The University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
the peony garden
Peony Logo
Visit our website for The Peony Garden to find information on the bloom season
Arb Parking Tip
Free street parking spaces are sometimes available on Oswego St. near the Arb's Geddes Street entrance.
Click here for a map.
Few places on Earth are as beautiful as Michigan on a fine fall day. Stroll through the trails & gardens during the early morning or later afternoon at this special time of year.
Check out the bloom calendar.

displays & natural areas

We must get away from the old conception of a forest as merely a collection of trees, under the shelter of which live certain birds and beasts. Instead, we must look upon it as an organism composed of many elements.
-Sam Graham,1929

The Arb provides unique opportunities to explore cases and concepts in the ongoing interaction of the natural world and humans. As a designed landscape commission begun in 1907, this landscape contains specialty gardens, thematic areas, dispersed collections, culturally significant landscapes, natural areas and active areas of ecosystem restoration research. The 'human hand' is not immediately obvious to many visitors, but evidence of human interaction on the land for the past several millennia can be detected.
Visit the Arboretum and see:

  • featured plants and areas of interest
  • beautiful gardens, collections and landscapes appropriate for our climate and conditions
  • ecologically sound landscape management practices
  • restored areas that may inspire you to engage with ecological restoration work
  • cultural, historic and natural areas that are part of our region's rich heritage

With so much to choose from, you may need more than one visit. The links below highlight only a few of our special places.

This beautiful garden does hard work! Here at the head of School Girls' Glen the severe erosion is stabilized by a series of rain gardens integrated into a demonstration of New American Design by Oehme van Sweden, the originators of this movement... Explore a remnant prairie and savanna ecosystem as well as adjacent oak woods to see Michigan as it was around the time of settlement... Our historically-based shrub collection features old and new plantings that are in harmony with our local environment... Heathdale exhibits the Julie Norris Post Collection of Ericaceous and Appalachian Plants in a secluded cove nestled east and below the Peony Garden... The Main Valley has rightfully been called the "Heart of the Arb"... Trees with improbably big leaves and intensely fragrant flowers define Magnolia Glen... The Oak Openings is special collection begun in 2001 in partnership with the Ann Arbor Chapter of the Wild Ones. The intention is to develop a collection of the plants formerly common to the oak openings habitats in the Ann Arbor area... The Peony Garden, located near the Washington Heights entrance of Nichols Arboretum, presents a stunning spring display. There are over 270 historic cultivars from the nineteenth and early twentieth century representing the best American, Canadian, and European, peonies of the era... The River Landing shows a fresh approach to bank stabilization. Heavy use, lack of vegetation, concrete rubble, and natural flow of the river all contributed to severe degradation of the banks... The steep trail through School Girls Glen reveals much in its short length. The Glen is a dramatic narrow valley in the most recent glacial moraine, with remnants of an earlier glacial deposit beneath...

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