Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, June 4, 2012

Vandals damage peony garden at the Arb

Vandals damaged a number of peony plants in the Nichols Arboretum peony garden sometime between May 29-30.

  A large number of peonies were pulled from the ground at the Arb. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Department of Public Safety.

The morning of May 30, a Matthaei-Nichols staff member discovered a large number of peony stems with roots and flowers attached lying at the Washington Heights entrance to the Arb, and peony leaves, flowers and stems were strewn around the central garden path. All of the damaged plants were mature specimens at least 50 years old.

The peony garden draws thousands of visitors each season and is the largest collection of antique and heirloom peonies in North America, making it a unique biodiversity resource of heritage materials and a cultural jewel for the community and for the university, says Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum Director Robert Grese.

“It’s particularly sad during this time when hundreds of visitors are out enjoying the peonies that someone would ever want to destroy these plants,” Grese says.

Dr. W.E. Upjohn, founder of the Upjohn pharmaceutical company in Kalamazoo, donated the peonies for the garden in 1922. Many of the peonies are growing in the same location they were planted nearly a century ago. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the collection.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call the Department of Public Safety at 734-763-1131.