A vision of paradise in Yonkers

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Landscapist William Welles Bosworth modeled the Untermyer Gardens’ Walled Garden to look like the biblical Garden of Eden. A visit to the facility at 945 N. Broadway in Yonkers makes a strong case that the designer achieved his goal.

Approaching the Walled Garden, a door offers a small glimpse of the beauty inside.

“When you walk through those gates, you’re walking through the gates of paradise,” said the Untermyer Gardens’ Chairman Stephen Byrns, who lives in Riverdale.

Once inside, two massive weeping beech trees create a relaxing shade, with the branches reaching low to the ground. Four long, rectangular ponds with fountains cross each other at the center of the garden. Mr. Byrns said the ponds are styled after the four rivers of paradise. 

He explained that Bosworth organized the garden’s walls and quadrants in keeping with Indo-Persian style.

“If you go to the Taj Mahal, you’ll see the exact same layout,” he said.

At the edge of the Walled Garden, there is a magnificent set of stairs that end in a viewing platform called the Overlook. Offering sweeping views of the Hudson River and the Palisades, the Overlook is decked with two huge monolithic columns. The structures were carved from a single piece of stone.

“They are the greatest ancient columns in the western hemisphere,” Mr. Byrns declared.

Restoration in progress

Gardeners are still restoring the Vista, which leads to the Overlook, planting cypress and other plants to line the walkway. The Vista fell into disrepair with the rest of the garden when the city of Yonkers couldn’t afford to maintain it after the death of the original owner, Samuel Untermyer, in 1940. The Untermyr Gardens Conservancy was founded four years ago to raise money to bring it back to life. Mr. Byrns said after workers complete work on the Vista [WHEN?], they will turn their attention to other neglected parts of the garden. 

Even though it’s far from finished, Mr. Byrns still recommends checking out the full grounds. 

“This is great for kids because they can go explore it like a hidden ruined world,” he said. “It’s very secret and mysterious.”

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