After the programs are over, it’s back to the office to continue brainstorming and creating new programs that can be used for future school and summer groups. The youth education team has also been discussing summer programs that are already in place here, such as Wolverine Pathways, Wetland Explorers (coming up July 19), and Trail Treks August 9). With these programs we hope to provide the best possible learning experience for youth.
|A page from the Wetland Adventure booklet on our website.|
It’s important for me as a young educator to learn as much new information as I can. I like being able to incorporate that information into the walks and programs we conduct here. At Matthaei Botanical Gardens, the interns are given the opportunity to attend informational tours led by different staff members. On June 1 I attended the peony garden tour led by Matthaei-Nichols Curator David Michener. This fascinating tour gave me the chance to step away from being the educator for a brief time and be the student again.
|Matthaei-Nichols student interns and staff at the peony garden tour on June 1.
The tour was led by Arb and Gardens Curator David Michener.
Prior to the tour I’d heard many great things about the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden. Even so, I must admit I’d never seen it before, despite having worked as a florist in a previous job and having seen many peonies in that capacity. I was excited to finally see the garden in full bloom. When I arrived, the sight of the peonies took my breath away. The various shades of pink and white were stunning, and the delicate fragrance that swirled through the air was uplifting.
|The Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden in bloom this June.|
The tour began with the history of the garden and the origin of peonies. It was interesting to learn who Dr. W. E. Upjohn was, and how he created the garden by giving some of his own peonies to the University of Michigan to be planted in the Arb in the early 1920s.
The tour continued with David explaining the six different types of floral forms. Each form was unique, and everyone was taking pictures to capture their beauty. As we continued to weave in and out of the plots, David explained the history behind some of the names of the peonies, which was another interesting aspect of the tour. Many of the peonies were named after the wives or daughters of the grower, or after famous women.
|Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is named after the famed actress of stage and silent movies. She is also one of the peonies on the “Famous Ladies” tour of peonies named after celebrated women in history.|
As the tour came to a close, I began to think about the days I spent arranging flowers for customers, and how I never gave a second thought to the kind of peony I was holding. I began to wonder about which particular type of peony is used in the floral industry, and how involved the process is from grower to customer. I also began to wonder what impacts the floral industry has on particular cultivars. While this tour may have raised more questions for me, the stories behind the peonies increased my knowledge and appreciation for these beautiful flowers. I will be sure to visit the garden again in the future!