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From Sand Dunes to Forest: Canopy Trees of Golden Gate Park

San Francisco Botanical Garden • Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture

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From Sand Dunes to Forest is a unique exhibit that celebrates and honors the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park, specifically through art related to the trees that transformed the wild stretch of blowing sand that was the “Outside Lands” into the parkland we know today. The park means many things to many people, but this exhibit focuses on the trees that transformed the sand dunes — without them there would be no park. 


Originally, three tree species were planted and survived as canopy trees in the park: Monterey cypress, Monterey pine, and blue gum eucalyptus. Those remain the most numerous trees in the park. Other trees in the original plantings included giant sequoia and coast redwood. Additional signature trees of Golden Gate Park and the San Francisco Botanical Garden are represented in this exhibit.


In an open-submissions process, the work of over 30 artists has been selected to portray the canopy trees. Participating artists include several well-known Bay Area artists as well as many artists who are new to exhibiting at the Library. The art is in various media, including watercolor, oil, acrylic, photography, digital scans, colored pencil, pastel, and more. These beautiful artworks represent trees in landscapes, as single or multiple individual trees and including any parts of a tree: branch, cones, seeds, flowers, twigs, leaves, buds, fruits, pods, bark, with birds, etc. 


Also included are historical images and explanatory text that help tell the story of the horticultural transformation of Golden Gate Park. 

The exhibit presented here virtually will be exhibited in the Library from September 2022 through January 2023 and visitors are invited to view it 

The Helen Crocker Russell Library and San Francisco Botanical Garden would like to thank our extraordinary team for creating this special exhibition and bringing it online: 


Volunteers: Molley Lowry, Project Director • Stephen Kane • Rik Myślewski • Marilyn Bancel 


Staff: Brandy Kuhl, Library Director • Abbey Levantini, Associate Librarian • Brendan Lange, Director of Visitor Experience & Marketing

Select a thumbnail image below or the arrow above to begin exploring From Sand Dunes to Forest.

04-Freeman,MC_Oak with Gall.jpg
05-Strain,Vi-CA Native Buckeye tree.jpg
12-Sofen, Jeanne Rosen-Towards The Beach
14-Peyton, Elizabeth -Pinus Radiata.jpg
15-Sakatani.Ken.StowLakeGGPark.Pinus rad
17-Martin,Lisa-Eucalyptus globulus.jpg
09-Ramlan, Dayna - Blue Gum (Eucalyptus
19-Lorenzen, Karl - Giant Sequoia Cone
20-King, Mary Ellen - Monterey Cypress 1
21-Watkins, James_Monterey cypress at Me
22-Rosen, Gerald - Cypress Trees.jpg
25-Morago, Daniel - Strawberry Hill Morn
26-Huang, Janny - Dawn at Stow Lake.jpg
27-Peyton, Elizabeth-Monterey
28-Apatira, Latifat - Coast Redwood I co
29-Bancel, Marilyn - Centennial Redwood.
30-Boerger, G Lee - Sequoiadendron gigan
31-Perloff, Erika-Giant Sequoia.jpg
32-Bonner, Bonnie.jpg
33-Yan, Joseph - Crescent Moon.jpg
34-Antze,Nina, Monkey Hand Pod.jpg
35-Gregor, Barbara - Found on my walks.j
36-Sellergren-Katie_Monterey Cypress.jpg
38-ParkBirdsEyeMap copy.jpg

On April 4, 1870, the state legislature passed “An Act to provide for the improvement of Public Parks in the City of San Francisco,” paving the way for the creation of Golden Gate Park. A rich representation of San Francisco’s past, present, and future, the park represents the themes of creativity, innovation, and can-do spirit that run through the City’s history and inform the present. Although the citywide celebration planned for April 2020 was largely cancelled due to the pandemic, this exhibit was postponed and honors the park’s history through a celebration of the trees that created park.

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