The Humes Japanese Stroll Garden, a seven-acre gem of landscape design and woodland, provides a retreat for passive recreation and contemplation. This special garden was created by Ambassador and Mrs. John P. Humes following a visit to Japan in 1960. Inspired by their visit, Ambassador Humes purchased the Tea House that still stands in the garden and hired Japanese-American landscape designer Douglas DeFay and his wife, Joan, to design the garden on their estate in Mill Neck. Over the next four years, the DeFays transformed two acres of rolling woodland on Long Island’s North Shore into a world-class Japanese stroll garden.
In 1981, Mr. Humes hired Stephen Morrell to rehabilitate the garden with the idea of opening it to the public. Mr. Morrell added a new entrance path featuring a collection of Japanese maples and Asian and native woodland wildflowers, increasing the size of the garden area to four acres. A wisteria arbor, bamboo groves and rocky shoreline were also added.
In 1986, the garden opened to the public, but after several years of operation it became clear that more resources were needed to secure its future. The Garden Conservancy assumed management of the garden in 1993. Through a challenge grant awarded in 1997 from the Japan World Exposition Commemorative Fund the garden’s ponds and waterfall were restored and a new masonry wall to buffer road sounds was constructed.
In 2017, North Shore Land Alliance purchased the garden from the Humes family for preservation purposes. The acquisition of this parcel completes a conservation corridor that stretches over 150 contiguous acres in the middle of the Beaver Brook watershed and effectively links the Stroll Garden and Humes property to Shu Swamp Preserve, Upper Francis Pond Preserve and the two Francis Ponds.