From private to public treasure
In 1969, John Humes was appointed ambassador to Austria, where he and his family lived until 1975. During this time, the garden was overrun by invasive plants. In 1978, encouraged by landscape designer Francois Goffinet, Humes began to explore the idea of not only restoring the garden but opening it to the public.
At this time, Humes met Stephen Morrell, a student at the New York Botanical Garden interested in Japanese gardens, and hired him to develop the garden further. Morrell felt that the garden’s virtue was in its relationship to the Japanese stroll garden style, and used the principles of this traditional form of Japanese garden as a focus for its future development. By highlighting the garden’s forest setting, editing down junipers, pines and spruces that seemed inappropriate to the woodland, and enhancing the site with seed-grown Japanese maples planted in random groupings along the path so that they appeared to be part of the native flora, Morrell developed an aesthetic for the garden that was not only true to the style of Japanese gardening but to the site itself. This signature melding of native flora with that of Japan and the combination of Japanese garden traditions with a sense of the native landscape defines the Humes garden, and adds to the garden’s significance.
The garden opened to the public in the spring of 1985. John Humes passed away that autumn; leaving his wonderful gift of the garden for all to enjoy.