Bird-Friendly Virtual Garden Tour 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to have an in-person Garden Tour this year. Instead, we opted to go virtual, and allow our visitors to see the beautiful bird-friendly gardens from the safety of their own homes.

Here is an introduction to the tour.

Click on the name of a garden below to see a description, photos and videos of the space.

Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren

This is the Bewick’s Wren Garden of Oak Park, a little micro climate on the border of LA County and Ventura County. The garden was created with the help of a grant from the Conejo Valley Audubon Society.   The layout and design was a combined effort with myself and my husband.  I had always wanted a dry riverbed in my front yard since the property is has this great elongated yard.  The idea of turning the yard into a native habitat grew out of my passion for the wild birds we have here starting in 2016.

The anchor plants are the Yankee point Ceanothus,and Toyon, but I have other favorites as well.  Living where I do has led to some challenges, some CA natives that require full sun or part can be tricky, our little valley of weather can fool you, it freezes here, and it gets so hot some of these full sun plants throw in the towel.  You just never know how a plants going to do until you try.

The majority of the plants were acquired from either Theodore Payne,the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens and a few from Matilija Nursery.  All of the bird feeders and other bird related items were purchased from Wild Birds Unlimited in Thousand Oaks.

I hope you enjoy my garden as much as I do, and it inspires you to get you hands dirty and create your own living canvas.

Thank you for visiting today,

Beth Ann McCoy-Gee

Great Egret
Great Egret

The front and back yard of this well-manicured equestrian residence is a mix of natives and waterwise non-natives.  The front lawn was removed and renovated in 2015 and the back-yard conversion was “officially” started in 2011.  The adjacent open space area provides a constant variety of avian activity both in and outside of the back yard.  The water features in the front and back yards are constantly used by everything from hawks to hummingbirds.  Some of our avian friends who visit the garden regularly include Allen’s and Anna’s Hummingbirds, Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, Cooper’s Hawks, Lesser Goldfinches, Robins, White-Crowned Sparrows, and of course ~ Egrets!  

Trisha Munro was instrumental in designing and creating the landscape for both the front and back yard of this property.

We hope you enjoy your tour!

Jennifer and Frank de la Torre

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

I was inspired so much by last year’s garden tour that in early May (2019) I decided it was time to redo our backyard.  I’ve been contemplating replacing the 20+ year old lawn with native plants and decided this was the time to do it.  The first priority was getting rid of the Bermuda and Kikuyu lawn.  Over the summer the hardscape was completed (paver patio, gazebo, irrigation, setting of boulders).  The majority of the planting took place in late October/early November, after which the shredded redwood mulch was applied.  All the plants were from one-gallon containers.  In the months that followed some plants have been added, others relocated, and additional plants added to the bank at the back of the property, along with at water feature.  The design of the garden was done by the homeowner, as was most of the labor.

The reason I picked Great Blue Heron as the garden’s name for the tour is that we get visited by one every few months.  Our next-door neighbor has a pond and the GBH occasionally comes around looking for a meal.  In addition, I have a statue of one in the garden.

The yard received NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat recognition in February 2020.

I was really looking forward to being included in this year’s tour and sharing my successes (and failures) of the past year with visitors in person.  This virtual tour will have to suffice for this year, and I look forward to seeing everyone next year.  If you have questions, I can be reached at

David Person

View a video of this garden.

Hermit Thrush
Hermit Thrush

This yard has been an ongoing project for 40 years. We planted natives which we saw and loved while hiking.  Both the from and back yards have California natives, bulbs and grasses as well as other drought tolerant plants.  It is not a manicured yard and provides habitat for insects and butterflies, and reptiles as well as birds.  A favorite bird is the hermit thrush, whose beautiful song was heard in the Sierra Nevadas in the summer.  It resides here in the winter and loves the toyon berries.  It was a joy to see two bathing in the pond two weeks ago.

Mary Ann Campbell

Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher

818 Calle Pecos in Thousand Oaks is near the Lynn Ranch Pond, so I called it “The Kingfisher” because they do fly over calling.

I converted our nearly one acre to Natives in 2003 (always a work in progress).  Unfortunately, I did not have a plan, I just wanted bird friendly plants. I know now that large plants should not be planted within 5 feet of the house for fire safety.  (Am taking out large Toyons)  The birds and squirrels have assisted by planting 26 oak trees (some not quite in the right place), as well as many Toyons.  I have many species of sage – Purple, Black, White, Bee’s Bliss, Mrs Beards, Lemonii, Spathacea, Arrow   The butterflies and Goldfinches are especially happy about this.

Near my bird feeding area, the Hummingbird Sage, Salvia Lemonii, Island Snapdragon and Chuperosa all feed the hummers with my having to clean a feeder!  I have California Quail and a pair of California Thrashers living under the Chuperosa.  I have found that St Catherine’s Lace and California Fuschia spread more than I would like, and Mahonia Repens less; hard to predict.  The big hole in the front of the yard is where a huge Indian Hawthorne used to live; I planted a Howard McMinn  and a John Dourley Manzanitas; also a Fairy Duster, Caliandra, two monkeyflowers and a Salvia Lemonii that I produced from a slip.

If you patrol once a week, you can keep out the weeds as they poke through. 

Dee Lyon, Conservation Chair for CVAS

Lincoln's Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow

Front has a mix of about 20 local native species and a Palo Verde tree. Backyard has about 60 species of native trees, shrubs, grasses, and annual flowers in a chaparral upland and meadow mosaic, with a sand pathway “creek bed” flowing through and terminating at a “blessing bowl” water feature. About 50 species of birds have been identified using the garden. Children are welcome. There are also spots in the yard that haven’t been completed yet, so a visitor will get a chance to see the final “makeover” in subsequent years.

Oak Titmouse
Oak Titmouse

My yard is not a project, but a process.  It was initially started with a CVAS grant in honor of Tom Halpin in 2014.   CVAS members helped to purchase and install plants.   The design is wild.  Over the years the plants have reproduced and reseeded themselves.  The yard is now prolific and rather than adding plants, my gardening efforts involve removing plants!  The yard is divided into three sections – a meadow area with native grasses and wildflowers, a Chaparral area and a hummingbird section.  The yard includes an infiltration garden where the roof drainage is diverted back into the ground to create a storm-water management system.

California Thrasher
California Thrasher

This year the Conejo Valley Audubon Bird Friendly Garden Tour has gone digital. Our garden will start with a short video and several panorama “stills” and close up stills. Most of the “anchor” plants feed hummingbirds and many these plants do double duty feeding butterflies and various types of bees. I’m defining “anchor” plants as those that are used frequently not just a few here or there- here they are with both botanical and common names.

Ah, how long did the garden take to finish? Anyone that gardens as a hobby knows a garden is never finished.  My garden has gone through 3 major renditions over the 20 odd years we’ve lived here. Plants do wear out, get ratty and it’s more fun to replace something that’s ratty that completely new and different. Once you start with “the new and different” the rest of it all has to go. I also like to try things in my garden that we grow at the nursery or at least that’s my excuse…