Golden Gate Park

Tiny Trove of Treasures

By Gui Oliveira

The Garden Bookstore, located just inside the main gate in the Botanical Garden in Golden Park, offers residents and visitors a wide range of books, gifts and plants to help visitors explore the world of gardening and horticulture.  

GGP Bookstore pic 1

Manager of the Garden Bookstore, Dennis Guttman. Photo by Gui Oliveira.

Dennis Guttman has been the manager for the last 14 years. Originally from the Midwest, he moved to New York City to work in the publishing industry until he felt the pull of California’s allure. After spending a year in Santa Barbara, Guttman moved to San Francisco.  He worked for Golden Gate University as a senior book buyer for 15 years before heading the Garden Bookstore. 

The store itself is about the size of a large walk-in closet. Inside, there is a array of books, tea towels, wind chimes, small gifts, botanical posters, postcards, finger puppets and more.  On the exterior is a living wall made up of plants selected for their very low water use. The plant store, otherwise known as the plant arbor, has greenery for sale for as low as $6 with all of the proceeds benefiting the garden. 

The Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum is a 55-acre plant and tree museum made up of  8,500 varieties of plants from around the world. Visitors can follow along on a free walking tour around the garden or enjoy a picnic on the grass. Community events are regularly scheduled for families to enjoy including story time, family walks and a summer reading club. 

GGP Bookstore pic 3

The Garden Bookstore in the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. Photo by Gui Oliveira.

A spring plant sale held every May features more than 4,000 types of plants grown in the garden’s nursery. This year’s event is May 4-5. The spring sale has been so successful in years past that a fall plant sale has been added, debuting this year on October 12-13. In addition, sales also take place Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Entry Garden. 

Guttman said he would not be able to keep up with all of the store’s many activities without the help of volunteers.  

“Volunteers run the bookstore on a daily basis. They help customers and ring up sales at the register,” said Guttman. 

One volunteer, Carla Robinson, said she has been contributing her time for “almost three years and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. 

“This is my happy place. One of the major perks of volunteering is you get to meet and greet people from all over the world,” Robinson said. 

Other volunteers have been lending a hand for well over a decade.

Golden Gate Park is high on the list of things to see for visitors from across the country and around the globe. The first thing they notice when they walk through the main gate is the Garden Bookstore, so in a way it also acts as a visitor center.  

The American Automobile Association magazine awarded the Garden Bookstore a note of recognition in an article titled “Amazing and Unusual Bookstores” describing it as a “tiny trove of inspiration for lovers of the natural world.”  Another publication, titled “Books and Mortar: A Celebration of the Local Bookstore,” includes an oil on linen painting of the bookstore by Gibbs M. Smith. 

For more information, visit,, Twitter (@SFBGS) and Instagram (@sfbotanicalgarden).     

     Read about the construction underway behind the bookstore in the Botanical Garden:

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