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Plants take precedence at two Ann Arbor attractions


Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, Michigan, uses this tag line: two great locations, one organization.

Conservatory, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Photo: GTM/David Hoekman Conservatory, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Admission is free at both locations, a single unit within the University of Michigan.

“There’s something for every age here,” said Joe Mooney, marketing and development associate. “You can stop and simply enjoy the gardens and natural areas or dig a little deeper for a takeaway learning experience about peonies, bonsai, native or medicinal plants. Or take a horticultural tour of the globe in our year-round, indoor conservatory.”

Nichols Arboretum is on the central campus near the U-M hospitals. Matthaei Botanical Gardens is located north and east of central campus near the U-M East Ann Arbor Health Center and Domino’s Farms.

Also known as the Arb, Nichols Arboretum includes 123 acres bordering the Huron River on the east side of Ann Arbor.

One of the major points of interest at the Arb is the peony garden. The largest collection of heirloom herbaceous peonies in North America is currently undergoing a multiyear rejuvenation project. Each year, the peonies burst into bloom from late May through mid-June.

As the Arb has no parking lot, passengers must be dropped off and picked up at one of two entrances.

The Alden B. Dow-designed conservatory is the main attraction at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Tropical, temperate and arid houses hold more than 1,200 species from around the world.

Outside, trails connect eight garden areas. Gardens include several Great Lakes gardens, a bonsai (Japanese) and penjing (Chinese) garden, a rock garden, medicinal plant garden and herb garden.

A guided tour of the conservatory or trails can be arranged.

A small motorcoach parking fee is assessed at the gardens.

For more information on Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum call  734-647-7600 or visit


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