A breath of fresh awe
Each spring, the University of Michigan Peony Garden on the Ann Arbor campus bursts into a stunning array of dazzling blooms. The blossoms’ brief appearance in Nichols Arboretum is an annual reminder to celebrate nature’s fleeting gifts with awe in your heart. (Images by Deb Holdship; text by Joseph Mooney.)
Following a pandemic year in which visitors were asked to stay away, the nearly century-old peony garden in the University of Michigan’s Nichols Arboretum welcomed them back with a banner bloom year in spring 2021.
99 years young
The garden, begun in 1922 with a gift of peony plants from U-M alumnus W.E. Upjohn, celebrated its 99th year of bloom from about Memorial Day through mid-June.
Recent plantings of tree peonies bloom earlier than the herbaceous varieties, extending the blooming season another two to three weeks. A multiyear renovation effort is nearly complete as the peony garden readies for its centennial celebration in 2022
The garden’s nearly 800 plants produce up to 10,000 flowers at peak bloom. It’s believed to be the largest collection of heirloom herbaceous peonies in North America.