Matthaei Botanical Gardens

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Since 1907, the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum (MBGNA) has been welcoming gardening enthusiasts; researchers; students; birders; mission-related groups; and residents of Ann Arbor, Michigan and communities throughout the state and across the country.

Today, MBGNA manages over 700 acres of gardens, research areas, and natural preserves around the Ann Arbor area. This includes a world-class complex of conservatory, greenhouses, laboratory, teaching, and meeting spaces at Matthaei Botanical Gardens and the James D. Reader, Jr. Center for Urban Environmental Education at Nichols Arboretum.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum Mission: MBGNA’s mission is to promote environmental enjoyment, stewardship, and sustainability through education, research, and interaction with the natural world. Our purpose is to provide a hands-on University and community laboratory for conserving, restoring, and celebrating the environment. Through these efforts we seek to develop citizens and leaders dedicated to appreciating, understanding, and restoring our environment and to promote environmental education, research and public outreach.

Highlights of MBGNA include:

The Arboretum: The Arb, as it’s affectionately called, is a 123-acre living museum nestled in the hills adjacent to the University of Michigan’s Central and Medical campuses. The historic design by O.C. Simonds celebrates the dramatic topography of the area. Visitors can enjoy hundreds of native-Michigan plant species as well as special collections of horticultural varieties and plants native to other parts of North America.

Alex Dow Prairie at the Arb: Explore ongoing prairie restoration on a landscape scale and immerse yourself in a setting that attempts to recreate the prairies of prior centuries. Acres of big bluestem and other native American prairie plants emerge after controlled spring fires on an ancient terrace scrubbed by melting glacial waters.

Peony Garden in Nichols Arboretum: The world-renowned peony garden features over 700 plants and one of the finest collections of nineteenth and early twentieth century peonies in the country. As many as 10,000 flowers are visible in massive waves of pinks, whites, and reds when the garden is in full bloom late May to early June.

At Matthaei Botanical Gardens: The Conservatory was opened in 1964. It features three distinct climate zones: tropical, warm temperate, and arid.

The tropical house is a teaching collection, with an emphasis on evolutionary novelties, co-evolutionary relationships and simply beautiful plants. The oldest plants were acquired in 1910.

The warm temperate house contains culturally important plants from many of the world's great and ancient cultures. In contrast to the tropics, these regions have cold winters and dry summers— and the plant forms reflect these prevailing environmental conditions: thick evergreen leaves or seasonal foliage. Plants grown here are not hardy in our cool temperate climate.

Arid House: "Plump," "short," "spiny," and "weird" all describe plants in the Arid House. These plants are from hot deserts in Africa, the Americas, and Asia. All are specialists at surviving droughts. The collection has many examples of unrelated plants with very similar forms from similar environments around the world—a phenomenon known as convergent evolution.

Bonsai and Penjing Collection: At any time only three specimens are displayed in the viewing structure in the warm temperate house of the Conservatory. Visitors are encouraged to return frequently to enjoy the selection of specimens since the trees rotate frequently through the display. In addition, exceptional invitational trees from local bonsai and penjing artists are exhibited in special showings.

Additionally, MBGNA features a gift shop at Matthaei Botanical Gardens; facilities rentals for weddings, business meetings and other gatherings; the Gaffield Children’s Garden, set to open in mid-September 2009; many trails and gardens; and much more.

Hours and location:

Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum outdoor gardens and trails are open 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset Free admission

Matthaei Botanical Gardens Conservatory, Garden Shop & Lobby Closed Mondays and major holidays. Conservatory is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.

Tuesday 10 am to 4:30 pm Wednesday 10 am to 8 pm, with free public admission form noon-8pm Thursday – Sunday 10 am to 4:30 pm

Adults $5.00 Children (5-18) $3.00 Children under 5 Free

University of Michigan students, members of Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, and those who belong to reciprocal gardens also receive free admission.

The Reader Center at Nichols Arboretum Open weekdays 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

For more information call 734-647-7600 Matthaei Botanical Gardens 1800 N. Dixboro Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48105

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