Pennsylvania: Ambler Arboretum of Temple University

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580 Meetinghouse Road , Ambler, PA 19002

Dedicated in 2010 and donated by the Colibraro family, the exquisite conifer cultivars in the Colibraro Conifer Garden create a unique teaching garden.

The garden, located in the Greenhouse Education and Research Complex, includes exquisite dwarf conifer cultivars. Adding to the special nature of this collection, the garden is surrounded by full-sized examples of some of the dwarf conifers found within,giving a unique opportunity for visitors and students alike to compare options for uses in various landscape situations.

For over 50 years, Colibraro Landscaping & Nursery, Inc., a family-owned and operated design/build firm located in Horsham,has served Bucks County and Montgomery County.The Colibraro family have been dedicated supporters of the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University for decades.

Update, October 2021, from Kathy Salisbury, Director, Ambler Arboretum of Temple University:

Originally, this report was supposed to be one updating the American Conifer Society on the progress and activities of the Arboretum as it relates to our recently awarded reference garden status.

Quickly, overnight, this changed. On Sept 1, 2021 a confirmed EF2 tornado, spawned by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, tore through the Temple University Ambler Campus, Ambler Field Station and the Ambler Arboretum.

First – the Colibraro Conifer Garden looks nearly untouched. We have the most perfect Eastern Red cedar which was tipped up in the storm and we lost our limber pine (Pinus flexilis) but other than that our reference garden still looks great!

We cannot say the same for other conifers around the campus and the canopy and collection in general. This storm was a devastating loss to the Arboretum. Hundreds of trees are lots. In some places we lost the entire canopy. Our old growth forest, consisting of trees hundreds of years old were reduced to pick up sticks littering the floor. A shadow of their former selves, those trees standing are not only leafless but branchless.

Our conifers suffered. The Arboretum featured dozens of very mature white pines dotted all over the campus, now just a few remain. Towering Norway Spruces and Oriental Spruces shaded walkways and screened views of our high traffic work yards.

Our only two Himalayan Pines, giants in the landscape were snapped in half. Our Pinetum lost some of the Japanese Black Pines as well as White Pines. The Scots Pine still stands tall.

The smaller conifers around the Arboretum fared better, though we did lose a number of various Chamaecyparis specimens.

Our immense Blue Atlas Cedar and graceful weeping Norway Spruce still greet visitors and are there to teach students when the time is right.

This was a sad blow to the Arboretum. Each tree is connected in ways we may never know to the humans that use this campus. The Arboretum is changed forever and though we grieve what was, and the long lives those old trees still had ahead of them, we are optimistic and excited about what can become of these new spaces so full of opportunity.

We are currently still working on clean up and recovery. There was a lot of damage in addition to the plants we lost. But we are seeing the nearing of the end of the response and looking at the beginning of planning what’s next. We certainly know landscaping about climate change and resilience will be at the top of the list.