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Planting the seeds of stewardship

Not far off the beaten path, a beautiful gem lies waiting to be discovered.

The Hughson Arboretum and Gardens is a non-profit organization that was the vision of Margaret Sturtevant, supported by her husband Judd, as the longtime Hughson residents set aside a portion of their property to create the unique oasis. The Arboretum is at 2490 Euclid Ave., Hughson and is open dawn to dusk, seven days a week.

Judd and Margaret Sturtevant began farming at their Hughson ranch in 1943, originally growing peaches, walnuts and grapes. They also raised five children there.

Margaret was a dedicated community volunteer in Hughson and spent much of her time in service at local schools and as the unofficial historian for the community. She always had a vision to create a place for people to come and learn about trees and native plants, rest and relax, and build a connection with nature. She brought that vision to vivid fruition through the Hughson Arboretum and Gardens. Margaret passed away in January, 2016 at the age of 96.

The Arboretum was also created to give children a place to grow their knowledge of nature, whether it is through a field trip or just a walk with the whole family, out for an educational stroll.

It was in 1994 that a portion of the Sturtevant’s land that used to be the peach orchard was plowed down to begin the replanting process, with the area originally named the Hughson Botanical Gardens. Once officially becoming a nonprofit in 2009, the site was given the formal name of the Hughson Arboretum and Gardens.

Primary support for the non-profit organization is derived from an endowment from the Sturtevant family in addition to donations from visitors. The Arboretum can also be rented out, with a portion of the acreage suitable for events such as weddings, gender reveals and birthday parties.

There are some regularly scheduled special events staged at Hughson Arboretum and Gardens, with a popular Easter Egg Hunt each year and a Fall Festival the first week of November, this year with over 65 vendors anticipated.

Most recently, on June 25, board members, staff, supporters and guests gathered for a ribbon cutting to celebrate the newest addition to the property: Margaret’s Patio. The brick patio is surrounded by five Pink Magnolia trees, each representing one of Margaret and Judd Sturtevant’s children, with stone seating available as well.

The brick pavers in the center of the memorial patio are engraved with the names and/or sentiments of family and friends, and there are some perimeter bricks that are blank and ready for engraving. Space on those bricks is being sold for personal engraving; all information on the bricks can be found on the Arboretum website at:

Ten out of the 13 acres at the arboretum site are used just for the trees, flowers, and a recently added community herb garden, with the other three acres kept plowed down for elementary school students to come and plant wildflowers every year.

The new community herb garden showcases freshly grown herbs that anyone can come and snip off and take home. They only ask that you leave enough for everyone to come and enjoy, and leave enough stem for future plants to continue to grow. Currently the types of herbs that are available for picking are chives, basil, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Dill and tarragon are grown on site as well.

The gardens feature a wide variety of trees, most that are indigenous, creating a comfortable atmosphere for community members of all ages to come and learn more about nature.

The team for the Hughson Arboretum and Gardens includes 11 Board of Directors members, along with a Grounds Manager and a Groundskeeper. The volunteer board members bring a wide range of expertise with them, from arborists to architects, landscapers to designers.

Trees and flowers are constantly being planted by different groups in the community; for example, the garden club members in Hughson recently got together to plant a patch of irises and also return to pull weeds and keep that area neat and clean.

A variety of wildlife can be found on the Arboretum grounds including gophers, rabbits, and all kinds of birds. Dogs are welcome as long as they are kept on a leash, and people are welcome to bring in food and drinks as long as any trash is picked up. The land is gated all the way around with one main entrance/exit for vehicles.

For more information, the Arboretum can be contacted by email at

The staff and board members at the Hughson Arboretum and Gardens have a motto that – in honor of their founder, Margaret Sturtevant – they have lived by since day one: “Those who plant trees plant hope.”