Friends of Holly Park

People, Events, and Activities


Welcome to the Holly Park virtual community. This site has been established to provide a convenient place for news and information about Holly Park. All labor is donated and we welcome your participation! Write a story or bring a story idea to our attention, submit photos, tell us about events planned for the park, and please give us your ideas for improving this website. Send all comments to:  FriendsofHollyPark at







Call 3-1-1 for any problems requiring immediate attention!

Holly Park participates in Obama's National Day of Service

Joyce McKinney © 2009
Park supervisor John W. Miller and gardener Brian Weeber demonstrate proper wheelbarrow dumping technique.

As president-elect, Barack Obama called on America to honor the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., January 19, with a renewed commitment to community service. Americans in record numbers heeded the call, including Bernal residents who did their service in Holly Park.

Joyce McKinney © 2009
The compost IS steaming.

The SF Recreation and Park Department listed Holly Park’s usual volunteer work day (third Saturday morning of every month) in the official list of National Day of Service activities and park supervisor John Miller was ready for the volunteers, young and old, who showed up.

Joyce McKinney © 2009
The horse manure and hay compost, which is made right in Golden Gate Park, was hot, and to avoid burning the grass, had to be carefully and rapidly raked across in a thin layer.

“I had a big, labor-intensive project and not enough gardening staff to get it done in a timely manner,” Miller said, “so I saved it for the Day of Service.” The project involved spreading hot compost in a thin layer all over the ball field, a practice called top-dressing.

Joyce McKinney © 2009
Mike Farrah, a Senior Advisor to Mayor Gavin Newsom, is also a Bernal resident and dedicated Holly Park volunteer. (Mike’s the one who brings us coffee every volunteer day.)

Twenty-five volunteers showed up, many of whom were introduced to Holly Park through this project. Even reporters from the SF Chronicle stopped by and featured our efforts in the newspaper.

Joyce McKinney © 2009
Never too young to help.

Friends of Holly Park has added these newcomers to our informational mailing list and, who knows, maybe their day of service will turn into a day-a-month of service! 

Holly Park Volunteer Work Days occur on the third Saturday of every month from 9:00 am to noon. The barbecue/picnic area is the convening point where hot coffee and work assignments await.

Holly Park Trees

Karla Deyon Jonson © 2008
Lief and David plant a tree near the East entrance to the park.

Holly Park is defined by its trees. The Monterey cypresses and eucalyptus planted decades ago across its crest give it a distinctive “eyebrow.” The olive tree allée lends a touch of European landscape design to the east side. Over time, however, many of the park’s trees have succumbed to the ravages of age or nature, putting that special arboreal identity at risk. But, no more! Two separate, coordinated initiatives are underway to reforest the park with speciesmostly natives–that will do well in a challenging site such as Holly Park.

Karla Deyon Jonson © 2008
Bill prunes a Western Redbud.

Park supervisor John Miller initiated the first wave of tree planting shortly after his transfer to Holly Park. These trees are located primarily on the northeastern slope northward to the western side of the park. Still young, they are doing well and adapting to the site. The common names of the species represented in this planting include: Paper bark tree, primrose tree or Cow itch tree, Italian Holly oak, Monterey cypress, strawberry tree, California coastal live oak, and California holly. To create a forest or grove effect, John planted the trees in overlapping groupings.

Karla Deyon Jonson © 2008
Bill and Elise secure a Western Redbud.

The second effort is part of The Living Library Project directed by Bonnie Ora Sherk. Bonnie’s overall vision is of a nature walk, beginning at the Junipero Serra Children’s Annex on Appleton, winding along the streets of south Bernal, through Holly Park, down Murray Street and through St. Mary’s Park to end at Islais Creek. The first phase of the Holly Park portion of this plan was implemented on November 14, 2008, when upwards of 200 children and adult volunteers planted seven different tree species on the northwestern, western and southwestern slopes including near the northern and western entrances. The second group of trees will be planted on December 12and 13. Species selected were the western redbud, ceanothus ‘ray hartman’, California buckeye, flannel bush, coast silk tassel,  strawberry tree, and coast live oak.

Karla Deyon Jonson © 2008

Through these two initatives, approximately 80 trees comprising 12 species have been added to the park in the past year. As spring approaches, pay special attention to groupings around the north and west entrances. The annual flowers should be enhanced with clouds of periwinkle ceanothus and the big, yellow blooms of the flannel bush. Along the slopes, large flower spikes amid the large leaves and open branches the California buckeye will provide an entirely different, but complementary visual element. And don’t overlook the inelegantly named cow itch tree (Lagunaria pattersonii) – it bears beautiful pink flowers amid silvery-green leaves.

Karla Deyon Jonson © 2008
Terence and Byron plant an Oak tree.

As the trees mature and thrive, much of Holly Park will once again be a little patch of forest in South Bernal. 

Volunteer Work Days








Department of Recreation & Park

Permits & Reservations

Green DogWalks