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Tyler Arboretum’s Cricket Brien Dishes on her Favorite Things

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Elizabeth “Cricket” Brien, Swarthmore

Executive Director, Tyler Arboretum

To say that Cricket Brien has a green thumb is an understatement. She’s a green goddess. From family trips and grocery shopping to her pet chicken and even her nickname, Brien incorporates the outdoors into her life as much as possible. For those reasons and others, Tyler Arboretum was put into her care. In May, she became executive director of the largest privately held green space in Delaware County.

How she describes the garden at her Swarthmore home: It’s a work in process. We’ve lived there for more than nine years, and I’m always experimenting by uprooting some things and planting other things. It’s my workshop—or, at least, part of it is. My husband, Rex, is in charge of the vegetable garden. He’s also in charge of stopping me when I start a garden project that’s too ambitious for me to ever finish. 

from left: Swarthmore Co-op, Tyler Arboretum trails

Swarthmore’s bestkept secret: Swarthmore Co-Op has very fresh, locally grown products—and more than that, it’s a real community center. When I go, I run into my neighbors, and we spend time catching up with one another. I’ve come to treasure that as much as the food. 

Favorite place for date night: We do low-key and local at a place that has great beer. Or, we bring it with us to Shere-E-Punjab, Azie or one of the other fabulous BYOBs in the area. 

Favorite special event in the region: My mother-in-law is a banjo-playing West Virginian, and when she performs with her group at places in the area, we tag along and listen. We also love plant sales.

Where you exercise: We love to hike, and for many years, we’ve explored the 17 miles of trails at Tyler. We go on trips to New England and the American West and hike there. We also toil mightily in our garden, although it doesn’t always look as though we do. That’s exercise for me. 

from left: canoeing on the Brandywine, 476 traffic

Favorite thing to do with the kids: When they were young, we constantly took them to Tyler. Now, one of our favorite things to do is canoe on the Brandywine. Our kids bring their friends, and we get a bunch of canoes and do it as a group. It’s great fun. 

Best chance of getting stuck in traffic: 476 in any direction on any evening of the week.

The most unique thing about living in our area: The Swarthmore Horticultural Society builds and maintains gardens in the downtown area. It’s wonderful to be part of a community of generous people who love plants and value how they enrich our lives. 

And about that pet chicken: Her name is Wanda, and she’s wonderful. Visit www.tylerarboretum.org