Saturday, August 27, 2011

Daimyo Oak

California Juniper Bonsai
Friday morning I sought out the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt. Until a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea that Lake Merritt even had botanical gardens. You just keep going past Fairyland. The Bonsai Garden is a walled outdoor space within the Gardens at Lake Merritt. The trees are in various states of cultivation, & the place has the feel of a workshop. Enthusiastic volunteers maintain the collection & hand out guides to visitors, though the only visitor besides me was a jogger on his cell phone. He seemed to have wandered in by mistake.

Daimyo Oak Bonsai
The oldest item in the collection is this Daimyo Oak. In 1863 Anson Burlingame, President Lincoln's envoy to China, supposedly received it from the shogun during a visit to Japan. It is possibly the first bonsai in America. The leaves are quite large, & it is somewhat stubby for a bonsai, but the trunk's hollowed-out interior is striking. And yes, the City of Burlingame is named after Burlingame.

Goose at Lake Merritt
The gardens are a good 20 minute walk from the 19th Street Bart station. I saw a line to get into Fairyland but the gardens were quiet, occupied only by a homeless guy asleep on a bench, a few seniors & a quartet of tai chi practitioners. The park at Lake Merritt is totally overrun with squirrels & these geese, whose poop is everywhere.

§ GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt

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