Peony Garden – Wednesday Activity Review

Visiting the Peony Garden at Nichols Arboretum has been on my to-do list for several years. My daughter suffers from spring allergies so has never wanted to visit. I was set to go a couple of weeks ago while she was on a field trip, but the peonies were not yet in bloom. A friend and I visited this afternoon.

Arb Peony Garden

About the Peony Garden

The Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden first opened in 1927. The garden can hold up to 800 peonies resulting in 10,000 blooms.


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It is the largest public collection of heritage peonies in North America. There are 350 historic herbaceous varieties from the US, Canada, and Europe many of which are no longer commercially available. These heritage varieties are from the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

Arb Peony Garden - Sign with History

My Visit

Over the weekend I saw many pictures from friends visiting the Peony Garden. By going at during the school day, we were able to avoid the worst of the crowds. Even so, the garden still had plenty of people in it.

Arb Peony Garden - Pink Peonies

We only spent about 30 minutes in the Peony Garden. It was plenty of time for a casual visit. If you have more time, there are picture maps that describe the varieties of peonies. There is also much more to explore in The Arb beyond the Peony Garden.


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My daughter opted out of visiting due to her seasonal allergies. However, the peony garden is a good choice for children. There is room for them to explore and roam. Let them search for their favorite color peony. There is some shade available and there are grassy areas that would be perfect for a picnic lunch or snack. Note, the paths are gravel which may make a stroller difficult.

Visiting the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden

The Peony Garden is near the Washington Heights entrance to Nichols Arboretum (1610 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor). I was expecting a longer walk from the entrance to The Arb. I’m just lucky to have picked the right entrance.

Arb Peony Garden - Yellow Peonies

Bloom Season

The Peony Garden is typically in bloom from late May through mid-June. The wet, cool spring in 2019 delayed the peony season. On June 7, the garden was only at 40% bloom. By June 9 it was at 80%. I visited on the 12th and it was blooming nicely. There were still buds, so there is still time to appreciate the garden in 2019.

Arb Peony Garden - Magenta with Buds

Check the Peony Bloom Countdown for up to date information.

Nichols Arboretum Hours & Admission

Nichols Arboretum is open 7 days a week from sunrise to sunset. Admission to Nichols Arboretum is free.

Parking for Nichols Arboretum

There are a few spots on Washington Heights that are reserved for Nichols Arboretum members. There are also a limited number of metered parking spots on Washington Heights near the School of Public Health. I was able to get one of these spots.

Arb Peony Garden - Blush Pink Peony

There is a Blue UM lot (M28) at the School of Public Health – 1500 Washington Heights. From the website, this lot is enforced Monday-Friday from 6a-5p. Be sure to verify the enforcement details on the signs in the lot before parking in evenings and weekends. The M29 blue lot near the helipad is also available in evenings and on weekends.

Other Entrances

According to the Nichols Arboretum website, the Peony Garden is about a 15 minute walk from the Geddes Road entrance.

Arb Peony Garden - White Peonies

Shakespeare in the Arb

The annual Shakespeare in the Arb production is a great opportunity to visit the Arb and experience the Peony Garden. The 2019 show is Twelfth Night.

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Ann Arbor with Kids is your go-to source for Ann Arbor Family Fun. It got its start in an activity list that I was compiling for the playgroup I ran at our church. When my daughter started preschool, the other moms were thrilled to hear about my list. I decided to take the list public in 2009.

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