After living and working in the Ann Arbor region for the past 5ish years, I finally managed to make it to the Arb to see the famous peonies in bloom! This was one of my 2015 Summer Goals, and I am quite pleased to have achieved it.
Mostly what prevented me from seeing the peonies in the past was that I had a poor grasp of their bloom time. But I kept checking the website, which is how I learned peak bloom is usually around Memorial Day. Greg and I were busy that weekend with other activities, so we made a date to see them a couple of weeks after, when, according to the website, peak bloom would hit this year.
Greg had never been to the Arb (what locals affectionately call Nichols Arboretum). The Arb is a little Ann Arbor's own little Golden Gate Park (or Central Park, if one is from that region of the country). Though owned by the University of Michigan, the Arb is open to everyone. There are some wonderful hiking trails and the Huron River runs right through it, which means lots of scenic picnic spots. I know a few people who have held their weddings at the Arb!
The peony garden was interesting. It's set up in a grid pattern with rows and rows of all kinds and colors of peonies, "over 270 historic cultivated varieties (cultivars) from the nineteenth and early twentieth century representing the best American, Canadian, and European peonies of the era." As a gal from Kalamazoo, here is the part that tickles me the most: "Dr. W. E. Upjohn, founder of the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan, donated peonies to the University of Michigan in 1922." Ibuprofen, multivitamins, triple antibiotic ointment, peonies... What hasn't Upjohn given us?
There were many people there that evening enjoying the peonies with us. I saw a small group of ladies painting and tourists from all over the world snapping photos. From there, we wandered some paths down to the river. We passed joggers, cyclists, people in trees, people in the water, and more. The Arb is just a really great place to hang out for everyone! (Especially peonies.)
Maybe sometime this summer we will find time to canoe around there. I like canoeing and that part of the river seems to see a lot of canoe and kayak action. We'll see. Ypsi also has some nice parks that I have yet to explore, and seeing as that will soon be my new home, it may get priority.