Secluded in the back roads of North Salem is a small taste of Japanese culture right here in Westchester County. The Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden is a hidden treasure of beauty that aims to connect and promote an appreciation of Eastern and Western culture. My kids both visited the Hammond Museum on school trips after studying Japan. Last summer, I enlisted my daughter to accompany me on my first visit. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to post about our visit to the Hammond Museum until now.
“But what’s the use of having collections if people can’t see them?” – Natalie Hays Hammond
When you arrive you enter the gardens through the museum. The museum was designed by Natalie Hays Hammond and built in 1957 to showcase her collection of antiques and artifacts that she acquired through her travels. The art in the galleries change several times over the eight months that the museum is open.
We were able to see artist, Rosalind Schneider’s, Transformed Realities exhibit, just before it closed. Currently art exhibits in the galleries are closing mid-June, with new, yet unannounced exhibits replacing them. Full Bloom, Sculpture in the Garden is on display for the entirety of the season.
Through the gallery is the entrance to the gardens. I don’t believe that there’s one way to visit the Japanese Stroll Gardens. Once you pass through the tea house entry you can go either right or left. The garden path is circular, so whichever direction you choose, you will eventually make your way back to the tea house. The gardens are designed with the Japanese design principles of balance and harmony. Balance, in a Japanese garden, is asymmetrical and you will find odd-numbered and triangular groupings.
To the right of entry is the Zen Garden. Also known as karesansui (dry mountain water). Rakes are available for visitors to create patterns in the rocks.
If you continue on the path to the right you will see the pond to your left and the Katsura Trees and Bamboo Grove on your right. Bamboo is important to Eastern culture. From food, to paper, furniture and even planking for houses, the bamboo plant is highly useful. However, some species are used for ornamental purposes in landscape gardens, like the ones here.
To the left of the entry is the waterfall garden. This is a tiny waterfall that is almost hidden by all of the ferns and mountain laurel. The water flows from east to west, shadowing the sun’s path.
Straight ahead of the entry is the pond. I recommend taking some time to sit on the benches by the pond and enjoy the peacefulness and beauty. If you look closely, you may be able to spot one of the ten turtles that inhabit the pond. Listen and you will probably hear the frogs croaking. The day of our visit the staff was prepping for a wedding later that day. So we didn’t walk out to the island.
There are a couple of different statues and sculptures located throughout the gardens and this beautiful gong.
Off one of the garden paths you will find The Garden of Buddhist Saints. These are sixteen stones that honor the enlightened followers of Buddha.
There is much more beauty and nature to be found at the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden, than what I showcased here. If you are looking for some peace and tranquility, this is a place that you must visit.
Hammon Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden
28 Deveau Road
North Salem, NY 10560
Hours: Open May – November (see website for specific dates)
Wednesday – Saturday 12 PM – 4 PM
Admission: $5/adults, $4/seniors, Free/Children 12 and under. Free for members.
Parking: Free parking available on the grounds
Tips and Notes:
*As a first-time visitor, my daughter and I spent approximately an hour visiting the museum and garden.
*If you have some time, bring a book and sit on a bench by the pond.