Peony Garden at the Arb - Photo of pink and white peonies at University of Michigan's Nichols Aboretum

Peony Paradise: Exploring Peony Garden at Nichols Arboretum

Visiting the Peony Garden at University of Michigan’s Nichols Arboretum has been an Ann Arbor spring tradition for nearly 100 years. The Arb Peony Garden was on my to-do list for several years before finally visiting in 2019. We’ve visited a few more times since then.

Peak Bloom Season

May 13 – Peak bloom is predicted for Memorial Day Weekend.

Peony Watch 2024: The W.E. Upjohn Peony Garden is on the brink of bloom season, with most of our herbaceous peonies…

Posted by Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum on Monday, May 13, 2024

April 30: The first Peony flower has arrived! You can find it in bed 23. Most peonies are still growing and not budding yet. Tree peonies also have only one tree blooming.

It's official – we have our first herbaceous peony flower for 2024! Welcome, Paeonia tenuifolia, also known as the '…

Posted by Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum on Tuesday, April 30, 2024

As of April 25, they said they are on target for a late May mass blooming

Peak bloom for peonies in Ann Arbor is typically late May (near Memorial Day) to early June. We will keep watching for updates on the 2024 peony blooms.

About the Peony Garden

The Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden first opened in 1927 with the collection donated in 1922. The garden can hold up to 800 peonies resulting in 10,000 blooms.

It is the largest public collection of heritage peonies in North America. The garden features 350 varieties of historic herbaceous peonies from the US, Canada, and Europe. Many of these varieties 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

Events from our Sponsors

Nichols Arboretum Big Play Day June 23

Big Play Day

Mark you calendars for June 23!

AFC Ann Arbor Women's Team takes the field

AFC Ann Arbor (Women’s) Final Home Game vs Detroit City FC

AFC Ann Arbor Women's Season May 19-June 30

My Visit to Ann Arbor Peony Garden at Nichols Arboretum

Over the weekend I saw many pictures from friends visiting the Peony Garden Ann Arbor. My friend and I visited during the school day allowing us to avoid the worst of the crowds. Even with lower crowds, 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.

My daughter opted out of visiting in 2019 due to her seasonal allergies. She did brave the garden in 2021 and 2022 – after taking her allergy medicine.

The peony garden is a good place to take children. There is room for them to explore and roam. Let them search for their favorite color peony. Just make sure they stay on the paths and don’t touch the flowers.

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 W.E. Upjohn 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 peony garden. I’m just lucky to have picked the right entrance on our first visit.

Arb Peony Garden - Yellow Peonies

Peony 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 – I visited on June 12th and it was blooming nicely. The 2024 Season seems to be on track for a late May peak.

Arb Peony Garden - Magenta with Buds

The Arb also has tree peonies which bloom before the herbaceous peonies.

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum Facebook page is one of the best places to find updates on the blooms.

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 on our first visit.

Arb Peony Garden - Blush Pink Peony

The UM Parking Maps for North/Medical Campus include lots around the Arb. From these maps, I found a few convenience parking lots.

  • M28 at the School of Public Health – 1500 Washington Heights – Blue lot – enforced Monday-Friday from 6a-5p.
  • The M29 blue lot below the helipad is also available in evenings and on weekends. Walking from the M29 lot will include a steep ascent to the peony garden.

Be sure to verify the enforcement details on the signs in the lot before parking in evenings and weekends. Some of the nearby lots are Blue lots enforced 24/7

For 2022, there was a offered on the weekend of June 4 & 5. The shuttle ran from the Mitchell Field lot M75 every 10 minutes from 9a-6p on Saturday and Sunday. We will watch for any updates on a shuttle for peak weekends in 2024.

Other Entrances

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

Construction at Fuller and East Medical Center Dr will make the Geddes Road entrance a good option.

Arb Peony Garden - White Peonies

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