Botanic garden to host ‘Trees: Amenity or Necessity’ program

Joseph “Jay” Townsend will present “Trees: Amenity or Necessity in the 21st Century?” on Saturday, June 14, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Lewes Public Library, hosted by the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek.

“Sprawling subdivisions, planned urban development, skyscrapers, interstates, corporate agriculture — do we really need trees in this brave new world? The discipline that considers this question is urban forestry.

“Researchers have calculated the physical contributions trees make to our wellbeing in urban environments. Each contribution has a monetary value. It turns out that trees contribute many times their installation and maintenance costs in physical benefits.

“Other researchers are studying the psychological benefits trees provide. These are more difficult to monetize but have an equal or greater impact on our lives. Not all trees are equal in their contribution to the urban environment.”

Tree contributions, tree species and tree shape will be discussed at the June 14 event. Entrance to the lecture is free to DBG members and $15 for non-members.

Townsend grew up in Wawa, Pa. He attended Kenyon College in Ohio. After graduation, he drifted out to the West Coast and went to work as a tree climber. The Davey Tree Expert Company sent him to Hawaii for two years and then moved him into management in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Townsend was accepted into the University of Delaware’s Longwood Program in public horticulture in 1979. He returned to the Davey Company upon completion of his graduate work and opened the Brandywine office for the company, which he managed for 25 years. Taking advantage of early retirement, he returned to UD to pursue a doctoral degree researching the psychological impact of tree canopy on city dwellers. He hopes to graduate in the fall of 2014.

The June 14 presentation is one of a series sponsored by the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek, whose mission is to create a world-class, inspirational, educational and sustainable public botanic garden in Southern Delaware for the benefit and enjoyment of the public. For more information, visit the website at