Friday, August 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Tree hugger

Yeah, Denis Lucey is a tree hugger and he gets paid to do it. He's the new parttime landscape manager at Awbury Arboretum in Germantown. A former physician, he chucked all that for his one true love - gardening. He has a garden design business and clearly has found his calling.

Tree hugger

Yeah, Denis Lucey is a tree hugger and he gets paid to do it. He's the new parttime landscape manager at Awbury Arboretum in Germantown. A former physician, he chucked all that for his one true love - gardening. He has a garden design business and clearly has found his calling.

Spent some time over at Awbury yesterday. The crocuses, snowdrops and winter aconite are up and blooming, and we had a fine walk through the meadow and grounds of this underappreciated place.  I wish the new general manager, Chris van de Velde, and his team, which includes Denis and the new outreach person, Beth Miner, well. They have a tough assignment ahead of them - finding new funding sources when traditional ones have dried or tightened up.

The tree that Denis is hugging is a state champion river birch down the pond, one of hundreds of trees in the 55-acre arboretum, which is in serious need of regular maintenance. There are plans for all sorts of initiatives that involve new partnerships with schools, neighborhood groups, community centers and other organizations.

Chris, who has decades of experience in promoting economic development, forming public-private ventures, running entities as diverse as Whitemarsh Township and PGW, and advising governments and nonprofits, is also charging up a new landscape committee, the arboretum's defunct firewood business, and sprucing up the downstairs of the Francis Cope House - and repairing the porch - so weddings and events can be held there again.

The to-do list is long here. We've heard it before. This effort may indeed, finally, be the one that works. Wish these folks well.

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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