Dear Friends of Untermyer Gardens,
With winter officially over, we can look back on some of the progress we’ve made.
The long slope below the upper carriage trail switchback is infested with masses of invasive Japanese knotweed. The main switchback area is slowly becoming a wildflower meadow, and our plan is to continue it down the slope. This is much easier said than done, as knotweed is extremely difficult to remove. While goats are a currently popular strategy to eliminate it, eating the knotweed until it is so weak that it dies, we are going to try a similar maneuver: we will mow a section repeatedly, hoping for the same result.
To that end, the crew cleared a large area containing not only knotweed but the remains of many trees felled by Timothy in 2012. This massive project has revealed yet another potentially beautiful part of the garden. We can now see the source of some troublesome springs, which we hope one day to fashion into a beautiful bog or brook.
One of the few Facebook accounts I follow pertains to Historic Yonkers, and the other day it held a real jewel, an article from Gardeners’ Chronicle of America, August 1916. “Remodeling Greystone” described the construction of what we now call Untermyer Gardens at a cost of $1 million ($23,190,458 in 2019), involving 400 workers. Various areas were highlighted:
The Walled Garden: “A formal garden three or more acres in extent and of either Italian or Persian design is now in the making. This…layout will be surrounded by very high and ornate walls, and when completed will be a leading feature of interesting Greystone.” The Temple of Love: “A large Alpine rockery now in course of construction will in all probability eclipse anything of its kind in the Eastern States. Towering…above the ground…may be seen overhanging crags dominating a restful water basin below, which it is intended shall be fed by mysterious waterways and cascades from the rocky pile.” The view: “The project as so far developed affords the owner an extensive outlook to the Hudson River and the world-famous Palisades.” Mention was made of rhododendrons, which we intend to evoke this summer in the construction of the new Rhododendron Walk: “The replanting of some twenty to thirty thousand Rhododendrons was done last spring.” It concludes with a photograph of a large maple being moved.
Stephen F. Byrns
President, Untermyer Gardens Conservancy