Friday, May 31, 2013

Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden Update, May 31

Peony garden starting to show. All buds have color. Several plants are blooming. Possibly 10% bloom, give or take. A day or two more of this weather and things will really get going.

Visit the garden June 1 & 2 for the Peony Festival and Peonies Galore Sale. Events include free live music in the garden at 7 pm, Sat., June 1; crafts for kids; tours; and more.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Everything's Coming Up Peonies

May 30, 2013, 7 am---

At last, the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden is beginning to bloom in earnest. Cooler weather and a more "normal" spring (whatever that may be in these parts) have kept the blooms at bay, but this morning, several plants are showing, including 'Postilion', 'Helen', and 'Crusader'. Blooms should begin to appear in greater number beginning today and tomorrow, but the optimal peony viewing time is still several days away. And the double-edged sword of weather, so to speak, is that it will simultaneously slow bloom down for a longer bloom period but also delay overall blooming. Weather!

Be sure to visit the peony garden this weekend during the Peonies Galore Sale & Peony Fest. We've partnered with local nursery Northfield Farms to bring you some of the same varieties of heirloom peonies growing in the Arboretum garden---the largest collection of heirloom peonies in North America.

Dr. W.E. Upjohn, founder of Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company in Kalamazoo, Mich., and an avid peony collector, donated the original collection of peonies to the University of Michigan in 1922. The Peony Garden opened to the public in 1927, and some of the peonies are still growing in the same place they were planted nearly 100 years ago! The peony is truly a long-term perennial.





Monday, May 27, 2013

Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden Close, but Not Quite Yet

Monday, May 27, 7:30 am---

The peony garden is getting ready but the buds are on hold, with a few blooming at the back of the garden. Cooler weekend weather to blame, likely. Azaleas and rhododendrons on the Julie Norris Post Collection on Laurel Ridge Trail are worth a trip today, for sure.

Near the back of the garden away from Washington Hts.


The yellow ones smell like gardenias, we swear.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Little Fly with a Fierce Appearance

Matthaei-Nichols natural areas specialist and Massasauga rattlesnake expert Steve Parrish also likes to take pictures in his spare time. While working for the Arb and Gardens he's taken some pretty amazing pictures of the flora and fauna that live in, around, and on the properties.

Below is Steve's take on a wasp-mimic fly in what he believes to be the soldier fly or Stratiomyidae family. Check out the amazing iridescent pixellation of the fly's eye up close. Here's looking at you!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Follow the Great Lakes Garden's progress on Tumblr

Native Plant Volunteers planting Mitella diphyllum (bishop's cap) in the Upland Wet Woodland
Re-planting native iris in the Wet Woodland 

Eastern Massasauga finding a new home in the Prairie-to-be (photo credit: Steven Parrish)

Follow the Great Lakes Garden on a new side site: http://mbgnagreatlakesgarden.tumblr.com/
This blog will be a database and log that details the phenology, plantings, and overall progress of the new Great Lakes Garden, a one-of-a-kind collection of native, endemic, and endangered plants from around the Great Lakes.
[Photos above from the May 17th Native Plant Volunteer day]

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bonsai & Penjing Garden Opens May 19 to Enthusiastic Crowds

The sounds of Japanese koto music drifted across the garden spaces at Matthaei as dozens of bonsai enthusiasts, visitors, and members congregated outside the gates to the new Bonsai & Penjing Garden in the minutes leading up to the official ribbon-cutting.

Left to right: Jerry and Rhona Meislik, Matthaei-Nichols Director Bob Grese, and local bonsai artist Jack Wikle officially open the bonsai garden.

As soon as Matthaei-Nichols director Bob Grese, donors Jerry and Rhona Meislik, and bonsai artist Jack Wikle cut the ribbon, hundreds of people poured into the bonsai garden to get a closer look at the garden's hand-crafted benches, pavilion, and display stands, along with the dozens of trees on display.

Hundreds of visitors poured into the bonsai garden last Sunday, May 19.
Jerry Meislik, who together with his wife Rhona donated funds to begin the endowment for the garden, spoke at a private event in the bonsai garden space before the public opening. Many of us seek a connection to the natural world, whether through gardening or other pursuits. Bonsai, Meislik said, is "my most direct link to nature." Life can deal us good news and bad news, and "we have our ups and downs," Meislik observed, "but we keep in contact with nature."

A plaque lists the names of the garden's founding donors.
Matthaei-Nichols director Bob Grese spoke about the way the new bonsai garden connects us to the University community and its efforts to reach out to the world through teaching, education, and art, and about how the contemporary scope of bonsai makes it a truly international art form.

Left to right: The Consul General of Japan, in Detroit, Mr. Kuninori Matsuda; president of the Japan News Club  Noriko Masada; Matthaei-Nichols Director Bob Grese; donor Jerry Meislik.

Arb and Gardens horticulturist Connie Crancer, who has long worked with the bonsai collection here and with the Ann Arbor Bonsai Society, touched on the changing nature of all things when she said that bonsai "is a very fluid art form, constantly under development." There's never a moment when a particular bonsai tree as a living thing is "done," and visitors to the garden 20 years from now will appreciate how the trees have changed over two decades.

A crowd of visitors estimated at upwards of 400 turned out for the opening of the Bonsai & Penjing Garden at Matthaei under perfect, sunny mid-May skies. If you missed the event, the bonsai garden is open through Labor Day 2013 from 10 am-8 pm daily. Admission is free. Visit the Matthaei-Nichols website to learn more about the Bonsai & Penjing Garden and other programming and events scheduled for this summer and the rest of the year.

A view of several trees on display in the garden on May 19, 2013.

Monday, May 6, 2013

What's in Bloom and on the Wing at Matthaei Botanical Gardens

There's a lot going on in the Great Lakes Gardens and the Helen V. Smith Woodland Wildflower Garden right now. Come out to Matthaei and treat yourself to an explosion of spring! Click on the plant names below for more information and pictures. And thanks to the University of Michigan Herbarium for the great images and information.

All over Matthaei, Baltimore orioles abound.
Baltimore oriole

In bloom in the Great Lakes Gardens:

service berry
cowslip in great profusion
common trillium
may-apple (in bud)
wood anemone
two-leaved toothwort
common blue violet

Common blue violet

Virginia bluebells

In bloom in the Helen V.Smith Woodland Wildflower Garden:

service berry
red bud
flower dogwood (bud)
common trillium
may-apple (in bud)
wood anemone
common blue violet
spring beauty
false rue anemone
wood poppy
rue anemone
swamp buttercup
shooting-star (bud)
Virginia blue bells in profusion
yellow violet
hybrid violet