Reporter: Joanne Skelly

I just returned from visiting beautiful gardens filled with amazing tulips, pansies, flowering cherry trees and many other lovely blooms. They’re the Crystal Hermitage Gardens, located on the outskirts of Nevada City. They were recently chosen one of the 14 most beautiful gardens in the West by AAA, a well-deserved accolade. Every spring, when the 17,000 tulips bloom, they host Springtime at Ananda to share the beauty of the gardens with all.

April visits are magical with not only the vibrant tulips, but also the complementary colors of wisteria, dogwood, azaleas, rhododendrons, peonies, forget-me-nots and daphnes.

The gardens are terraced and overlook spectacular vistas down to the Yuba River Canyon. There are 90 different Dutch varieties of tulips, newly planted every fall. The many-hued varieties range from traditional tulips to multi-petaled ones that look like peonies. There are parrot tulips with their fringed, often curling petals. Lily-flowering tulips have an indented “waist” and pointed tips that flare outwards. Colors range from butter yellow, hot pink streaked with orange, purple, whites, greens and so many combinations. I was astounded at the size of the flowers and leaves and the height of the plants overall.

I loved the sound of flowing water in the various pools and waterways throughout the gardens. Camellia blossoms floated in one pool. Chartreuse moss covered damp stones of the terrace walls near little waterfalls and seeps. Statues made interesting focal points in various parts of the gardens. I’m a big fan of pansies and Johnny-jump-ups with their happy faces and wide variety of colors. They were planted under the tulips in many of the beds, visually anchoring the tall blooms.

The Crystal Hermitage Gardens at Ananda Village are open to the public all year long, offering tranquil venues for weddings, receptions and workshops. The Spring Open House celebration lasts all April, but visitors during summer months won’t be disappointed. The summer garden peaks in late July and August with terraces of lush dahlias, begonias, zinnias, geraniums, marigolds and petunias.

In the cooler fall season, dahlias, pansies and roses still bloom among the radiance of brilliant fall foliage of stunning Japanese maples.

Every visit to the garden is wonderfully peaceful and uplifting. The upper gardens are open by donation every day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The lower gardens are open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment. Call 530/478-7587 or visit

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at

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