Stoneleigh, A Natural Garden

Stepping stone towards neighborhood conservation

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Stoneleigh bunnies, representing the five Haas family children

Stoneleigh is a property with conservation importance in Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, adjacent to the north edge of Villanova’s campus.  

Our project for our Capstone course (Bio 5300, F18) focused on Stoneleigh because of its value to the community. The property is a protected public garden that provides a natural space in an urban area as a manipulated landscape. The purpose of this report is to inform you, the Villanova community, of what Stoneleigh is and why protecting and preserving an area like it is important to this region … aesthetically, recreationally, and environmentally.  

Final project report (PDF format)

Our goal was to summarize information about the biodiversity of the property, with focus on plants, mammals, and birds. We aimed to address how the biodiversity is important to the surrounding area as it relates to regional diversity as part of a network of natural areas. We address the Villanova community with the intention of spreading and raising awareness of the property, with the hope that more Villanovans can use the space and its resources for enjoyment and academic growth.  

We reach out to you, Villanova, to visit and support natural areas that preserve green spaces and organismal diversity for the health of all constituents.

We encourage students, faculty, staff, alumni, and Villanova’s neighbors to consider ways in which the Stoneleigh property can benefit you directly, regardless of your major, occupation, or intentions. Our report is for you learn about and take advantage of a property so close to campus that can aid in academic advancement and the overall ecological health of the area. We hope you all can read this report and support conservancies who aim to educate in the maintenance and care of organisms that are vital to our well-being and our futures. 

In terms of biodiversity on the property, we found that there are many species that take advantage of Stoneleigh, making it an asset for preserving green spaces. The use of the property as a stopover site or permanent residence in a region with limited green space is important for organisms that still reside locally. The property helps conserve those species, while helping to educate the human community about the importance of neighborhood conservation of all organisms. 

Stoneleigh as a part of Natural Lands Trust is a showcase for blending the aesthetic beauty of designed gardens with the natural richness of native habitats that are essential to the health of the planet. In this report we have outlined the importance of an area like it to this region in terms of plant, mammal and bird diversity. We recognize that the ability for a property like Stoneleigh to support life makes it an asset to conservation efforts in the region.  

~ Takiyah Bethea, Christopher Chong, Ashley Knight, and Jeanarsy Peña (Biology majors, CLAS’19)