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The Gateway Garden of New World Plants is an entrance to all of the other display gardens at Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor. It is an introduction to the diverse flora of the Americas, and includes both wild species and modern selections.


Michigan Gardener | June 2015 | MichiganGardener.com

Plants, Nature, and Learning A visit to Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor will leave you inspired and enriched


here is something for everyone at Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor. From a children’s garden to a grown-up solar project home; perennial gardens with a riot of color to a calming labyrinth; and solitary hiking and birding trails to public exhibits or classes.

A little history In 1854, a University of Michigan map shows a proposed botanical garden, although it was discussed as far back as 1817 when the university charter was written. Eventually, in 1907, the University of Michigan Botanical Garden and Arboretum was established in the Department of Botany. The decision to relocate the botanical gardens to the present site was made in 1957. Two hundred acres were donated by Frederick and Mildred Matthaei Sandie and additional land was purchased by the university. Parrott Architect Alden B. Dow designed the complex of buildings. The botanical garden was dedicated in 1962 and was renamed Matthaei Botanical Gardens in 1967. Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum were combined as one unit within the university in 2004. The garden and arboretum celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2007. Today, a long-term master plan for the gardens continues to be executed.

Changes to the garden “In recent years, we have chosen to group most of our display gardens around our building complex, where we could make them accessible, protect them from deer (within a deer fence) and concentrate our maintenance activities. Surrounding these gardens is a network of trails along Fleming Creek and a mosaic of fields and wooded areas,” described Bob Grese, the Director. Also included are multiple display gardens, a labyrinth, children’s garden, and woodland wildflower garden. The progress continues. In 2013 the Bonsai and Penjing Garden officially opened. A collection of over 70 trees beginning in 1977 were mostly kept behind the scenes. As Grese explained, “Before the garden opened, we were able to display only a few trees at a time in the Temperate House of the conservatory. With the new garden we can display many more, with space left over for staff and volunteers to work on trees in view of the public and during events such as the annual Ann Arbor Bonsai Society Show and Sale held at Matthaei.” The difference between bonsai and penjing is a subtle one. Penjing predates bonsai and is Chinese. However, the Japanese popularized bonsai, especially in America. Both Asian terms relate to a miniature plant that is grown and artistically trained

The fruit of the chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao) contains seeds (cocoa beans) that are the source of chocolate. They are delicate understory plants that flourish in a band 20 degrees north and south of the equator. The seeds are very bitter and must be ground and sweetened before being edible.

Profile for Michigan Gardener

June 2015  

New Plants: New perennials for 2015 / Feature: Nature’s amazing seed dispersal strategies / Garden Visit: Matthaei Botanical Gardens / Profi...

June 2015  

New Plants: New perennials for 2015 / Feature: Nature’s amazing seed dispersal strategies / Garden Visit: Matthaei Botanical Gardens / Profi...