Take a break at the Biopond


Photo Credit: Penn Medicine/Information Services

If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, there is a spot on campus that offers a serene slice of the country right here in West Philadelphia.

Tucked away in a quiet nook off Hamilton Walk, between 36th and 38th streets, the BioPond is a two-acre oasis home to a wide variety of native and non-native plant species, as well as an assortment of small animals.

Although it’s best known as Penn’s BioPond, its official name is the Kaskey Memorial Botanical Garden. Opened as a research pond in 1897, the urban patch of nature underwent a complete restoration in 2000. The makeover was made possible by alumnus Richard Kaskey and his wife, Jeanne.

Visitors to the pond regularly spy koi fish, turtles and mallards frolicking in the water. Blue heron and egrets have also been known to frequent the area. Gardening enthusiasts will find a lush collection of flora at the pond, including hostas, Spotted Dead Nettle, azaleas and daylilies.

The BioPond is a popular destination for students, faculty and staff to read, have a picnic lunch or meditate. On warm days, some faculty hold their classes by the pond and Morris Arboretum staff use the garden to teach a biology class. The Penn Children’s Center often brings its students to check out the foliage and animals in and around the area.

The garden is maintained by a full-time staff, including Gardener Tom McNichols, Greenhouse Technician Vanessa Jerolmack and Manager Tracylea Byford. “In certain times of the year, if you shut out the noise of the helicopters going to the hospital and the motorcycles going by, you have the solace of the country,” Byford says.

The BioPond is open to the public and can be reserved for special occasions.

For a virtual tour, a history of the BioPond or rental information, click here.

Originally published on May 6, 2010