2021 is the Year of Water at Awbury!


In recognition of our pond and wetlands renovation, we have declared 2021 the Year of Water at Awbury Arboretum. 

Water is fundamental to existence, from providing drinking water to a city of over 1.5 million people to supporting the growth of an oak tree from a seed. It is without doubt a life-sustaining, precious resource.


If you have visited Awbury’s watercourse area, which is located on both sides of  Washington Avenue, you will know that it is one of the Arboretum’s ecological highlights. It includes a stream that is the last remaining above-ground portion of the Wingohocking Creek in Philadelphia.  In 1919, the Cope Family hired landscape architect Arthur Cowell to design two ponds and a bog, and today the watercourse includes a healthy stream, a Spring House, walking paths, picnic tables, two ponds and charming stone walls and bridges to cross the stream.

The completion of this much-awaited renovation is certainly cause for celebration. The area had been in a state of disrepair for many years, and we are now hopeful that our ponds will once again host turtles, frogs, waterfowl, fish, and innumerable aquatic invertebrates as they have in the past.  With the removal of invasive plants and the planting of natives, our riparian buffer can again support the health of our watercourse.

Related resources and articles:

❦ Video: History of the Awbury Arboretum pond & watercourse, narrated by George McNeely

Chestnut Hill Local article: “Reviving the only extant run of the Wingohocking Creek at Awbury Arboretum” by George McNeely

❦ Leaflet article: “Wetlands Restoration is an Environmental Success Story” by Chris van de Velde

Please check our weekly eblast and events page for other activities and events throughout the year. 

,Year of Water Events:

❦ 2nd Saturdays & 4th Sundays*, Apr-Oct: Family Programming in the Wetlands

Awbury Arboretum has partnered with Let’s Go Outdoors (LGO) to provide twice-monthly hands-on family programming in Awbury’s Wetlands area. LGO is a wonderful organization whose mission is to increase people of color’s participation in outdoor recreation by offering community education and family engagement opportunities. These programs offer families the opportunity to explore nature and specifically the wetlands area through geo-caching, guided hikes and creative, hands-on activities. 

*see event page for list of dates.

Click here for more information about Family Field Studies in the Wetlands, with Let’s Go Outdoors.

❦  Streamkeepers

Awbury’s new Streamkeepers monthly group monitors the water temperature of the Wingohocking Creek and reports this data to the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership. Our data, and that from 24 additional sites, is used to measure the impact of stream restoration projects. Our plan is to expand the role of the Streamkeepers at Awbury to include monitoring of the ponds and wetlands area, offering landscape support as needed, and providing community education.

Awbury al Fresco, May 23, 2021

Picnic meal and presentation, including tours of the pond restoration – We honored Julie Slavet in recognition of her passion, energy, and effectiveness in connecting Philadelphians with our natural environment, particularly our watersheds.  She has led the TTF Watershed Partnership team in exceptionally creative and compelling educational initiatives and changed the way countless people care for our waterways.

Sunday Fun Day partnerships and special guests!

6/27 – Enviroscape 3D water ecology demonstrations with Let’s Go Outdoors

8/15 & 9/12 –  “Wingo-WHAT?” Poetry & Water Workshops with Trapeta B. Mayson and the Philadelphia Water Department

8/15 – Fun with the TTF Watershed Partnership Creekmobile and educational games

8/15 & 10/17 – Waterway Stewardship lessons with the Penn State Extension Master Watershed Stewardship Program

10/3 – Delaware River Festival participating site

Past years:

2020 – the Year of Citizen Science

2019 – the Year of Natural Fibers

Corresponding article series: Awbury’s 2019 Series on Natural Fibers

2018 the Year of the Pollinator

Corresponding article series: Pollinators– from wasps to wind

2016 – Awbury Arboretum’s Centennial

Corresponding article series: The Country in the City: Natural History in Northwest Philadelphia