Today I received an e-mail from Ace, a regular reader, too late to respond to him at work. So, at his suggestion, I'm responding here, in hope that he'll read my response in time to plan his second exploration of Staten Island's north shore this weekend; in this case, the Staten Island Botanical Garden at Snug Harbor Cultural Center.
Since I'm sending this at 6:06 pm on a Friday night, I'm going to post it on the blog as well, just in case you were planning an excursion this weekend (tho' I hear it's supposed to rain).
SIBG is a constituent organization within Snug Harbor Cultural Center, which has been established since the 1970s-1980s, an 80-acre landmark with the largest collection of early 19th century Greek Revival architecture in the United States. Because of the garden's relatively recent vintage, it's not remotely as large or as spectacular in its plantings and facilities as either the Brooklyn or Bronx gardens.
But that's not to say it doesn't have its charms. In addition to an open greenhouse, there are a variety of theme gardens, including a white garden, a scent garden, a really beautiful allee, the Chinese Scholars Garden ($5 admission--boo, hiss), and the memory garden (I think that's what it's called--re 9/11), a hillside pathway with rustic benches that winds down to a large pond.
While you're at Snug Harbor, you can also visit the gallery of the Art Lab, another constituent facility; the Newhouse Gallery, which used to be for contemporary art but is now having its mission redefined; and the John Noble Collection, which is devoted to a local artist who specialized in very strong paintings with maritime themes. There's also the Staten Island Children's Museum, so if you have pre-adolescents in your household, bring 'em!
Directions: Exiting the ferry terminal on Richmond Terrace, turn right and continue for 1 1/2-2 miles (not sure, but it'll be a snap for you, believe me) to the Snug Harbor gate--open daily, dawn to dusk. Or take the S40 bus and tell the driver to let you off at the gate. While you're here, check out the Snug Harbor ferry landing and adjacent shoreline path (funky but charming, even romantic).
Need help? Directions? A glass of water? Call me at 718-442-7846.