Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Weather woes take the bloom off this year’s
Peony Festival

Planning a flower festival for a specific time period can be dicey guesswork, as officials at the Nichols Arboretum learned this year when they tried to add more organized activities to what previously has been a less structured event.

Click here for more information about the peonies, as well as a link to a Facebook page with photos of the flowers.

The 2010 Peony Festival, which had been scheduled to run this week through Sunday, was effectively canceled after early warm weather and heavy rains left the Arb’s Peony Garden blooms past their prime.

“The weather has moved the blooming up beyond our expectations,” says Joseph Mooney, marketing manager for the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

There was a party for Arb & Gardens members on Sunday, and a handful of guided tours will proceed this week, but other activities — such as voting for favorite blooms and a photo contest — have been curtailed, Mooney says.

The large, blooming flowers are a favorite springtime destination for thousands of people each year, with many coming from surrounding states to see the largest collection of antique and heirloom peonies in North America.

The blooms usually come out during three to four weeks between late May and mid-June, and in past years the garden often had not set specific dates for activities. “Even if we didn’t do anything, there would be thousands of people showing up to look at the peonies blooming,” Mooney says.

This year planners organized a more structured festival but Mother Nature didn’t get the memo. Early May heat prompted the blooms to come early, and heavy rain last weekend — with more in the forecast —wasn’t kind to the large-headed flowers on their long stalks, some of which bent under the weight of retained water or lost petals.

Despite the cancellation of the festival, visitors still can take in what’s left of the peonies, and hour-long tours are planned for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, noon Thursday and 12:30 p.m. Friday. Friday’s tour will end at 1:15 p.m.