The buyers were a delightful couple and like any of us, had their dreams about the land they'd purchased. When I asked how they liked the manzanita, they said, "Oh, we cut them all down. They were just weeds." They also cut down a 30-foot high Fremontia at the entrance to the driveway. They didn't know. Perhaps no one had told them about the rarities they'd inherited.
I don't think we can expect the young — often exceedingly busy with their families and their work — or buyers of any age who've never gardened here, whether they're local or from other regions or continents, to understand the nature of the land they will inhabit. They need to be educated about how to sustain and care for its many gifts.
The late Mabel Crittenden, a local author of several guides to the wildflowers and trees of east and west, tended countless wild species in her garden. She gave me a wild penstemon that has exploded into bloom every year for the past decade (unlike the hybrids, which need frequent replacing). After her home was put on the market, I longed for the courage to ask for some of her plants, and wondered how her garden fared after her home was sold; last week, I learned that her entire collection of botanical treasures had been turned into a very large lawn. How local gardeners would have longed for an opportunity to take those rare plants home. Perhaps if agents were to make new homeowners aware of treasures like these, their local garden clubs might have an opportunity to transplant them before a new landscape was installed.
Few properties in this amazing Bay Area are without a tree or plant or other wildlife that needs tending. If, when we listed our homes for sale, we also passed down information about the living species around our homes, then perhaps our hardworking real estate agents would be able to inform their clients. And then, along with the bottle of champagne, their parting gift to a satisfied buyer might be one of Mabel Crittenden's Guides to native California wildflowers and trees.
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