Awbury Arboretum’s unlikely stewards let nature—and discovery—run wild
Philadelphians are familiar with the sounds of city life: the laughter of kids walking home from school, bus engines and car horns on the busy streets, music flowing from rowhome windows. Amid the bustle in Germantown, a forest is quietly growing. The people entrusted with the 55-acre refuge at Awbury Arboretum believe that it’s a place to escape the hardscape, wonder at nature’s resilience and power, and maybe to fall in love.
Between a trickling creek bed on the grounds of Awbury Arboretum in Northwest Philadelphia and the abrasive honking of East Washington Lane, Denis Lucey is out on one of his many walks.
He stops to point out a mutated form of a snow drop flower and invites me to have a gnaw on a native spice bush. “It’s got an interesting flavor,” he encourages. “If you’ve ever been operated on, the orange dye they spray you with before they put the bandages on is a glue that originally comes from this plant.”