Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope has appointed Peter Couchman as its new executive director.
Couchman will begin leading the 134-acre preserve – the nation’s only museum-accredited native plant collection – on Monday, June 29.
Prior to joining BHWP, Peter served for seven years as the first executive director of High Glen Gardens in Frederick, Md., following two years as its head gardener. The 64-acre private estate is in the process of being transitioned to a public garden.
“Peter Couchman is a proven leader and fundraiser for dynamic organizations in transition,” said Judy Eby, chair of the preserve’s board of trustees. “He really embraces the preserve’s mission regarding the importance of native plants.”
“I’m thrilled to be able to combine my organizational leadership with my passion for public horticulture, conservation and ecology at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve,” said Couchman. “I look forward to stewarding its accredited native plant collection as a national resource for education and ecological preservation.”
One of Couchman’s goals is to strengthen the preserve’s ties to other local nonprofits. “I want to look closely at forming partnerships that will not only benefit the preserve but other organizations in the community as well,” he said. “The COVID-19 pandemic shows us that we are stronger when we work together.”
He brings this perspective from having served as the director of community benefit projects for the Ausherman Family Foundation of Frederick, where he identified and addressed community needs through community-building and philanthropic project management.
Besides managing High Glen’s 10 acres of formal gardens, Couchman also oversaw the restoration of its eight-acre wetland and upland meadow, as well as a large woodland reforestation project. He has lectured at the New York Botanical Garden, Longwood Gardens, the U.S. Botanic Garden, American University and the American Public Gardens Association’s national conference.
While still a teenager, Couchman began a career as a professional opera singer. Eventually, the baritone made solo appearances at New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall and Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral. Ever since he grew vegetables and flowers with his family at their Gettysburg home, however, Couchman has had a fervor for horticulture. While singing, he simultaneously earned a Bachelor of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Science from Tufts University. He also earned a Master of Music from the University of Cincinnati.
Yet he felt unfulfilled. “I was good at opera, but I eventually realized I just wasn’t passionate about it,” he explained. “When I asked myself, ‘What am I passionate about?,’ I kept coming back to plants and the environment.” So, he launched his current career by earning a diploma from the School of Professional Horticulture of the New York Botanical Garden in New York City.
Couchman and his husband, Phillip Barton, a psychotherapist, are in the process of moving to the Bucks County area.