Book Review — “Passion for PEONIES: Celebrating the Culture and Conservation of Nichols Arboretum’s Beloved Flower,” Edited by David Michener and Robert Grese



Not meant to be read from cover to cover, it is more a coffee table book. That said, the first section is one you probably will read all of if you are interested in how The Peony Garden at Nichols Arboretum got started. A few men with passion for peonies and the means to do something about it collaborated in the design and the choices for the original collection. The intent at the time was to have newer cultivars replace the older varieties as they were developed, but as time has gone by the mission statement has changed to preserving the early ones. From the book: It is one of the premier peony gardens in North America and the largest dedicated to historic cultivars.

This book was published to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the garden.

There are many lovely color photos in here of my favorite flower, the peony.

Also in this 150+ page book are sections on “Sister Gardens and Peony Breeders Across the Midwest,” the history of the peony, fragrant peonies, how they are hybridized, and what makes historic peonies such an enduring value. There are two smaller sections on how peonies have inspired writing and arts across the world.

I’ve been to the gardens, which are set in a lower area with upper pathways filled with other blooming plants, shrubs, and trees, including tree peonies. I was overcome by a sense of joy mixed with tranquility as I walked around. Reading this book captures some of the feeling during the rest of the year when the peonies are not in bloom. If you love this plant that gives its beauty in any season whether in bloom or not and want to learn more about them and the special gardens that have been created for them, this is the book for you.

Also, please note, the website of Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, MI, at University of MI is a wonderful place to browse. They have a database with all of the peonies found there. The website is here.

Of course, being a poet, how could I not write one to her at this moment:

Fragrant beauty whose
ruffles put others to shame,
I bow to your grace.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Sadje says:

    Your love of nature and flowers coming through loud and clear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Sadje. On my bucket list is to build some more peony beds and get some of those vintage cultivars.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadje says:

        You’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. memadtwo says:

    A fitting tribute to one if my favorite flowers too. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Kerfe, one of the best things about the book is it shows where there are other serious peony farms in the region for me to visit. It might take awhile if I can only see one each year…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. memadtwo says:

        That sounds like a good thing to pencil in.

        Liked by 1 person

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