The University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden presents a stunning spring display, with over 270 historic cultivated varieties (cultivars) from the nineteenth and early twentieth century representing the best American, Canadian, and European peonies of the era. These fragrant spring beauties are arranged in 27 beds with each full bed containing 30 peonies. When filled to capacity the garden holds nearly 800 peonies and up to 10,000 flowers at peak bloom (late May–Mid June).
The garden also serves as a backdrop for many campus events and performances, including “Shakespeare in the Arb,” a popular yearly production where audiences follow actors to different locations throughout Nichols Arboretum as they act out the chosen Shakespeare play of the year. “Shakespeare in the Arb” generally runs each weekend (Thursday–Sunday) throughout the month of June.
Dr. W. E. Upjohn, founder of the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan, donated peonies to the University of Michigan in 1922. The peony garden itself was designed by former Arboretum director Aubrey Tealdi and opened to the public in 1927. The garden is located near the 1610 Washington Heights entrance to Nichols Arboretum.