Humes Japanese Stroll Garden Tea House

After more than two years of negotiation, the North Shore Land Alliance has signed a contract to purchase the Humes Japanese Stroll Garden in Mill Neck from the Humes Japanese Stroll Garden Foundation.  This approximately seven-acre parcel, immediately adjacent to the 28-acre former Humes Estate (which the Land Alliance acquired in July of 2015), was conceived more than fifty years ago by Mr. and Mrs. John P. Humes and has been maintained by the Foundation since that time.

The Land Alliance purchased the Stroll Garden via a two-year mortgage extended by the Foundation with the intent of preserving the land on which the garden sits and continuing to operate it as a public garden.  Additionally, the acquisition of the Stroll Garden will complete a preserved assemblage of more than 150 acres of environmentally rich lands that include Shu Swamp Preserve and the Francis Pond conservation areas.

The garden, which has been closed for several months, is now open to the public.  Lisa Ott, Land Alliance President said, “While there is much to be done to maintain the garden, from installing deer fencing and repairing the greenhouse to rebuilding membership and a corps of active volunteers, we are thrilled that the Humes family has allowed us the opportunity to sustain this community treasure. This acquisition will ensure that the Humes Estate remain intact and be preserved and protected from development forever!” The Stroll Garden will, eventually, be joined with the Humes property to create a wonderful and varied outdoor experience.

Humes Japanese Stroll GardenThis unique and historic garden boasts an impressive collection of North American and Asian plants that constitute a beautiful Japanese landscape and impart a meditative experience.  The defining feature of the garden is its stepping stone path, inspired by the intimacy of a mountain trail.  A walk through the garden takes visitors through various twists and turns, including a “mountain peak,” before ending at the pondside teahouse.  The garden experience is heightened by use of native plants, open space and existing woodland: the old-growth trees determine the direction of the path, terracing minimizes erosion and the garden’s native woodland remains mostly intact.

Many thanks to all who have already contributed to this important acquisition.  The Land Alliance looks forward to welcoming the community to the Stroll Garden in the spring to celebrate this most exciting acquisition.  Until then, we could use some spare hands as well as donations of goods and services to keep the Stroll Garden open and maintained.

For more information and/or to help, please contact the Land Alliance at 516-922-1028.

Humes Japanese Stroll Garden History and Details

2017 After more than two years of negotiation, the North Shore Land Alliance purchases the Humes Garden.

2016 As part of our Digging Deeper series in Open Days, the Garden Conservancy presents several tea ceremonies at the garden, many of which sell out.

2014 The Humes Japanese Garden Foundation takes over management of the garden. The Garden Conservancy continues to help explore ways to preserve the garden as a public resource for its community.

2012 The garden’s tea house, beautifully restored by master craftsman Peter Wechsler thanks to a grant from the Peggy N. and Roger G. Gerry Charitable Trust, is dedicated at a special ceremony and named Chikufauan, Japanese for “bamboo wind tea house.”

2010 The Stroll Garden celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. Three years of funding is obtained from New York State‘s Zoos, Botanic Gardens and Aquariums fund for the ongoing care of the garden.

2009 Transfer of an additional parcel of land from the Humes family brings the Stroll Garden’s total acreage up to seven, of which four acres are under cultivation.

2001 With funds from the Freeman Foundation, the Stroll Garden begins its education outreach program to bring the Japanese garden into the classroom.

2000 Peter Wechsler constructs a new entrance gate from native Eastern red cedar, using traditional carpentry methods of the master temple builders of Japan.

2000 Mrs. Humes, the garden’s co-creator, bequeathes funds to bolster a diminishing endowment for the garden.

1998 Funds raised in 1997 allow for the rejuvenation of the waterfall, a key feature of the garden, and construction of a masonry wall to mitigate road noise. The New York Timesfeatures the garden, calling it a “Hidden Jewel.”

1997 Stroll Garden receives a challenge grant from the Japan World Exposition Commemorative Fund. The Garden Conservancy works with the Humes Foundation and the Friends of the Humes Japanese Stroll Garden to raise matching funds.

1993 With the garden struggling financially, the Garden Conservancy assumes management of the garden.

1985 John P. Humes dies and the management of the garden passes to the Humes Japanese Garden Foundation. The Japanese Stroll Garden opens to the public.

1982 Humes engages Stephen Morrell as curator to rehabilitate and expand the garden, and to facilitate its transition from a private to public garden.

1980 Humes forms the Humes Japanese Garden Foundation for the purposes of maintenance and preservation of the Stroll Garden.

1960 Lawyer John P. Humes (later Ambassador to Austria from 1969 to 1975) and his wife, Jean, visit Kyoto. Inspired by their visit, they spend the next 4 years transforming a wooded corner of their Mill Neck estate into a meditative Japanese landscape, including an imported tea house. They engage a Japanese landscape designer and his wife, Douglas and Joan DeFaya, to design and direct the installation of the original two-acre section of the garden.

Views, textures and compositional elements in the garden have been balanced according to Japanese aesthetic principles, immersing visitors in an idealized landscape inspired by a mountain setting by the sea. The defining feature of the garden is its stepping stone path, inspired by the intimacy of a mountain trail. A walk through the garden takes visitors through various twists and turns, including a “mountain peak,” before ending at the pondside-teahouse. This unique and historic garden also boasts an impressive collection of North American and Asian plants that constitute a beautiful Japanese landscape and impart a meditative experience.

Traditional Tea House and Garden - The Tea House (Cha-shitsu) was built for traditional tea ceremonies, is intentionally devoid of ornamentation and reflects harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. The design of the tea garden (roji) is restricted mostly to evergreen plants, creating a subdued, tranquil atmosphere.

Stone Water Basins (Tsukubai), have traditionally provided a place for guests to rinse their mouths and wash their hands in an act of purifying body and mind before entering the tea house.

The Koi-filled Pond is a central element and often represents real or mythical lakes or seas.

Stone Lanterns have been used as architectural ornaments contrasting agreeably with natural features and providing soft illumination in the evening. Usually, they are placed near water or along a curve in a path and represent love, brightness and protection from evil.

Stepping Stones (Tobi ishi) are symbolic of a path across a body of water and are used to control the rate at which one moves through the garden encouraging moment-to-moment reflection.

North American and Asian Plants

1. Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’)

2. Chinese bamboo (Phyllostachys nuda)

3. Native dogwood (Cornus florida)

4. American beech (Fagus grandifolia)

5. Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)

6. Dwarf Japanese skimmia (Skimmia japonica ‘Nana’)

7. Paperbark maple (Acer griseum)

8. Red oak (Quercus rubra)

9. Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia)

10. Japanese boxleaf holly (Ilex crenata ‘Convexa’)

11. Hinoki false cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’)

12. Weeping Higan cherry (Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’)

13. Kurume azalea (Rhododendron obtusum)

14. Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonica)

15. Katsura tree (Cercidyphyllum japonicum)

16. Tulip tree (Lirodendron tulipifera)

17. Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum)

18. Yellow groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata)

19. Black walnut (Juglans nigra)

20. Weeping katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Pendula)

21. Green threadleaf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Viridis’)

22. Sargents weeping hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘Pendula’)

23. Red maple (Acer rubrum)

24. Weeping willow (Salix babylonica)

25. Harry Lauder’s walking stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’)

26. Yakushima rhododendron (Rhododendron yakushimanum)

27. Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba)

28. Fragrant snowbell (Styrax obassia)

29. Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa var. chinensis)

30. Japanese white pine (Pinus parviflora)

31. Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

32. Japanese longstalk holly (Ilex pedunculosa)

33. Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergiana)

34. Rosebay rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum)


True address:
23 Dogwood Lane, Mill Neck

GPS address:
3 Dogwood Lane, Locust Valley

Hours of Operation

Contact the Land Alliance for more information.

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North Shore Land Alliance
P.O. Box 658
(516) 922-1028