Public Peony Gardens – Current and Lost to Time

Current Gardens

The American Peony Society maintains an up-to-date world-wide list of public gardens that have at least 20 kinds of peonies in their displays. This does not mean there is a designated peony garden (as here at the UM Nichols Arboretum). Rather, they may be dispersed wherever peonies fit one of many planting and aesthetic needs, as at the Montreal Botanical Garden, Quebec. 

University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum

Nationally Accredited Plant Collection Logo
Plant Collections Network logo

The University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum is the founding garden in an intended multi-institution collaborative to collect, conserve, display, study, the diversity of peony species and cultivars in Canada and the United States. This work is part of the Plant Collections Network (PCN) organized by the American Public Garden Association (APGA) in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service. Participation in this program requires Accreditation.

“Lost” Peony Gardens – We seek more Information

We seek more information about the “lost” peony gardens of North America. Early in the 20th Century, several large trial and display gardens of peonies were established across North America, often at colleges and universities. We know the following ones existed because of academic or trade publications – and there may have been others. If you have information beyond what is listed below, please contact

Gardens are in alphabetical order by the institution operating the garden.

Publication citations are from the HathiTrust Digital library. 

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.

Coit, J. Eliot (John Eliot). (1908). The peony. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University.


Swarthmore College

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

Wister, J. C. (John Caspar). (1940). The Arthur Hoyt Scott Horticultural Foundation, a ten-year history: January 1, 1930, to December 3, 1939. Swarthmore, Pa.: Swarthmore College.


University of Illinois – Urbana

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

Weinard, F. E. (Frederick Francis)., Dorner, H. B. (Herman Bernard). (1938). Peonies: single and Japanese in the Illinois trial garden. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station.