You are here

Now Playing

There's something happening in Nichols Arboretum and the peony garden from spring through summer and into fall. As the season progresses, scroll down to see more peonies in bloom from previous dates.

Spring 2019 Season:

June 18, 2019: Morning (early) and evening are the best times to see the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden. These pics of the garden by the dawn's early light were snapped today. Visit the garden this week as the garden gets ready to close its final performance.


June 5, 2019: Happy birthday, W.E. Upjohn! Dr. Upjohn was a University of Michigan alumnus and the donor who made the gift in 1922 of a part of his peony collection to the UM. Nearly 100 years later and the garden is still going strong. A special peony cake was created for the occasion and shared with Matthaei-Nichols members during a peony pop-up event in the Arb. The single plant pictured here is peony 'Faith Fenton.' The story is that Faith Fenton was the nom de plume of a schoolteacher in Ontario in the early 20th-century. Nom de plume because she also moonlighted as an investigative reporter for Ontario media and didn't want to use her real name. (Photo of Faith Fenton by Michele Yanga.)


May 29, 2019: We invited Matthaei-Nichols members to the peony garden on May 29 for a special tour of the garden led my our curator David Michener. Few herbaceous peonies were in bloom but the participants got a good look at dozens of spectacular tree peonies as well as azaleas and dogwoods blooming on the Laurel Ridge Trail above the peony garden. Images below:




A lot happens behind the scenes at the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden. Each herbaceous peony plent must be staked. And all the beds mulched. You know those smallish bags of mulch we all buy in the spring? Around 2 cubic feet a bag or so. Here's a note from Matthaei-Nichols Garden Manager Doug Conley on mulching the peony garden this spring: 

"20 yards up, 20 yards down, 20 yards moved all around!!! Many thanks to those who mulched 26 of 27 peony beds today, as well as staked several dozen peonies. The blooms are still to come but it will be a wonderful show."





June 21, 2018: The peony garden is done blooming for the season. But right on the heels of the peony garden is the Gateway Garden at the Arb. This garden is already blooming and continues to bloom into late summer. See some images below of the Arb Gateway Garden in summer bloom:



May 31: Almost half of our peonies are in bloom! Each peony is special in its own way, but Faith Fenton surely stands out and stands tall (almost 5 feet to be exact). This lovely pink peony is named after Alice Fenton (1857 - 1936), a Canadian school teacher. Alice used the pseudonym "Faith Fenton" when writing her columns for the Toronto Empire newspaper as an investigative journalist. If her identity was know, she would have lost her teaching job since the crimes she reported on were morally inappropriate for a teacher's involvement. Additionally, she was the very first woman to write for this paper. Be sure to check out her beautiful and historic peony on your next visit!





May 24: Tree Peonies are looking better and better each day. Our Historic Chinese Tree Peonies bed is specifically doing well, full of many bright colors and beautiful flowers. Take a look below to see some! (Photos by Julia Lawson)

'Pheonix White'                                                                                                











'Young Yuhuan, Drunken Imperial Conubine'

'Garnet-red Light on the Desk'


'Hyacinthine Dragon Lying in Inkpool'


May 22: Tree peonies are doing well and growing strong. Below is a nice view of one of our tree peony beds, and a close up of a Snow-Kissed Peach tree peony. Rhododendrons are also beginning to bloom on the ridge nearby and on the Laurel Ridge Trail above the peony garden. (Photos by Michele Yanga)



May 18: Tree peonies 'Roselette' and 'Hephestos' are blooming on the hillside just east of the peony garden. Tree peonies bloom about 2 weeks before herbaceous peonies, lengthening the season back to mid-May. Pictured below are Roselette and Hephestos. (Photos by Julia Lawson)



On May 16, one herbaceous peony is blooming and two tree peonies are getting ready to bloom. Pictured below left to right: a dark-red fern-leaf herbaceous peony; tree peony 'Phoenix White'; tree peony 'Luoyang Red.' Photos by Michele Yanga.



2017 Updates:

June 16, 2017: The 2017 peony season has come to a close. Just a few blossoms hanging on but time and warm weather hasten the end of bloom. This remarkable year saw the garden bloom for nearly a month, from mid-May to mid-June.

June 12, 2017: A few late bloomers in the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden, like the pink and white Auten's Pride (first picture), but the season is trending to finished on June 12. 

June 9, 2017: The garden is still blooming, but hot weather forecast for the weekend and today's rain will hasten the end of bloom season. It's been an amazing season for the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden---from mid-May through nearly mid-June the garden glowed with tree peonies and, later, the celebrated herbaceous peonies in the main beds. See the garden today between the downpours, and this weekend for sure. Still many blooms on June 9 that look lovely and fresh. A few examples:


June 7, 2017: The garden is still in full bloom. Cooler weather has kept the plants looking fresh. A few plants fading. See the garden today, and before the weekend---hot weather ahead will vastly accelerate bloom fading.

June 5, 2017: The garden is in full bloom---very nearly 100% with a few plants even beginning to fade. The rain forecast for June 4 never materialized, and this week is starting our cool, which will help the peony blossoms last longer. Catch the garden in bloom soon! Some photos from June 5:

June 2, 2017: The garden is about 75-80% in bloom. Today and this weekend will be peak bloom. Visit soon! Some photos from June 2:

May 31, 2017: The garden is nearly 50% in bloom this morning. Plenty of color and bloom-shape variety. Be sure to visit this week. Plus: Peonies Galore sale on Saturday, June 3, 10 am. Peonies sell quickly. Arrive early! 

May 27, 2017: At last the herbaceous peonies are beginning to bloom in large numbers. Lots of people visiting this Memorial Day weekend. Check out some of the flowering beauty.

May 26, 2017: Most of the herbaceous peonies have swelling buds showing plenty of color underneath. The plants really want to bloom. They're just waiting for some sun. Should be a good weekend if things brighten up and warm up. Stay tuned.


May 24, 2017: Plenty of azaleas and rhododendrons still blooming May 24. Also plantings of perennials such as amsonia, baptisia (false indigo), an Zizea aurea (golden Alexander). (Pictured below: bright orange azalea, Zizea, amsonia, baptisia). On May 24 there are also plenty of herbaceous peonies swelling and showing flower color. We expect the main herbaceous peony beds to begin blooming en masses for Memorial Day weekend and beyond. Check back here often!

May 17, 2017: The herbaceous peonies are showing a lot of color in their buds. a few in the front left bed are starting to bloom this morning. With this cooler weather the peonies may hold off a little longer but we're still predicting a late May- early June bloom season.

May 17, 2017: The tree peonies are still going strong in the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden. Some of the tree peonies come in colors not often seen in the herbaceous peonies, such as this yellow tree peony.

May 14, 2017: A lot of tree peonies are blooming. Tree peonies, with their woody stems and tissue-paper petals, extend the peony garden season by 2 weeks or so before the herbaceous peonies start to open. They come in colors not usually seen in herbaceous peonies: stunning purples, pinks, and white along the hillside next to the main herbaceous peony beds. 




June 17, 2016: The peony season comes to a close. This has been a great year for the peony garden, with herbaceous peonies in bloom for a month and the tree peonies opening---and extending---the season earlier in May. Here's a couple of still-blooming peonies plus a wide-angle shot taken June 17 early morning. 


June 14, 2016: The 2016 bloom season is pretty much over even as a few plants are still showing flowers. What's with the empty beds? We have removed ailing peonies from the garden. A cover crop was planted and tilled under to add organic matter to the soil. After the peony bloom, heirloom annuals are planted in the empty spaces to add color and interest over the summer.  New, healthy peonies will be planted in the empty spaces in upcoming years. Meanwhile, June rhododendrons are opening on Laurel Ridge trail above the peony garden.


June 12, 2016: Garden fading but 20% of plants are still showing fresh blooms. One late bloomer is James R. Mann (pictured at left below), a pinkish-white double.

June 10, 2016: Even as the garden fades there are still some spectacular individual blooms and plants loaded with flowers. The garden has been blooming since May 16, and if you count the tree peonies, even earlier than that. Take a look at what's happening this morning, June 10:

June 8, 2016: Cool weather keeps the garden looking fresh. Thanks to Michele Yanga for these photographs of peony 'Sagamore' (pinkish-white petals with golden centers) and 'Sagamore' (double, pink). Come out to see the garden while the weather is cool!



June 6, 2016: The garden is winding down after days of heat and torrential rains over the weekend. Scattered blossoms and bowed stems signal the close of the peony season but in the main the garden is still a beautiful thing to behold. See it in the next day or two! Plenty of fresh blossoms showing.


June 3, 2016: Plenty of herbaceous peonies are blooming! This weekend will be the absolute peak.





May 31, 2016: The peony garden is picking up speed, with hundreds more flowers opening in the course of one day alone (May 31). Volunteer photographer Michele Yanga took these close-ups of (pictured below from left to right) Sylvia Saunders, L'Etincelante, and Lois Kelway, three beautiful and strikingly different heirloom herbaceous peonies.





May 30, 2016: Plenty of gorgeous azaleas and rhododendrons blooming on Laurel Ridge Trail at the Arb near the peony garden. The yellowy-orange one is spectacular with the added bonus of a vanilla-like fragrance.

May 22, 2016: Tree peonies blooming profusely. These crepe-blossomed beauties bloom a week or two prior to the main beds. The main peony garden beds contain herbaceous peonies while the slopes to the side of the main beds are filled with tree peonies.


















May 19, 2016: Tree peonies are getting started. Volunteer photographer Michele Yanga snapped this tree peony 'Hyacinth Dragon Lying in Ink Pool' as well as a rhododendron and a wild geranium.




Week of May 16, 2016: Tree peonies are starting to bloom; dogwood still going strong, redbud continuing thanks to the cooler weather.















Week of May 9, 2016, azaleas, dogwoods, redbud, and lots of ants visiting the peony buds. We are still on schedule for approximately Memorial Day bloom. Stay tuned.

Week of May 2, 2016, redbuds are coming into bloom near the peony garden and elsewhere in the Arb.









Week of April 25, 2016: Azaleas, weeping cherries, and dogwoods are in bloom, and Virginia bluebells dot the beds with their cool azure hue.

Pictured left to right: Dogwood opening its petals; azalea in the foreground and white pines frame a weeping cherry next to the peony garden; Virginia bluebells near the peony garden. (All photos courtesy Michele Yanga.)