2021 is the Year of Water at Awbury! Did you know our creek starts way up there?

Jamilee Hoffman
Jul 12, 2021


This blog is reposted from Awbury Arboretum. You can read the original post here

We are so proud that Awbury recognized the work of Julie Slavet, our Executive Director, back in May with the Gay Gilpin Johnson Award. We are also honored to to be a long-time partner with Awbury. and to support this year’s Streamkeeper program!


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.

Stay tuned!  Additional family programming is being developed for the fall.

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

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