Native Plant Crew

We exist to support the cultivation and enjoyment of Native Plants within northwest San Diego County and to provide community education on the benefits of Native Plants.

The Native Plant Crew

The Buena Vista Native Plant Crew is a loosely organized group that meets every Monday at the Nature Center at 9:00 am to take care of the BVAS Nature Center Preserve (which includes the grounds, picnic area, and trail), conduct weeding, propagate California natives, and learn from each other. All tools and gloves are provided. Come any Monday ready to work, no notice required.

summer camp 2016 learning about pine cones

Home Garden Tour

California Native Plant Garden Tour, Sunday April 21st at 2pm

Come see over 18 Native Plant Gardens in the Historic Seaside Neighborhood of Downtown Oceanside!

Plant experts and neighborhood locals will lead a 1.5 mile walking tour to see these wonderful front yard gardens. Meet at 2pm, Sunday, April 21st in the St. Mary School parking lot at 515 Wisconsin Ave. The guided walk is free. Kids will be selling lemonade and cookies along the route. St. Mary Star School is one block east of the 101 Cafe near Coast Highway and Wisconsin St. The Oceanside Coastal Neighborhood Association and Buena Vista Audubon Society sponsor our 2024,   20th Annual Tour.

760-439-2473     or

Link to map of Home Garden Tour

Link to poster of Home Garden Tour

Other Gardens We Have Planted

The front of Cream of the Crop Grocery on Coast Highway was landscaped by us as a great example of how native plants can look great on a busy street!
We worked with Surfrider Ocean Friendly Gardens to host a class on how to build bioswales. The class planted the side of the Econo Lube on Vista Way to harvest all of the roof drainage on the south side.
We planted 500ft of a hot slope on El Camino at Mesa Drive by working with and the City of Oceanside.It is watered only by a drive spray from a water truck once a month.
We planted the front of the Cemetery on Coast Highway near Oceanside Blvd.
The southern slope of the Brooks St bridge over I-5 was also planted by us to help kids at the after school program learn about natives.

School Gardens

In addition to maintaining the native habitat and planted areas of the Nature Center, the club supports eight school gardens. Due to covid, programs have not fully restarted but we have supported these gardens with regular teaching and/or free plants in the past. Contact us (below) if you would like to support this effort or come to learn how to start a garden at your school. The current gardens are: Oceanside (Mission Elementary, Laurel Elementary, South Oceanside, St. Mary by the Sea, Ditmar), Vista High School stadium slope, and The Winston School Del Mar.


For questions or to volunteer, contact the plant club at or leave a message at the Nature Center (760-439-2473) for Joan Bockman.

The Nature Center has a very good library of books about California Natives.

Interested in Joining Us?

We have events every month and we would love for you to join us!

Why Native Plants are better for Birds and People!

Great article by National Audubon, explaining the benefits of native plants

What is a Native Plant Garden?

BV nature trail dec 2015 S MartinOur coastal hillsides are covered with plants that some people call weeds, but anyone who takes time to learn about these "weeds" soon finds a vast number of attractive and interesting native species that would make great additions to their gardens.  San Diego Coastal Sage Scrub rivals the rainforest for the diversity of plant and animal life!

The BVAS native plant garden is a small scale demonstration habitat that showcases these native species and increases our understanding of the world as we observe the web of life in action.

Native plants are those plants that have evolved here, not those introduced by man.  When a plant has been introduced within the past few hundred years, the necessary adaptations haven't had time to occur.  Often native species are lost as the new plant takes over.  Pampas grass is an example of an introduced plant. It does not provide food or shelter and has destroyed native areas.

Isn't it Hard to Maintain?

Native plant gardens are easier to maintain than ornamental gardens once you understand them.  The plants rest during Summer/Fall and grow in Winter. If native plants are watered in the late summer, the dormant season is interrupted and harmful bugs and microbes continue to multiply.  It is best to let the garden dry out for one month during August.  The growing season starts with the rains in October.  Pruning is twice a year in January and August.

Recommended Reading

The California Landscape:
The Homeowner's Design Guide to Restoring Its Beauty and Balance
By Greg Rubin and Lucy Warren

The Drought-Defying California Garden:
230 Native Plants for a Lush Low-Water Landscape
By Greg Rubin and Lucy Warren

San Diego County Native Plants
By James Lightner

The California Landscape Garden:
By Mark Fransis and Andreas Reiman

Growing California Native Plants:
By Marjorie Schmidt

Roadside Plants of Southern California:
By Thomas J. Belzer

Southern California Native Plant for School Gardens:
By Betsy Landis

California's Changing Landscape:
By Barbour


Additional Reference Sources

For more information, the following links will guide you in the right directions...

California Native Plant Society

San Diego chapter of CNPS

Calscape, native plant landscaping database for California

Moosa Creek Nursery

Tree of Life Nursery

California Invasive Plant Council

Las Pilitas Nursery

Want to Donate Equipment?

Have extra gardening supplies that you don't need anymore? We would love to have it! Here is what we need:

  • Hand trowels (huge need)
  • Shovels
  • Rakes
  • Wheel barrow
  • Push broom
  • New hoses
  • Buckets that don't leak

Please only donate tools that are nearly new or "gently used"

Nature Center Garden

What is in the garden?

The Nature Center garden is made up of 3 zones. The street frontage of the building is intended to show a large scale native landscape that simulates a riparian scene. The entrance to the building is surrounded by a specimen garden that showcases various plants. The back patio area demonstrates a smaller "condo" garden.

Directly adjacent to the lagoon, plants are selected more for compatibility with the lagoon ecosystem. This area is more of a habitat than a garden."

Additional Plants

Big Mesa Sage Salvia
California Fuschia Zauchneria septentrionalis
Checkers Sidalcea neomexicana
Live Forever Dudleya pulverulenta
Mallow Malacothamnus fasciculatus

Manzanita Arctostphylus densiflora "Harmony"
Matilija Poppy Romneya Coulteri
Sagebrush Artemisia californica "Canyon Grey"
Sagebrush (taller) Artemisia californica

Need Professional Help?

Attend a meeting of the Garden Committee or Contact the BVAS Garden Crew for recommendations and advice.

Interested in Volunteering?

Volunteers are the heart of BVAS and are what makes our nature center and programs so meaningful and loved in the community! Popular volunteer positions include: hosting at the nature center, teaching elementary school groups about nature, and helping plan special events. The list goes on, with unlimited possibilities, so contact us today to get involved!

Our Mission

To protect and preserve our region's birds, biodiversity, and threatened habitats, and to promote conservation of our natural resources through advocacy, education, and both habitat restoration and management.

Mailing Address

Buena Vista Audubon
PO Box 480
Oceanside, CA 92049

Nature Center

2202 S. Coast Highway
Oceanside, CA 92054



Tuesday 10 am-1 pm
Wednesday 10 am-1 pm
Thursday 10 am-1 pm
Friday 10 am-1 pm
Saturday 10 am-1 pm

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