Over 10,000 miles of freshwater coastlines give life to a wide variety of natural communities in Michigan, ranging from sandy dunes and cobble beaches to the woodland ecosystems we may be more familiar with. The Great Lakes Garden at Matthaei Botanical Gardens displays both the ecosystems and plants that are endemic (found nowhere else) to the Great Lakes region.
This region’s geography, glacial history, and lake-influenced climate create the perfect habitat for many native orchid species, for example. The Jean Avis Wilson Native Orchid Garden displays some of the state’s nearly 60 species of orchids.
The Great Lakes Gardens showcases the cultural significance of the region to the Great Lakes region to people native to this area. Featured in the Circle Garden are plants like white sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) and sweet grass (Anthoxanthum hirtum), species that are important to the Anishinaabeg people.
Work on the Great Lakes Garden began in 2012, with the garden opening in 2013. It now serves as a rich source of knowledge about the natural habitats found in Michigan and the plants they are home to.