In Bloom: A Day Trip to Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden

I have always loved peonies. I know they’re kind of the “it” flower online, but long before Instagram existed or ‘aesthetics’ had entered into the public lexicon, my parents’ neighbors had a beautiful patch of peonies that grew on the side of their house. Each summer, for just a few short days, those peonies would bloom and they would give us a bouquet of flowers that would sit in my parents’ kitchen until they died and found their way into the garbage.


A few years ago I learned about the peony garden at Nichols Arboretum on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Since then, I have always wanted to see them in bloom but, because spring is such a busy time of year and peonies have such a short life span, I have always missed them. I assumed that would be the case again this year, but thanks (?) to the awful weather we’ve been having, the flowers bloomed later than normal and I was able to make it!



You know the part in Forrest Gump when Forrest is in Vietnam and he says, “one day it started raining and it didn’t stop for four months”? That’s exactly how it has felt in Michigan this spring—and, of course, Sunday was no exception. I almost told Wajid that we shouldn’t go, because I figured looking at a peony garden in the rain wouldn’t be any fun. I’m glad we powered through, because other than a light drizzle when we first got there, we actually had really nice weather.



For some reason, I thought that Nichols Arboretum was part of the Matthei Botanicals Gardens—which I’ve also never been to—and I was a little surprised to find that the peony garden was, in fact, just a plot of land with a bunch of peonies! Surprised, but not disappointed. 😉  


The flowers are arranged in 27 beds with each full bed containing 30 peonies. When filled to capacity, the garden holds nearly 800 peonies and over 10,000 flowers at peak bloom. Fun, nerdy fact: The garden features 350 historic herbaceous varieties—over half of which are no longer commercially available. It’s also the largest peony garden in North America. The more you know!



In addition to this beautiful peony garden, the Arb also has some really cool trails. After having a knee issue last weekend, I wasn’t really up for hiking per se, so we walked around a little bit and Wajid held my hand whenever there were stumps or steps, which was very sweet of him. I think after he experienced my knee cap being stuck on the side of my leg, he was actually more concerned about the terrain than I was—which I genuinely appreciated. Not really being a huge nature bitch myself, I would have never suggested hiking or trail walking, but it was really pretty and we even got to see some nature, including a robin with a mouth full of worms and a silkworm that dropped down on his head, lololol.


I—along with every other woman with an Instagram account—love peonies and I highly recommend checking out the peony garden in Ann Arbor. Bonus that they’re still blooming!

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