at the bottom of each month's docent schedule.

3.       There are only 3 Days a year that the Garden is closed.  New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day,  and Christmas Day.   

 Volunteers are always needed.