Shore Park and Parkway
Narrows Botanical Gardens
A small patch of land within the 58-acre Shore Road Park, Narrows Botanical Gardens was formerly an overlooked area of parkland. Today the gardens thrive, enriching the lives of nearby residents. The reclamation of Narrows Botanical Gardens is an example of an important recent trend in park management: community involvement. These gardens have been improved as a result of the sustained efforts of many concerned local residents.
The transformation of Narrows Botanical Gardens began in 1995, when neighbors organized to clear the land, removing garbage and weeds. To prepare for plantings, wood chips were spread across the ground. Local nurseries donated plants and shrubs, which were watered with hoses supplied by the Fire Department. As members of the community began to recognize the results achieved by the reclamation effort, more people asked to contribute. Official memberships were offered after the group received non-profit status. In 1997, Parks recognized the efforts of these residents when the gardens received their current name.
The Narrows Botanical Gardens are named for the nearby Narrows, which can be seen from the park. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge, also visible from the gardens, spans this waterway to connect Staten Island with Brooklyn. Named for Giovanni da Verrazano (1485-1528), the first European to explore New York Harbor, it is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. During bridge construction, many Bay Ridge families were forced to relocate. When the bridge opened in 1964, it provided the shortest available route from areas south of the city to Long Island and allowed Staten Island to experience a period of rapid growth. Narrows Botanical Gardens also affords a view of the Statue of Liberty, France’s 1886 landmark gift to the United States commemorating liberty and friendship between the countries.
The gardens in this park are meant to satisfy the senses with colorful flowers, aromatic plants, and singing birds. The Native Plant Garden contains local flora, such as plants and trees, as well as a waterfall, stream, bog, and pond that provide for fish, toads, frogs, and turtles. The fragrance garden contains shrubs, lilies, honeysuckle, sage, mint, and mock orange, creating different aromas throughout the year. The moon garden contains white and silver flowers that reflect the moon’s light. A butterfly garden uses milkweed plants (Asclepias) to attract migrating monarchs. Narrows Botanical Gardens also contains two rose gardens and a Japanese Zen rock garden where residents can go to meditate. In addition to these gardens, the park contains many other natural settings, such as a lily pond, redwood (Sequoia) groves, a linden (Tilia) tree alley, and tree arboretums.
While using nature to stimulate the senses of park visitors, Narrows Botanical Gardens also strives to educate the public and promote the arts. The park hosts concerts, art shows, and other performances designed to enrich the lives of local residents. The annual Art in the Park festival, which takes place in the spring, allows local artists to display their works while children create their own. Concerts are held throughout the summer. The Harvest Festival, held annually in October, features a popular canine costume contest. The revitalized Narrows Botanical Gardens continue to enrich the surrounding community due to the ongoing dedication of local residents.
Directions to Shore Park and Parkway
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