The University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
Winter is a great time to take a stroll and appreciate the conifers along the trails at the Arb and Gardens. If you wish to avoid the chill of winter, stop into the Conservatory at the Gardens to experience the sights and smells of plants from all over the world.
Check out the bloom calendar.
study spots
Looking for a location to hold a group meeting? We have some of the University's best study spots.


Sitting area in the Conservatory at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Click here to view additional photos.

The Conservatory displays plants from three major life and climate zones—or "biomes"—around the world. Each biome has its own section, or "house" introduced below. Our living collections serve class and faculty use in a wide range of sciences and the arts. The plants are selected to represent:

  • important vegetation types in each biome

  • plant diversity through evolution

  • species or habitats at risk of extinction

  • human domesticates of special interest as medicinal or iconic plants

The Conservatory was opened in 1964. It is a commission by Alden B. Dow and is an exceptionally rare structure. It is believed to be the largest free-span (no supporting columns) Conservatory of its structural style and represents a technological limit of architectural materials and climatic controls in the era before computer models.

Extensive renovation of the Conservatory was made possible through the generous gifts of Robert and Marge Alpern. The Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust helped fund plant labeling and interpretive materials. If you would like to help support Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, please contact Gayle Steiner, our director of development.

Plant diversity is what this collection is all about. Revel in lush vegetation with great variation in plant and flower shape, size, color and texture... Culturally important plants from many of the world's great and ancient cultures are featured here... Bonsai (a Japanese tradition) and penjing (a Chinese tradition) are living works of art... Explore the world of plants from the tropics to the deserts. Bright flowers, unusual fruits, and seasonal displays are highlights of every trip...

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