Along with four wonderful old homes, this year’s Park Hill House and Garden Tour will feature two tucked-away private gardens in this hilltop enclave in southwest Yonkers. Both are good examples of what to do with a difficult site dominated by rock and slope.
Last week, we looked at the four private homes that will be open on SundayMay 19 as part of the 14th Park Hill House and Garden Tour (go to lohud.com and search for Park Hill and it will come right up). This week, we’re focusing on the two gardens.
Most of Linda and Jay Bryant’s terraced backyard garden is hidden behind their handsome 1912 Georgian Colonial (the house was on the tour a few years ago). They have one of the best views of the Hudson and the Palisades across the river in all of Park Hill, and the new garden was designed to take advantage of their great view.
Three years ago, they re-landscaped the whole front of the property, adding several hemlock trees, azaleas, heuchera, junipers and lots of spring-blooming bulbs. And then two years ago, using landscaper Joe Yedowitz, they tackled the hilly back yard, most of which was too steep to be usable.
At Linda’s insistence, Yedowitz was able to keep pushing out the back yard, ultimately reclaiming 14 feet of hillside to create a large flat lawn that’s a perfect play space for the Bryants’ two boys.
To anchor it all in, Yedowitz built a 78-foot-long stone retaining wall that’s 8 feet tall. “It’s shot concrete covered in stone,” Linda explains. “This will be here for 100 years, unless somebody takes a wrecking ball to it.”
And then they set about creating a vertical garden and living space.
(photos and video by Mark Vergari)
From the back door, it keeps going up, through a series of stone retaining walls, bluestone walkways and planting beds that lead to roomy yet cozy seating and dining areas. Be sure to climb all the way to the top to take in the view — and admire the irises, hydrangeas, lilacs, white birches, rhododendrons and willows. A majestic oak tree serves as the centerpiece for the whole garden, which also features two koi ponds connected by a waterfall.
Amazingly, all of the material had to be moved around the site by hand because there was no room to bring in any excavating machinery. Most of the rock that you now see in the walls and pathways came from the site. “Seventy percent of it was in the hill,” Bryant says.
“We love this space,” she says. “We use it almost every day. The boys play soccer on the lawn, and it’s this little hidden thing, a tucked-away space that no one knows about.”
Joyce and Neil Sullivan’s new cliff-side garden will also be open on SundayMay 19. They’ve lived in Park Hill since 1986 and then last year bought two empty lots next door to create an expansive perennial and shrub garden atop an imposing rock outcropping that’s all you see from the street. “We both love to garden and just thought, let’s do it,” Joyce says.
At the time, that giant rock was so covered with vines that you didn’t even know what lay underneath. Now the handsome and prehistoric-looking outcropping dominates their whole corner.
For design and landscaping help, the Sullivans turned to Kate Goodspeed, who is based in Cornwall, N.Y.
It was her idea to create a meadow-like garden out of a formerly impenetrable and overgrown empty lot. This is only the second year for the plantings — bleeding heart, Spanish bluebells, hydrangea, andromeda, alliums, azaleas and clematis — but it’s easy to see what a great garden this will be in a few years.
IF YOU GO
What: 2013 Park Hill House and Garden Tour, sponsored by the Park Hill Residents’ Association
When: 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. May 19, rain or shine, self guided
1 and 2:30 p.m.: Historical Lecture, with Wall Street Journal critic Barrymore Laurence Scherer and photographer Michelle JacobsJabobs, multimedia presentation on the celebrities who have lived in Park Hill
2:30: Park Hill Walking Tour, with architect and tour founder Steve Byrns, highlighting homes in the neighborhood
3:30: Grand Old Trees Tour, with arborist Robert Whitney and Howie Waldman, Fieldston School biologist
Where: Four private homes and two gardens in the Park Hill neighborhood of Yonkers. All tours begin at the Host Area at the Racquet Club, at Lakeside Drive and Van Cortlandt Park Avenue. Refreshments, a raffle and tours of the Racquet Club will be available there throughout the day. Follow the tour on Twitter: #ParkHillHG13.
Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 day of tour; all proceeds benefit the Yonkers Land Conservancy. Go to www.yonkerslandconservancy.org for more information and advance tickets.