Not quite three years into their revival and restoration, the formal walled gardens at Untermyer Park in Yonkers are looking wonderful.
Early fall is a particularly good time to visit. The leaves on the stately old trees are beginning to color up and the summer annuals planted along the water channels and near the amphitheater are still vivid and lush.
Don’t miss the pair of century-old weeping beeches just inside the 18-foot-tall crenelated walls of the Persian Garden. Or the unbeatable, wide-open views of the Palisades across the Hudson.
The 200-foot-long mixed bed of perennials and shrubs on the western edge of the gardens is also looking great. Again, hard to believe it’s just a couple of years old.
Go soon, before a hard frost kills all the beautiful annuals and water is drained from the channels and fountains for the winter.
Timothy Tilghman, the full-time horticulturalist, is particularly good at putting together huge containers of tropical plants and you’ll find dozens of them scattered around the walled gardens.
In recent weeks, he has been ripping out more than 70 old shrubs along the lower terrace retaining wall. This cool climate with dappled shade will be the perfect spot for a long mixed border of hydrangeas.
Samuel Untermyer’s former 150-acre estate held one of the finest private gardens in the country in the early years of the 20th century.
In its heyday, this estate that was known as Greystone had 60 full-time gardeners and 60 greenhouses supplying plants for the gardens and the 29-room mansion. A flower show in the fall of 1939 drew 30,000 visitors to Greystone in a single day.
The Untermyer gardens were designed by William Welles Bosworth in 1916, a few years after he created the gardens for John D. Rockefeller Sr. at Kykuit in Pocantico Hills, in the same Beaux Arts style of landscape design. But Untermyer, a wealthy New York attorney, wanted something even bigger.
Since Untermyer’s death in 1940, these once-grand gardens have drifted into various stages of decay and outright ruin. In 2011, a nonprofit group called the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy hired Tilghman and began the long fight to bring the park and its gardens back to life.
IF YOU GO …
Address: Untermyer Park is at 945 N. Broadway in Yonkers, near St. John’s Riverside Hospital.
Hours: The Walled Persian Garden is open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to sunset year round (closed on holidays). On Sundays through October, it will be open from noon till dusk. The rest of the 43-acre park is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Tours: There are three remaining 90-minute tours scheduled for October: 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, 11 a.m. Oct. 19 and 2 p.m. Oct. 27. Meet in the parking lot, no reservations required. $10 dollar donation per person, children 12 and under free. Wear sturdy shoes. No dogs, strollers not recommended. The tour will be canceled in the event of heavy rain. Questions? Call 914-512-0436 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.