Two Great Locations, One Organization

Jean Avis Wilson Native Orchid Garden – Great Lakes Gardens

    at Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Great Lakes Gardens Endowment Fund

Support the continued maintenance and care of this one-of-a-kind garden, so that future generations can experience the unique living heritage of the Great Lakes region.

Orchids are among the world’s most fascinating plants, and the Great Lakes Region surpasses all other parts of temperate North America in the number of native orchids, with the exception of Florida. Our geography, lake-influenced climate, and glacial history all contribute to the diversity of orchids found within our region. This garden is constructed on an east-facing slope, kept moist by groundwater seepage. Here you’ll find many of the singular orchids of the region as well as associated plants found in this moist habitat—native lilies, ferns, mosses, and sedges. A short boardwalk near the base of the slope offers visitors dramatic views of the orchid displays. Initial plans for the orchid garden called for planting the orchids directly in the ground. After the site flooded several years in a row,  Arb and Gardens staff realized a different strategy was needed to ensure the orchids’ success. Thanks to a grant from long-time Matthaei-Nichols’ supporter Ann Arbor Farm & Garden, staff and volunteers were able to build cedar boxes in which to grow the orchids.

Professor Emeritus of Industrial Engineering Richard C. Wilson (Industrial & Operational Engineering Ph.D., 1961) made a gift in memory of his wife to create the Jean Avis Wilson Native Orchid Garden.

How can you help? If you want future generations to experience the unique living heritage of the Great Lakes region and would like to support continued maintenance and care of this one-of-a-kind garden, please contact Meredith Olson, Director of Development, Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum,1800 N. Dixboro Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48105; merolson@umich.edu; 734.647.7847

Orchids in the Great Lakes Gardens

Yellow lady-slipper orchids (Cymbidium parviflorum) growing in the Jean Avis Wilson Native Orchid Garden, a part of the Great Lakes Gardens. Photo by Michele Yanga.

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