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An Oasis For Harmony And Peace: A Visit To New York Chinese Scholar's Garden

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - For a relaxing escape from daily stress, you don't need a plane ticket. Just take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

You'll find waterfalls and foliage to soothe your senses at the New York Chinese Scholar's Garden, located in Staten Island's Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.

WEB EXTRA: Guide To NYC's Best Botanical Gardens

"It's generally modeled after the Ming dynasty," said Snug Harbor lead educator Puiyan Taglianetti.

"A scholar's garden was built for scholars, by scholars, and this was a place they could go to to do calligraphy, to do poetry," she said.

The first classical scholar's garden built in the United States, the New York Chinese Scholar's Garden opened in 1999.

"We get people who are from mainland China saying this is how you're supposed to experience a Chinese scholar's garden," she said.

The garden is built from Chinese materials, including rocks brought from Lake Tai in the Yangtze Delta.

"The rocks are meant to evoke a sense of the [mountains] that you would see in China because the mountains were the dwelling place of the gods," she said.

A scholar's garden is a place to get in touch with your senses.

"When you're walking, you have to slow down to go on the different turns, to go up and down in different elevations, take in the nature around you, have a little bit of patience," she said.

The goal of the garden is to bring a sense of calm to its visitors.

"You can even see amongst the students that come to us. A lot of times, they're really excited, and they're talkative, and they're antsy just to be outside, and as soon as we walk in, you can see their eyes get big, and they're like 'Whoa.' And that's the moment that you can use to capture their attention and to focus them on just being with the nature," she said.

At the scholar's garden, the potential for learning goes beyond flora and fauna.

"If you look at our garden, there are so many things that are vastly different but yet create this beautiful, peaceful place that we have. So if there's anything that should be taken away from a Chinese scholar's garden, it should really be how we can look within ourselves, with things that might seem . . . completely opposing with us, [and] we can find a way to work with it," she said.

"We can work with everything that's around us to create more of a sense of harmony and peace."

New York Chinese Scholar's Garden
1000 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY 10301
(718) 425-3504

What's something few people know about but everybody should? Whatever it is, Elle McLogan is tracking it down on The Dig. Join her hunt for treasures hidden across our area. Follow Elle on Twitter and Instagram.

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