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Springtime comes to Ananda, Nevada City … with a twist


WHO: Ananda Village and Nevada City Chamber of Commerce

WHAT: Springtime at Ananda and self-guided walking tour of Nevada City trees

WHERE: Online and downtown Nevada City

WHEN: April and early May


MORE INFO: Tulip Watch — https://crystalhermitage.org/2020-tulip-watch/

Tree Tour — http://bit.ly/39ZVfiv

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.

Although the pandemic has interfered with events as usual, both Ananda Village on the North San Juan Ridge and Nevada City are trying to salvage their annual springtime showcases.

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.

Flower power at Ananda

“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.

Walking Tree Tour

No. The trees don’t walk. You do.

In years past, a human guide was available to add value to the Self-Guided Walking Tour of Nevada City Trees.

This year, however, your smartphone is your guide to the 42 native and non-native trees that are spectacularly “leafing out” or blooming in April, said Pamela Biery, a public relations consultant to the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.

There are two tours, each taking about an hour to walk. The Nevada City visitors center and chamber office are closed until further notice, but both a map and a guide are available for free download on the chamber’s website.

The guide identifies the trees by both their common and scientific names.

“One of my favorite trees is the American Linden,” said Zeno Acton, an arborist who assisted in the development of the digital map and guide.

When the tree blooms in the coming weeks, it will be “abuzz with bees,” he said.

Like many Nevada City residents, many of the trees on the tour come from afar. For instance, there are Italian Cypresses, European White Birch, Japanese Black Pine, London Plane and Norway Maple.

Some trees have exotic names like Tree of Heaven, Goldenrain Tree, Umbrella Pine, Silk Tree and Gingko.

In addition to the map, Nevada City painted green maple leaves on the sidewalk to help people know where to look, said Acton.

“Some of the leaves might have faded over time,” he said, “but the guide is pretty detailed about location.”

The original tour map was designed by horticulturist and tree care consultant Ellen Solomon in 2008, according to Biery and the chamber’s website.

Randall Frizzell, Roger McGehee and Chet Blackburn contributed to the 2008 project, the website said.

In 2017, Biery won a contract to digitize the map for use on smartphones and computers. She was assisted by Frizzell, Acton and Greg Archibald.

According to Biery, “the Nevada City Self-Guided Tree Tour Map is sponsored by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and was funded by the City of Nevada City, a pass-through grant from California ReLeaf, and local business sponsors Byers LeafGuard, Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co., Gold Creek Inn, and Acton Arboriculture.”

Planning ahead – maybe

Both Ananda and the Nevada City Tree Tour have tentative plans to stage make-up events, possibly in August or September.

“We’re hoping to have a Summertime at Ananda in August,” Lalita said.

“We were going to plant a tree for Arbor Day on April 26,” said Biery. Discussions are underway to consider having a formal tree planting and autumn walking tour, she added.

Although the pandemic is canceling events and making it almost impossible to plan ahead, “technology is rescuing us,” Biery concluded.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada County. He may be contacted at tdurkin@vfr.net or http://www.tomdurkin-media.net.

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