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Historic peony garden in bloom at University of Michigan's campus in Ann Arbor. How to plan your visit

Historic peony garden in bloom at University of Michigan's campus in Ann Arbor
Historic peony garden in bloom at University of Michigan's campus in Ann Arbor 03:00

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) — The W.E. Upjohn at the University of Michigan's Nichols Arboretum has reached peak bloom, and it's a stunning sight. 

Horticulture lead Doug Conley said the bloom occurred much earlier than usual this year. 

"We were well into June before we hit peak in 2023," said Conley. "The garden blooms according to its own time. It blooms according to the weather conditions that are happening – that's the biggest influence." 

He said a string of hot days recently sped up the bloom, which is considered to peak when it reaches 50%.

Staff are currently hard at work protecting plants from the elements.  

"There's been a lot of rain, and there was some hail on Sunday, so they've taken a beating," said peony garden intern Drew Gottschang as he and a team member tied a string around a plant and placed a stake to keep it from falling over. "We just want to help give them some support." 

In total, the garden has 27 beds, 800 plants and tens of thousands of blooms. 

The garden is a tradition that many come to enjoy. 

"So, we come here every spring, every May and it's one of my favorite things to do in Ann Arbor," said visitor Kristin Drogos. "And one of my favorite things is the smell. The smell just hits you in the face, just waft of peonies and fresh floral scents and we absolutely love it." 

"We lived in Uganda, and we've never really seen peonies except in mommy's wedding books," said young visitor Naomi Sabena. "So, we decided to come here on their peak, and we're getting to see them, and they're so beautiful." 

Throughout the day, medical staff from U of M's hospital enjoy taking breaks in the garden. 

"It's a very nice place to just come and relax and get away from things for 15-20 minutes," said nurse Mary S. 

The 102-year-old garden features 350 varieties of historic herbaceous peonies from the 19th and 20th centuries. It's a popular spot to take pictures, go for a stroll with others, or with a man's best friend. 

The window to see the peonies is short each year, and visitors are encouraged to visit through early June to take it all in. 

Since parking is limited around the garden's entrance, a free shuttle will be offered on the weekends of June 1-2 and June 8-9.  The shuttle will pick visitors up from Mitchell Field at 1900 Fuller Rd. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will run every 15-20 minutes. 

For more information, visit the garden's website.  

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