Lake Merritt Trials Garden
Welcome to the Trials Garden!
Have you ever wished you could plant 8 different tomato varieties to find out which grew best in your yard? Or wanted to plant a perennial that you could feel confident would grow well in your garden? As Master Gardeners, we too want to plant the best vegetables and ornamentals for our climate and maybe also discover fruits/vegetables that will do double duty as ornamentals (blueberries and Oriental spinach work well). From this desire to learn more grew our Trials Garden.
Planted, weeded and well loved since 2007, the Trials Garden at the Gardens at Lake Merritt provides the Master Gardeners with a unique space to try different varieties of the same plant to determine which one does best in our Mediterranean fog-influenced climate. We have conducted trials of spinach, tomatoes, peppers and more.
Come for a visit
We do our best to answer questions that will help make all of us be better, more productive gardeners.
The Trials Garden is located in the Gardens at Lake Merritt, which are next to and behind the Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave, Oakland. Bellevue is one-way off of Grand Ave on the north side of Lake Merritt. After passing Children’s Fairyland on the right and the lawn bowling club on the left, you come to the Garden Center building on your left. The main entrance to the garden area is just past the building, with a second entrance several hundred yards further around. The Trials Garden is in the center of the overall garden area.
We hold hour-long workshops (talk + Q&A) on a variety of topics from April through September (weather permitting). The 45-60 minute talks are always free and in 2018, begin at 12:00 pm on the fourth Saturday of the month. Our full schedule will be available April 2018 for the current season. Be sure to bring your questions and plant samples of concern; we'll hold a plant doctor session after the talk!
Outstanding Plants for Alameda County
Another aspect to the Trials Garden is to showcase most of the outstanding plants that we recommend for home gardens in our two brochures of landscaping plants. Click on this link to go directly to that section of our website. You also can pick up the brochures at the garden.
In addition to the previous features, we have two Trials Garden areas dedicated to educating visitors about how they might attract and support pollinators in their home gardens. We have a demonstration monarch butterfly habitat and a demonstration native bee habitat where you can see and learn about these insect pollinators and the plants that attract them. You can learn more both about habitats and how you might create them in your own garden in the document links below:
- All The Buzz--Creating an Urban Garden Friendly to Native Bees
- 12 Native Bees You Might See at Lake Merritt
- Create a Monarch Butterfly Habitat
- Lake Merritt Trials Garden Recommended Plants to Attract Pollinators
- Plants that Attract Garden Pollinators - Details
Other Helpful Resources
Here are more resources available to download, or pick up a the garden, to help with garden issues:
- Composting is Good for Your Garden and the Environment
- Vegetable and Herb Planting Recommendations
- Container Gardening Tip Sheet