During the last 32 years, I’ve seen it from every angle. During beach and bluff walks. On the train. From the surf. It became our lineup point during big south swells in summertime. It was a beacon signifying home. 

This was the Hesperocyparis macrocarpa—Monterey Cypress—on Penny Lane on the Southwest corner of the former Sturgis property in Del Mar. And it felt like my tree, having photographed it so many times over years. It had this elegant sculptural presence. This summer, it died of natural causes. RIP, old friend. 

As someone who has owned seven homes in Olde Del Mar, and walked its hills and secret paths too, I have become fluent in the topography. The sage brush. The Morton Bay Fig Trees. The eucalyptus. Monterey Cypress is a treasure often overlooked. After all, we live in Torrey Pines territory. 

You see, the Monterey Cypress tells the story of a sacred landscape, of coastal wonder. Before houses existed, this weathered old trunk and branches confronted the wind. The fog at gray light. On so many mornings, I’ve witnessed its shape softening into the Pacific haze. And then striking through blistering sunlight. Its silhouette was a recognizable landmark, especially when surfing Little Velzy—the Del Mar break named by iconic shaper Bill Minard.  


In locations around the world, however, the Monterey Cypress has come to be naturalized, memorialized and abundant. They are an indelible presence on the rugged coastal landscapes of New Zealand’s farmsteads. Over on Australia’s Avenue of Honour, each tree was planted to symbolize a person. And throughout the UK, they have become part of the botanical vocabulary. It’s thanks to German botanist Karl Theodor Hartweg, who plucked Cypress samples from Point Lobos in the mid-19th century and planted them at Royal Botanic Gardens in London.

The Monterey Cypress is a remarkable relic of California’s geologic past. This truly indigenous tree first proliferated along the California coastline where distinguished botanist and UC Berkeley professor Dr. Willis Jepson was equally enamored, describing the species as a “singular beauty.” In San Diego, Mission padres planted them as windbreaks. 

Present day in California, there remains a couple of ancient groves spanning a two-mile radius on Point Lobos in Monterey. And of course, there is The Sea Ranch Lodge, a recently restored modernist utopia on the Sonoma Coast. 



Last year, I had the privilege of representing the Sturgis family in the sale of their Del Mar Bluff top property, which was originally acquired in the 1940s. The tradition continues as another wonderful Del Mar family purchased the legacy property. 

Fortunately, several other juvenile Monterey Cypress trees have been planted in our community over the last five years—some by the city in our public spaces and others by private residences. 

Collectively, they root the next generation to this unique landscape we call home.

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Representation for buyers and sellers of premier properties, with a special focus on homes in coastal North San Diego County – stretching from La Jolla to Carlsbad and from Rancho Santa Fe to Del Mar. Proudly representing distinctive properties in North County, Rande Turner was the top-selling real estate agent in Del Mar in 2017.