Dear Friends of Untermyer Gardens,
During this time of year, some of our tasks are decidedly unglamorous. Such is the case at the wooded and rocky area that surrounds our new parking lot. Our gardener Drew Schuyler spent some productive time cutting down invasive Norway maples, the bane of our forests and yards. These thuggish trees with shallow roots and overly dense shade discourage other native plants from growing beneath them. This area is next to the copse located near the entrance gate, previously mentioned in an earlier newsletter, which we plan to fill with native plants this year.
Samuel Untermyer was not the first heroic Samuel to reside at Greystone, as the property was known at the time. He bought it from the estate of Samuel Tilden, a former governor of New York and a founder of the New York Public Library. There is much talk these days about the election of 1876, in which Tilden won the popular vote for president but was denied the presidency by the Electoral College. His obituary stated that he “nobly sacrificed ambition to save his country from a destructive and ruinous agitation and perhaps from a second civil war.” In doing so, he withdrew from political life and became known as the Sage of Greystone, where he lived for the remainder of his days. His funeral was held here in 1886, and in attendance were the president, his Cabinet, and the governor of New York. The press reported that “a thousand people stood with uncovered heads in the rain while the casket was placed in the hearse,” such was the respect accorded to so great a man. After Tilden’s steam yacht on the river blasted a cannon salute to him, the funeral party boarded a private train that took them to New Lebanon, some 125 miles distant, for the interment and then returned to New York City the same day.
Toby's new book, Garden: Elements and Styles, is a compendium of more than 200 garden elements, styles, features, and ornaments, lavishly illustrated with stunning photos. You may purchase the book from the publisher's webstore.
Stephen F. Byrns
President, Untermyer Gardens Conservancy