U-M peony garden director: ‘Please do not visit the garden this year’

The peony garden at Nichols Arboretum on June 18, 2019. (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – University of Michigan has canceled its annual bloom celebration of its historic peony garden in the Nichols Arboretum.

Every year from late May to mid-June, thousands of visitors travel to Ann Arbor to see the spectacular display of herbaceous and tree peony varieties.

The director of the U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, Bob Grese, is asking members of the public to skip their annual visit.

“I never imagined I’d be saying this to the thousands of visitors hoping to see the peonies: please do not visit the garden this year,” Grese said in a statement.

“We simply cannot have crowds of any size visiting. The risk to your health and others’ is too great. All of us across the U-M campuses are feeling not only the impact of the pandemic on our lives but also the disappointment of having to cancel so many events."

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The peony garden at Nichols Arboretum on June 18, 2019. (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

To make up for the lack of visitors, Grese said staff have been stepping up efforts to bring the peony garden experience to users online.

“We’re ramping up efforts to get a lot of peony content online, both to our dedicated peony website and to the Matthaei-Nichols website,” he said in a statement. “We’ve even pushed to publish a new book with U-M Press out in time for people to enjoy during the peony bloom season. The book is currently available from U-M Press and will soon be available for order online from our gift shop.”

The Nichols Arboretum has remained open throughout the COVID-19 crisis for visitors to enjoy strolls through nature. Visitors are asked to follow local and state guidelines including staying at least six feet apart from others.

A gift from U-M alumnus and peony aficionado Dr. W.E. Upjohn, the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden began in 1922. Its collection of internationally recognized and is currently the largest collection of herbaceous peonies dating pre-1950 in North America.

To visit the garden’s website, click here.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.