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California travel

Tulip Gardens at Crystal Hermitage

Water cascading down a rock wall at Crystal Hermitage, with many colorful tulips in the foreground.
Water cascading down a rock wall, warm sun and beautiful flowers create a peaceful setting for meditation.

As part of a photography group, I recently visited the tulip gardens at Crystal Hermitage, which is part of the Ananda community located about 15 miles northeast from Nevada City (California) in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

While my initial fear was that the gardens were inaccessible to wheelchair users or people with mobility challenges (due to the many sets of stairs used to access the garden terraces) I’m glad to say I was wrong!

Ask the Gardener

I spoke with Kerry, who has spent more than 30 years working in the gardens. He told me that his wife, Nancy, is responsible for most of the design, and that they and many members of the Ananda community work joyfully to maintain its beauty.

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible
Some of the over 17,000 bulbs planted this year.

When I inquired about accessibility, Kerry walked with me to show me all of the ways a wheelchair user could access and enjoy the gardens. While there are a few places that can only be reached by stairs, a large percentage of the grounds can be enjoyed if you know where to enter.

Let me show you the way.

The Lower Gardens

The blue curb shows disabled patrons where to enter the lower gardens. Benches are available to use while waiting for your driver or shuttle bus, and there is an accessible Porta Potty-like toilet nearby.

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible
Drop-off at gate to lower gardens. (Accessible toilet is to the left)
Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | gazebo
Passing the gazebo you can turn left toward the cherry trees and the Shrine, or turn right toward the terraced gardens.

A gently-sloping path leads past the gazebo and into the lower garden area, where you can continue down to the gated Shrine of the Masters . . .

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | cherry blossoms | Shrine of the Masters
Veer to the right to enjoy the cherry blossoms, or stay to the left to reach the Shrine of the Masters.

. . . enjoy the blossoms of the cherry tree and tulips . . .

Flowering cherry tree, with green hedge in foreground and paved path leading to open white gate, taken at rystal Hermitage, Ananda Village.
The flowering Japanese cherry trees in the lower gardens are 25-30 years old.

. . . roll or stroll around the pool area  . . .

White metal table and two chairs, on paved patio with white fence, blooming cherry tree, and other greenery in background, taken at Crystal Hermitage.
An inviting place to sit with a friend

. . . or follow the path through the gate to one of the terraced gardens.

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | garden terrace
Pathway to the terraced tulip gardens
Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | garden terrace | breezeway
Covered breezeway

The cascading waterfall and colorful round of tulips is a peaceful place to quietly find the beauty within.

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | waterfall | water feature
A beautiful spot for meditation

The Middle Path

For a different perspective of the garden, backtrack up the path (past the gazebo) and go up the road a few yards to another gate.

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible
Gate leading to the middle accessible path

There’s a gravel path that leads to one of the paved landings and this beautiful view of the gardens . . .

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | gravel pathway
Hedge- and ivy-lined gravel path
Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | colonnade
The terraces are fashioned after those found in the Himalayan foothills.
Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible
Beauty everywhere!

The Chapel and the View From Above

Retracing your path and going up the road another few yards brings you to the gated entrance to the Chapel, with its wide and well-paved walkway leading to the courtyard outside the front door.

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible
Drop-off area near Chapel
Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | chapel
Sidewalk leading to the chapel from “the back way.”
Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | Chapel
The chapel was inspired by the Portiuncala, the little chapel of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy.

Guests are welcome to enter the Chapel and enjoy the stained glass, simple altar, and quiet reverence.

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | Chapel
Simple and beautiful.

The view from the courtyard . . .

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | Chapel
Later in the season blooming wisteria will cover this walkway.
Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | Chapel | pathway
This grassy area includes a view of the river below. Unfortunately, I do not believe a wheelchair can get to this area.

Wheelchair Accessibility

Although the gardens are not 100% accessible for wheelchair users or others who cannot climb stairs, I believe there is enough access to make it worth a visit.

Carrieanna uses a motorized wheelchair, so she would be able to easily navigate the gravel paths and slight incline to get to the middle and upper gates.

Someone using a manual wheelchair would need reasonably good arm strength and/or a strong and healthy companion to assist over the non-paved areas.

About the Garden | A Few Other Details

This year nearly 17,000 tulips have been planted, along with over 8,000 pansies and forget-me-nots, in 150 beds in the upper and lower gardens. In addition to traditionally shaped tulips there are many unusual varieties, including parrot, fringe, peony-tulips (double), lily flowering, and multi-flowering.

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible
The morning sun enhances their beauty!

The bulbs are planted from November to February by 3 part-time gardeners and many community volunteers.

Garden hours vary depending on the season, so visit the website and/or follow on Facebook for hours and other important information

There is an entry fee of $6.00. Frequent visitors might want to purchase the annual pass for $12.00.

While cell reception is limited and a GPS system may not be reliable, the directions on the website are easy to follow

A Spiritual Community

Virtually all the elements of Crystal hermitage gardens come from the design and creativity of Swami Kriyananda, a disciple of the yoga master Paramhansa Yogananda. He founded several Ananda communities for the purpose of helping people find inner peace and Self-Realization through the deeper teachings of yoga and Christianity.

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | cherry blossoms | Shrine of the Masters
Shrine of the Masters

Swami Kriyananda left his body in 2013, but those who live and serve in this Ananda community continue to be inspired by his teachings, books and music, and especially by his friendship, kindness and his example of personal dedication to Yogananda.

“It is to honor him and to share the joy he shared with us that we offer to you the beauty and peace of Crystal Hermitage.”

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | sculpture | Joy is Within You | Spiritual | Symbol
Joy Is Within You

The symbol seen throughout the Ananda complex means “Joy is within you” – and when looking at all the beauty on these grounds, it’s easy to feel that joy.

And a Few More Photos to Entice You to Visit!

Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | wheelchair accessible | honey bee
Busy honey bee
Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | foot bridge
Foot bridge near the pool
Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | peony-tulip
Peony-like double tulip
Crystal Hermitage | Ananda Village | Nevada City | Northern California | gardens | tulips | gazebo
Gazebo near the entrance to the lower gardens

Interested in purchasing any of these images? Leave your contact info in a comment below, or email JeriMurphyPhotography@gmail.com for further information.

By Jeri Murphy

Traveler, photographer, wedding officiant, blogger. Mother, friend, explorer ... that's just a little about me!

1 reply on “Tulip Gardens at Crystal Hermitage”

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