Five years ago, a strip of land along Campodonico Avenue on the western edge of Guadalupe was vacant and overgrown with weeds.

The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, with help from volunteers like Judith Evans, transformed the small area into a garden for native flora.

Evans' parents live next door to the Guadalupe Native Garden. She said that the walking path through the space was overgrown, leading people to bypass it and walk on the street.

"We used to love to visit the Nipomo Native Garden," she said. "I was here at my parents' house one day and I thought 'why can't we have something like this here?'"

Evans was one of about a dozen volunteers who came to the garden Saturday for the Guadalupe Native Garden Beautification Day. Volunteers pulled weeds, picked up trash and pruned greenery.

Dunes Center Educational Programs Coordinator William Meyst said that the beautification day was a way to let people know about the garden while cleaning it up and preparing for more planting. It was the first time the Dunes Center has organized an effort to clean up the garden.

"This is kind of our effort to get back out there," he said.

Meyst also used the opportunity to educate volunteers on the garden's plant life.

"These are all native plants, a lot of these grow out there in the dune complex," he said.

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The largest plant in the garden is an Arroyo Willow tree, a species that lines the nearby Santa Maria Riverbed.

Meyst said that one purpose of the garden is to provide education to the community on environmental stewardship.

The volunteers included five juveniles on probation.

"It's a good way to open their eyes to what's going on in the community," Probation Officer Bradley Tim said.

Evans donates new plants to the garden each year. Because all of the plants are native to California, they have done well in the dry years.

"There's always something in bloom," she said.

Evans said that the drought led to higher interest in native landscaping, and she hopes more people get involved with similar projects.

"We were not native plant experts when we did this," she said. "And I think that shows people, 'why not?'"