Temple University – Ambler Wetland Garden


The wetland garden’s origins began at the 1997 Philadelphia Flower show as the Ambler exhibit called “Green Machine,” which demonstrated native plants’ natural ability to cleanse fouled water.This award-winning exhibit was salvaged from the show and was installed on campus by students in 1998 as the newest addition to the Landscape Arboretum of Temple University Ambler. Swales and gutters were constructed to guide stormwater run-off from nearby buildings into the wetland garden.

Five different topographic zones with different moisture levels are represented in the conception of the wetland. Plant varieties were picked by their adaptability to these topographic conditions, for their aesthetic value and for their benefits to local wildlife. For a plant list click here. A solar pergola was used to create the impression of enclosure within the wetland. Photo-voltaic panels frame the pergola and power a pump that circulates fountain water through an aerial aqueduct. Recycled glass, called cullet, is used as exposed paving.

The benefit of this wetland garden can be summarized in ecological, hydrologic, and aesthetic terms. Rose Creek used to take the brunt of the area’s stormwater runoff, which caused erosion on its streambeds and sedimentation. The installation of a wetland garden has downgraded the hazards of flooding. Run-off from surrounding impervious surfaces normally would bombarding the shallow creek beds with insupportable stormwater velocity. This wetland garden collects rainwater from 5 surrounding acres and recharges the local hydrologic system. Native plants in the garden have extensive root systems that absorb more water than traditional sod. Water quality is also improved since the plants have the natural ability to filter pollutants before replenishing local water tables.

The site where the wetland garden now stands was previously not more than a mud puddle. More than 300 plant varieties now serve as habitat for animal life and insects, while it provides a beautiful and quiet site of repose for students. Students benefit also from ongoing research on the site, where they study the ability of plants to break down pollutants, plant species survival rates, water quality and erosion amelioration in connection with Rose Creek, and other ecological variables. The wetland garden will be the focus of academic study for years to come.


County: Montgomery
Watershed: Wissahickon Creek

Temple Ambler is located at 580 Meetinghouse Road in the borough of Ambler, a suburb of Philadelphia. The Ambler campus is home to Temple’s Horticulture, Community and Regional Planning, and Landscape Architecture departments.

The wetland garden is located down a flight of stairs from the plaza between Widener Hall and Cottage Hall. Within the lush verdure emerges a small courtyard where visitors can sit and listen to the sound of the birds and rushing water from a sculpture fountain.

Rose Creek, a tributary to Wissahickon Creek, flows through the landscape of the Ambler Campus.


Temple University Ambler 
The Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture
S. Edgar David & Associates (landscape architect)




Temple University
Landscape Architecture and Horticulture Department

Leave a Reply