In a recent post (Upcoming visit to Untermeyr Park) I mentioned that I would be going back to Untermeyr Gardens after more than four years. We went with a friend who lives in nearby Hastings-on-Hudson. The weather was not supposed to be good (showers and thunderstorms) but it turned out that the forecast was wrong (what a surprise!) and we had glorious sunny weather.

The garden’s website provides the following overview:

The Untermyer Gardens Conservancy is a non-profit organization which is collaborating with the City of Yonkers to facilitate the restoration of Samuel Untermyer’s gardens in Yonkers, New York. Untermyer Park and Gardens is a City of Yonkers public park.

In 1899 Samuel Untermyer purchased Greystone, the former estate of Samuel Tilden. In the forty one years Untermyer owned Greystone, he transformed the gardens and greenhouses into some of the most celebrated gardens in America. After expanding the estate through property purchases to the north and east of the original estate, he hired Beaux Arts architect Welles Bosworth to design gardens around 1916. These gardens sprawled over 150 acres overlooking the Hudson River and were maintained by 60 gardeners and supplied by 60 greenhouses. It was open to the public on a weekly basis during the 1920’s and ’30’s and for special events, including displays of his famous chrysanthemums and tulips. Thirty-thousand people visited it on one day in 1939.

Upon his death, the gardens were left in limbo while the estate was settled and a plan to care for the gardens determined. A core part of the gardens was acquired by the City of Yonkers in 1946 . In the 1990’s, another parcel was acquired, bringing the total today to 43 acres. While the core is intact, much of the gardens are in ruin.

The park had changed quite a bit since I was last there. First, my previous visit had been in Winter so nothing was in bloom. Now spectacular blossoms were everywhere. Before, the pools, which are such an important part of the gardens were empty. Now they glittered in the sunlight and the fountains were running. Second, there had been significant renovations since my previous visit. Portions of the gardens that had been in ruins have now been restored (not everything has been completed yet, but they’ve done a great job so far). Finally, I was able to visit an area (Marked ‘Vista’ and ‘Vista Overlook’ on the above map) that I had missed the last time I was there. We decided to take the tour (1.5 hours for $20) and it was well worth it as the guide was extremely knowledgeable.

We had thought to go to lunch at Harvest-on-Hudson, but it turned out that it doesn’t open until 4:00pm on Sundays so instead we went to Maud’s Tavern.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the visit it wasn’t really the best time of day for taking pictures: 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. It was a very bright sunny day and the light was extremely contrasty. The lens I was using (Sigma AF 30mm f/2.8 EX DN) was also very contrasty, which added to the problem. Maybe I’ll go back again sometime at a time when the light can be expected to be better.

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