The Union | Tom Durkin| April 7, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic can’t stop spring. Flowers are blossoming and trees are leafing out and blooming.

In these times of high stress and isolation, mental health experts recommend getting back in touch with the beauty and serenity of nature – as long as you stay socially distant from other people.
The Springtime at Ananda tour of the spectacular Crystal Hermitage tulip gardens has been canceled due to the pandemic. Disappointed but undeterred, Ananda is providing almost-daily virtual tours of the gardens throughout the tulip bloom this month.

There will be no tour guide for this year’s Walking Tour of Nevada City Trees, but the self-guided tour is still on.


“Springtime at Ananda is a highlight of our year,” said Lalita, manager of the Crystal Hermitage and a member of the spiritual community. “We will lose a fair amount of money, but we do miss the opportunity to share Crystal Hermitage with our guests.”

Swami Kriyananda, a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, founded Ananda Village in 1968. It occupies approximately 700 acres. The self-contained community is currently in self-isolation and closed to the public because of the pandemic.

In recent years, approximately 13,000 people gave $8 donations to stroll through the upper and lower gardens at the Crystal Hermitage, which was Kriyananda’s home, Lalita said.

Each year, four part-time gardeners and small groups of volunteers plant and tend 17,000 tulip bulbs and 5,000 bedding flowers (pansies and forget-me-nots). Early-, mid- and late-blooming tulip varieties are planned to be an ever-changing show throughout late March, April and early May, Lalita said.

While there’s no substitute for being there, the Springtime at Ananda team intends to post frequent video updates on their Tulip Watch website and maintain a heavy presence on Facebook and Instagram, reported Mai, marketing manager for the hermitage.

Three times a week, Barbara Bingham and Kent Williams will be recording new videos of the tulips and other garden flowers and blossoming trees, Mai said.

Lalita and Mai revealed gardener Greg Traymar and school teacher Nirani Moorhouse will be leading live online meditations during the Virtual Springtime at Ananda. This will include meditations for children.

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