I love strolling through the garden, but somehow I’ve missed visiting the past couple years. When I stopped in at the garden last Friday evening, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many peonies in bloom. According to their website, only 50 percent of the flowers were in bloom, but it seemed to me it was closer to 80 or 90 percent.
The Peony Garden dates back to early twentieth century when Dr. W. E. Upjohn, founder of Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company, donated peonies to the University of Michigan.
The garden contains over 270 American, Canadian, and European varieties in the 27 beds, many of the peonies dating back to the nineteenth century. Each bed can contain 30 peonies. During peak bloom, close to 10,000 flowers are blooming.
The oldest peony in the garden is Lady Emily, a light-pink peony which dates back to 1807. It’s been in the same place in the garden since 1927, when the garden opened.
Peonies thrive in climates with harsh winters. Our extremely cold weather last winter and the heavy precipitation in both winter and spring led to increased growth this year, with larger blooms. And for the first time in over 80 years, all the peonies in the garden were staked with bamboo plants to support the large blooms.