Peonies in bloom at University of Michigan’s arboretum in Ann Arbor

Herbaceous peonies begin to bloom at Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor on May 21, 2021. (Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – The first peonies of the season have begun to bloom in Nichols Arboretum.

The majority of the flowers are tree peonies which bloom a few weeks earlier than the herbaceous varieties found on the main grid of the garden.

In honor of the reopening of the famed Peony Garden, here are some fun facts -- and photos.

  • It is currently the largest collection of herbaceous peonies dating pre-1950 in North America.
  • Other plants include classic to mid-20th-century tree peonies and intersectional (Itoh) peonies which are a hybrid between herbaceous peonies and tree peonies.
  • The garden boasts more than 270 historic peony varieties.
Tree peonies at Nichols Arboretum on May 21, 2021. (Meredith Bruckner)
  • In peak bloom, its nearly 800 peonies can display up to 10,000 flowers.
  • According to the arboretum, the flowers’ fragrance is best in the early morning and evening.
  • Tree peony flowers may last a day or two while herbaceous peony flowers can last several days.
An herbaceous peony begins to bloom at Nichols Arboretum on May 21, 2021. (Meredith Bruckner)
  • Peak bloom typically runs Memorial Day through mid-June and can vary year to year.
  • Not all flowers at the garden are peonies. Keep your eyes peeled for surrounding rhododendrons, golden Alexanders, native columbine and wild geranium.
  • The arboretum posts weekly updates on what’s in bloom including photos, analysis and tips.
Azaleas in bloom in U-M's Nichols Arboretum on May 21, 2021. (Meredith Bruckner)
Flowers in bloom on the trail above the Peony Garden at Nichols Arboretum on May 21, 2021. (Meredith Bruckner)

You can visit the Peony Garden at 1610 Washington Hts. All visitors are required to wear face masks and to practice social distancing.

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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.