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History and Mission

Buz Brenton plants a red oak tree at the arboretum dedication.

Founder Buz Brenton’s passion for trees ignited when his older sister, Jane Brenton Eddy, gave him The Book of Trees by William Carey Grimm. Over time, the entire Brenton family’s interest and enthusiasm grew into the dream of creating an arboretum where others could enjoy trees and the natural world.

The dream became reality in the spring of 1997 when the first trees were planted at the 140-acre, non-profit arboretum. The land is part of the original homestead acquired by Dr. James Brenton and his son, William Henry, soon after they arrived in Iowa from Indiana in 1853 by covered wagon.

The arboretum’s master plan was designed by Anthony Tyznik, former landscape architect at the Morton Arboretum near Chicago.

Left to right: Sue Brenton, Buz Brenton, and Anthony Tyznik

The design features tree collections in the context of sweeping vistas of native prairie. Most of the tree and shrub collections are grouped by species to allow direct comparisons. The prairie elements include native grasses, including buffalograss, blue grama, little bluestem, and sideoats grama and native wildflowers.

The arboretum includes an ever-expanding collection of more than 2,200 trees and shrubs representing 468 species, hybrids and cultivars.


The mission of the Brenton Arboretum is to bring joy to all through the beauty and knowledge of the natural world of trees. The arboretum conveys the importance of woody plants as a place of quiet enjoyment,education, conservation, research and demonstration.