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Building a Network of Public Peony Gardens

Peonies at the Nichols Arboretum

The University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum and the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College are the founding partners in a multi-institution collaborative to conserve the range of peony species and cultivars that can grow in Canada and the United States. This project is organized through the North American Plant Collections Network (PCN) of the American Public Garden Association (APGA). 



The peony collection at the Nichols Arboretum was awarded Full Status Accreditation in the PCN in February, 2013. Expansion of this project among APGA member gardens will occur during 2016. Interested institutions are welcome to inquire about inclusion by contacting

Peonies at the Scott Arboretum
Scott Arboretum

The Peony Garden at the University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum has depth in historic herbaceous peonies (early 1800s - 1950) from European and North American breeders. For historic background see our section Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden History.

The tree peony collection at the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College has historic depth in tree peonies from Japan and China as well as classic selections from European and American tree peony breeders. In 1940 the Scott Arboretum listed 280 cultivars: for historic citation available from University of Wisconsin/Hathi Digital Trust click here.


Active Peony Gardens in North America

The American Peony Society maintains an active map and list of public gardens that display peonies. 

The public gardens listed below indicate peonies are an important part of their institutional collections. Web-review or a site report supports the collection is large enough to be at least regionally signifcant (more than 30 cultivars or taxa) or hold a distinctive collection. Additional public garden listings in North American of this size are welcome: please contact  Membership in APGA is not required to be listed here.





Inactive Peony Gardens - More Information Welcome

Several large trial and display gardens of herbaceous peonies were established in the early 20th Century in North America, often at colleges and universities. These extensive collections were for comparative studies, often resulting in academic or trade publications. Few remain other than the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden. Additional listings and updated information are welcome and should be sent to

Cornell University

Peony collection dates: Early 1900s. The extensive peony trial plots are noted as the largest in the world on page 93 in the 150th anniversary guide to campus issued in 1918.

Publications from the collection (web links if available):

  • Coit, J. E. 1907.  A peony check-list including the leading varieties of peonies of which authentic descriptions can be found in the horticultural literature.   Web access of University of Michigan copy/Hathi Digital Trust: click here.


Swarthmore College

Peony collection dates: Early 1900s. Note this listing refers to a past herbaceous peony collection, not the current and nationally renowned NAPCC tree peony collection

Publications from the collection (web links if available):  The 1940 list can be found in University of Wisconsin/Hathi Digital Trust publication found here


University of Illinois - Urbana

Peony collection dates: Proposed in 1926, intense acquistion 1927-1933. Date of closure not established.

Publications from the collection (web links if available):

  • Weinard, F. F. and H. B. Dorner. 1938. Peonies. Single and Japanese in the Illinois Trial Garden. Web access via the University of Illinois/Biodiversity Heritage Library: click here.