“There are 25,000 trees in Beverly Hills and only eight percent citywide are ficus, yet their pruning consumes one-third of the department’s annual maintenance budget to maintain, not including the sidewalk repairs.”--Beverly Hills Recreation and Parks Director Steve Miller
One of my favorite houseplants is the ficus tree. It's durable, it's tree-like, and it thrives indoors on routine care. Although, when moved, it loses a goodish number of leaves, it generally rebounds. One marks time by one's ficus, as often a ficus goes from sapling to giant in just the same way that one's own life gains leaves and girth. When one moves across the country, one often leaves behind one's ficus--preferably with a kind neighbor or friend--and starts another. Soon, the new ficus has the size and distinctive character of home.
Beverly Hills remains one of the wealthier suburbs of Los Angeles. It's blessed with a climate that is a cross between the balm of the ocean and the merely Heavenly of the slightly inland. Winter is, at worst, a tang in the air and perhaps a chill evening or two. It is like a giant house in which ficus can thrive.
Rather than being potted plants in Beverly Hills (I almost typed "plotted pants"),
the ficus resides outdoors, growing to heights mid-way between "large ornamental" and "small shade tree". They look magnificent, as one drives the wide ways of Beverly Hills. It's a myth that all of Beverly Hills looks just like Jed Clampitt country.
South of Wilshire, Beverly Hills has rather routine multi-family housing which just fits into the high-end school district, as satirized in a movie a few years back.
I like to think of the way that a ficus is so fitting in a houseplant bucket, and yet a terror in a Beverly Hills sidewalk. So many metaphors work in a similar fashion.
They fit so well in one context, and become so hackneyed in another. Yet the ficus itself is a metaphor--but what it represents is entirely in the mind of the beholder.