Drew Becher is walking around his sun-dappled two-acre Chestnut Hill property. He’s wearing a crisp blue shirt with epaulets, a colorful striped belt, khakis, and laceless white Converse All-Stars. Two small fountains—one on either side of two adjacent back patios—gurgle in a babbling-brook sort of way, masking the hum of traffic on nearby Germantown Avenue and making the scene feel more English countryside than middle-of-the-city.
“I love boxwoods,” Becher says, pointing to an impeccably groomed hedge in the backyard. Then he notices the maple. “Oh, Japanese maple, with a dash of red. One of my favorite plants.” A few steps later: “Lavender, that’s my favorite. I love the way it smells, the way it looks.” But then he sees the hydrangea: “White hydrangea. That’s my total favorite.”
When you’re Drew Becher, president of the renowned Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and a self-proclaimed “nursery shopaholic,” it’s difficult to choose just one favorite plant—especially when there are so many to choose from. The same can be said of the houses he’s lived in. There was the converted funeral home, the suburban cottage, the glass-walled Chicago penthouse, the Victorian rowhome in D.C., and now the stately 1926 English Tudor where he lives with his partner, Eric Lochner, CEO of a Wayne-based human capital management firm.
At first, the sprawling half-timbered stucco-and-fieldstone home was a country house for the globe-trotting couple; almost immediately after they made settlement, Lochner was transferred to London, and Becher was summoned to New York by Bette Midler to head the New York Restoration Project. Now, after four years, a thorough interior renovation of the house and a total landscape overhaul of the property, the couple has at last planted firm roots. Meanwhile, Becher has been busy transforming Philadelphia into a world-class horticulture destination, starting with the Flower Show, which flourished in splendid tropical fashion last month. But he’s already on to the next project.
“I told Eric over dinner that I really want to inject purple into our plantings this year,” he says thoughtfully. Like all matters of design, introducing a new color into the landscape isn’t a decision he takes lightly. He laughs. “It’s a big day at the Becher-Lochner household.”