Snug Harbor is an iconic cultural and historical facility on 83 acres of land in Staten Island, New York. It hosts programs in arts, agriculture, horticulture, education, and recreation for all ages and cultures. Snug Harbor was founded in 1801 when Robert Richard Randall an heir to a shipping fortune died. In his will he wished the family riches to be used to build a sanctuary for old, feeble, and dejected sailors. Originally there were three buildings, but today there are twenty-eight. There is also a 2.5-acre urban farm, wetlands and parkland, and ten unique botanical gardens below.
The Botanical Gardens
Over 100 roses varieties are grown in this serene Rose Garden. The roses have different colors and scents that sort of set a romantic stage for lovers. There are also places to sit and catch up with friends, stroll or read a book. Admission is free.
Plants grown at Perennial Garden were meticulously selected to nearly bloom all year. By nature perennial plants don't bloom all season, but their blooming season starts at two weeks, two months or longer. Of all the gardens here the Perennial Garden is the first that blooms during spring. Admission is free.
The White Garden's design was inspired by the famous Sissinghurst Castle Garden in England. The plants here are gray-green foliage or pure white blossoms like white roses, irises, lilies, snowdrops, and hellebores. The boundaries of the White Garden are dotted with Grey Lattices. Admission is free.
Allée French for avenue has 120 upright and dense hornbeam trees curved inwards and supported by a frame. The trees were curved, tied, and interlaced as juvenile shoots, a popular and beautiful French and Italian gardening technique. Admission is free at this very popular selfie spot.
The one acre Healing Garden is a memorial for 267 Staten Island residents that died on September 11, 2001, attacks. It's on a forested hillside and overlooks the wetlands. The Healing Garden's paths have a canopy, hardwood, and understory trees like red oak, cherry, silver maple, sassafras, and Norway maple. There are memorial benches nestled in the shrubs and perennial plants. The Healing Garden also has a wall of remembrance with four cast-iron faces in ancient Roman Grotesque Style with water flowing from them and representing the cycle of life.
Richmond County Savings Foundation (RCSF) Tuscan Garden
Modeled after the famed Villa Gamberaia in Italy this garden has water fountains, a topiary, landscaped terraces, and period plantings like olive and lemon trees in a layout of early Renaissance architectural layout. It also houses tropical plants during overwintering in the off-season. This scenic garden also hosts special events in summer, autumn and spring. The green amphitheater stages outdoor private and public programs and weddings. Admission is free.
Connie Gretz Secret Garden
Connie Gretz Secret Garden is over half an acre in size. This brick-walled garden has three towers, a shrub maze leading to another enclosure, at the center of the garden with benches, vegetation and flowers. It was created to honor Connie Gretz who died of the rare spindle-cell cancer, and it took 4 years to complete in 2000 and admission is free.
Carl Grillo Glass House
In this 2,800-square-foot greenhouse, unique and beautiful plants are propagated and exhibited. This enclosure has a three-zone heating system were arid, tropical, and temperate conditions are created for unique horticultural ecosystems there. Tours to Carl Grillo Glass House are announced on the Snug Harbor Facebook page.
New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden (NYCSG)
Visitors to NYCSG see different Chinese gardens themed on Ming Dynasty gardens (1368-1644 AD). Roof, floor tiles, beams, columns, doors, windows, bridges, and pavings materials were fabricated in Suzhou China. Rocks resembling mountains that inspired poetry and paintings of Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian monks are there too. Visitors also explore eight pavilions, bamboo forest paths, waterfalls, Koi ponds, Chinese calligraphy, and varied Gongshi scholar rocks, including a 15-foot tower. The garden components were created by 40 Chinese artists and craftsmen in both China and Staten Island. NYCSG general admission tickets cost $5 and can be bought here. Hours depend on the season but are posted on the Snug Harbor website.
What Else To See Or Do At Snug Harbor?
- Heritage Farm: The 2.5-acre educational farm produces fresh food for the local community and visitors also learn sustainable low till farming practices to build soil health.
- NYC Compost Project: Visitors learn to compost food scraps through the classes and workshops hosted there.
- Spring Plant Sale: Visitors to Snug Harbor buy many plant species propagated at the facility with some plants discounted for members.
- Snug Harbor Tours: Tours are available even during winter for visitors to explore Snug Harbor to learn its history and the plant species there.
- Visual and Performing Arts: Arts exhibitions and events are hosted at different times of the year and visitors see them.