YONKERS, NY — Every spring, there is something new to stimulate the senses at Untermyer Gardens, the 43-acre public park between North Broadway and Warburton Avenue, overlooking the Hudson River.
Since it was founded in 2011, the nonprofit Untermyer Gardens Conservancy has raised more than $6 million to restore the landmark site, starting with its unique features such the Temple of Love and the Indo-Persian Walled Garden.
This spring, the new attractions include a ruin garden, a rock and stream garden, a unicorn, and two four-legged additions to the staff of seven gardeners.
The ruin garden grows inside a roofless former gatehouse along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. Decades worth of graffiti remains on the walls of brick and stone. Below the building, the restored unicorn, which had been headless, bookends a staircase opposite a similar relief sculpture of a lion.
In the rock and stream garden, water tumbles 425 feet into a large pool, mixing with the water that falls from below the Temple of Love, which was restored two years ago.
In addition of the foliage, two new felines, less than a year old, now reside at the gardens. The male, Chenar (Persian for “sycamore”), and the female, Anar (Persian for “pomegranate”), were adopted by head gardener Timothy Tilghman. Both cats had been strays. Tilghman describes their role as “organic pest control.”
In its heyday, during the first half of the 20th century, Samuel Untermyer’s 150 acres, which were opened to the public, boasted 60 gardeners and 60 greenhouses. Prior to 2011, much of what remained of his estate was in disrepair. The City of Yonkers owns the park.
Enter Stephen Byrns, the architect who founded the conservancy. Spurred by his vision, and supported by the site’s staff and the conservancy’s donors, Untermyer Gardens again attracts thousands of visitors each year. For more info, visit the conservancy’s website and follow it on Facebook and Instagram.
Tim Lamorte is an award-winning journalist who has spent more than two decades documenting life along the Hudson River.