The beauty of the 120-acre Hastings College campus is due in part to the tradition of tree planting and care beginning with the first spring planting season in 1883 and, with the help of countless volunteers and professionals, continuing to the present. Come explore the Hastings College Arboretum, rich with old and young trees and species variety, located in the heart of the Great Plains.

Japanese Garden 17w
The Japanese Friendship Garden was installed in 1996.

A unique feature of the Hastings College Arboretum was created in 1996 when the Japanese Friendship Garden was installed in the courtyard on the east side of Hazelrigg Student Union. The student union lobby over looks the garden, which was sponsored by the Hastings/Arapahoe/Ozu, Japan International Exchange Program.

There is also a Rain Garden near the Morrison-Reeves Science Center, which is a green building designed to meet high sustainability standards — and one of the goals is the wise use of water. The Rain Garden helps protect water quality by capturing much of the rainwater from the building’s roof and grounds and filtering out potentially harmful pollutants. It incorporates native plants, like goldenrod, coneflowers, viburnum and more, to provide a unique and beautiful landscape with optimal seasonal appeal and butterfly habitat.

Arboretum History
To learn more about the Hastings College Arboretum, view our Arboretum History webpage.

Contact Information
If you or a group would like a tour of the arboretum, or have suggestions, please contact Dr. Will Locke ’61, Professor Emeritus of Teacher Education, at

Become an Arboretum Sponsor

The Arboretum not only provides beauty to our campus through a well-planned tree, shrub, floral, and native grass planting program, it provides wonderful educational and service-learning opportunities for our students and our professors. Learn about sponsorship opportunities to ensure the planning and care of campus.

Legacy Trees

Individuals, families, and organizations with a special interest in Hastings College are invited to sponsor the planting of a tree in memory of or in honor of a person or group. Trees serve as a living tribute to individuals or groups while they contribute to the beauty and tradition of the HC Arboretum. Hundreds of trees were planted in April 1883, in connection with groundbreaking for McCormick Hall, the first permanent campus building. View a full listing of all the Legacy Trees on campus by clicking here.

Your tax deductible gift of $500 will be used to purchase and plant a tree which will honor and remember an individual or group, enrich the environment, and add to the beauty of the campus. The trees will be planted and cared for by HC groundskeepers with the assistance of volunteers. 

  1. General Information and Requirements Recommended species for a tribute tree:
    • Large shade trees: Oak (many varieties), Maple (many varieties), Linden, Honey Locust, hybrid American Elm, Kentucky Coffeetree, Northern Catalpa, River Birch, Ginkgo, Tulip tree (yellow poplar)
    • Evergreens: Colorado Blue Spruce, Concolor Fir, Douglas Fir
    • Understory trees: Crabapple, Hawthorne, Redbud, Mountain Ash
  2. Locations: HC will choose a location or suggest a list of location choices for you.
  3. This cost provides for a deciduous tree that is approximately 1–2” caliper or a conifer that is 5’ tall, a 4” x 6” sign post, and a 3” x 5” sign plaque and stainless steel screws. The plaques are purchased through the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum so there is uniformity throughout the state. Participants receive a photo, certificate, and letter acknowledgement for donation.
  4. Hastings College will purchase and plant the tree. Contributors are encouraged to attend the planting. The College needs a reasonable amount of time to arrange for a planting and it is a seasonal activity with the best planting times being April – early June and September – early November.
  5. Every effort is made to avoid damaging or moving trees, but sometimes new construction, maintenance activities, disease, and storms result in traumatic damage, death, or the need to move a tree. If such problems occur, the College will transplant the tree or replant at another suitable location one time.