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.