The North Shore Land Alliance has acquired the seven-acre Humes Japanese Stroll Garden in the Village of Mill Neck. The property is immediately adjacent to the recently acquired 28-acre former Humes property. The acquisition of this parcel completes a conservation corridor that stretches over 150 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.
The Japanese Stroll Garden was conceived more than fifty years ago by Mr. and Mrs. John P. Humes and has been owned and operated by the Humes Japanese Stroll Garden Foundation since that time. The Land Alliance purchased the Stroll Garden with the intent of preserving the land on which the garden sits and continuing to operate it as a public garden.
The 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.
Land Alliance staff, under the guidance of longtime Stroll Garden manager Mary Schmutz and a group of dedicated volunteers, have already begun work to reclaim and restore the garden, which was closed for most of 2016. Aside from routine garden maintenance, the Land Alliance plans to install a new deer fence, repair the existing wall around the garden and restore the existing greenhouse. Eventually the garden property will be incorporated into the larger Humes property, allowing visitors to walk from the Stroll Garden through Humes and on to Shu Swamp and Upper Francis Pond Preserve.
A special use permit must be obtained from the Village of Mill Neck before the garden can officially be open the garden to the public. Contributions and volunteers are welcome. For more information, call the office at 516-922-1028.