Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, MI

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The University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Gardens has the stated mission of "promoting environmental enjoyment, stewardship and sustainability through education, research, and interaction with the natural world." It's stated purpose is: provide a hands-on University and community laboratory for conserving, restoring, and celebrating the environment."

In 1907, the University created a Botanical Garden and Arboretum on the land between Geddes Road and the Huron River, just a few blocks from Central Campus on the site now known as Nichols Arboretum. A detailed history of Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols can be read in this PDF file.

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens is a nice place to visit for pleasant and educational walk though nature. On site is a Visitor Center, restrooms, a gift shop, library, classrooms, auditorium, Conservatory, and many, many gardens. All the trails at the gardens form loops back towards the Visitor Center. The grounds are open daily without charge while the conservatory requires an admission fee.

The gardens include outdoor display gardens, a 10,000+ square-foot conservatory, and natural areas with walking trails. The gardens are named after former Michigan regent Frederick C. Matthaei, Sr. and his wife Mildred, who donated 200 acres of land. I thought the bonsai plants, dessert house and venus fly traps plants were very cool.

Among the gardens, trails and areas at Matthaei include: Gaffield Children's Garden, Alexandra Hicks Herb Knot Garden, Edible Gardens, Dix Pond Trail, Arid House, Bonsai & Penjing Collection, Tropical House, Marilyn Bland Prairie, Ground Cover Display, Gateway Garden of New World Plants, Helen V Smith Woodland Wildflower Garden, Historical Farmstead, Marie Azary Rock Garden, MiSo House, Norman Memorial Grove, Perennial Garden, Sam Graham Trees, Sue Reichert Discovery Trail, Urban Pocket Garden, and Fleming Creek Trail and Marilyn Bland Prairie Trail. More information on all these areas can be found here.

Nichols Arboretum

In 2004, the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum combined as one administrative unit within the University. the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum manages over 700 acres of gardens, research areas, and natural preserves around the Ann Arbor area with a 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.

From their web site - The Nichols Arboretum, or "Arb", has extensive but dispersed collections of native and exotic trees and shrubs masterfully crafted into a naturalistic landscape begun by O. C. Simonds in 1907. As you explore you'll find one of the richest landscapes in the region, as well as a complex glacial topography that presents vast panoramas, broad valleys and intimate dales and glens. Some people find it easy to 'Get Lost!' at the Arb, but you can always find your way out even if you ignore the maps on site. If you walk downhill to the river, you can follow the river road upstream to the River Entry. Likewise, if you're not near the river, just follow the drives and trails uphill along the valleys and you'll thread your way to either the Washington Heights or Geddes Street entrance.

Park Contact Information

Matthaei Botanical Gardens
1800 N. Dixboro Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Phone Number: (734) 647-7600
Approximate Size: 300 acres Vehicle Permit Required: No

Related Web Sites

Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum Homepage

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

All Areas and Exhibits at Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Video of Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Very nice YouTube Video of Matthaei Botanical Gardens

A picture/video YouTube Video of Matthaei Botanical Gardens with classical music

Virtual Tour of Matthaei Botanical Gardens (requires Apple QuickTime)

Nichols Arboretuma

All Gardens and Areas

Matthaei Botanical Gardens Map (PDF)

Nichols Arboretuma Map (PDF)

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