Arb Peony Garden

Visiting the UM Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden

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This year the Peony Garden at UM’s Nichols Arboretum celebrates its 100th anniversary. Visiting the Peony Garden at Nichols Arboretum was on my to-do list for several years. I finally visited with a friend in 2019. We made several visits in 2021 and look forward to returning this year.


Peak Bloom Season

As of June 2, the garden is at 60% bloom with peak bloom estimated for the weekend of June 3-5. They will have a FREE shuttle service available (details below under parking).

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. The original collection was donated in 1922, so this is the 100th anniversary.

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

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.

Arb Peony Garden - Magenta with Buds

The Arboretum’s Facebook page is one of the best places to find updates on the blooms.As of June 2, they are at 60% bloom and estimate peak bloom this weekend – June 3-5.

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

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. Walking from the M29 lot will include a steep ascent. Be careful as some lots in this area are Blue lots 24/7.

For 2022, there will be a FREE shuttle offered on the weekend of June 4 & 5. The shuttle will run from the Mitchell Field lot M75 every 10 minutes from 9a-6p on Saturday and Sunday.


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

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