Happy New Year! I can’t believe it is almost the end of January 2010. We have had here in California some of the biggest storms in a long time. After several dry years we really need the water. It has snowed twice, but each time it melted pretty fast. Ananda Village looks very different in the winter, but always beautiful.
So it was on one of our stormy nights that we had a cheerful community meeting to plan for Springtime at Ananda, which is the new name given to our annual Crystal Hermitage Tulip Tour and Open house.
Last year, 1200 people came to visit the gardens on two separate weekends. Many of those visitors explored Ananda Village as well and ate lunch at The Expanding Light.
Visitors get to feast their gaze on tulips of course, but also flowering cherry trees, wisteria, pansies and other shrubs and the beautiful statues. For the Ananda community it is literally all hands on deck. We will all be helping in some way to host this event. Last year, everyone involved was so happy to be part of the open house.
Each year in the fall, preparations and plantings begin for the following spring. The core group of volunteer gardeners, lovingly referred to as the Green Team, are expertly and joyfully led by Jivada and Netri Mair. Together they plant at least 15,000 plants and bulbs. Last year the gardens were spectacular, I think the flowers loved that so many people visited them and appreciated them.
For the past several years I have visited many, many times to photograph the gardens in all kinds of weather, different times of day and all the seasons. The photos which are now part of the book, Crystal Hermitage Gardens, features excerpts from many of Swami’s writings.
One of the things I loved most about my visits was immersing myself in the gardens and getting to spend time watching Jivada and Netri, with the help of many others, create a garden that is so conscious and filled with love. Their attunement to Swamiji’s amazing vision of the garden and to Divine Mother and the “nature devas” is awe inspiring.
They consciously planned the sweep of colors in the carpet of tulips, and even considered what the reflections of flowers in the windows would look like. Jivada and Jagadeesh one of the other main gardeners were also very accommodating to this photographer and they would help me get the best angle to show off God’s Light, which could mean fetching a ladder for me to get up high!
The book also includes some excerpts from the vast works of Swami Kriyananda; songs, poems, books and articles. This is an exerpt from the forward to the book written by Devi Novak. I love her words. They express what Crystal Hermitage means to people.
The great American botanist, George Washington Carver, once said, “Everything in nature will speak to you if you love it enough.” Crystal Hermitage Gardens is a living testimony to the beauty that can be created in the natural world when we approach it with higher consciousness and with love.
The photographs in this book capture the luminous quality of this garden where each flower and tree is cared for with loving appreciation for the life present within it. In return, each blossom and leaf speaks to us, as one would to a friend, in its language of radiance and light. And the setting lets the visitor expand from a focus on a single blossom to a vista that reaches out to infinity.
Visitors to Crystal Hermitage are often moved to tears as they behold nature revealing her hidden realms of divine beauty. One guest recently commented, “I feel like I’ve come home.”
This garden is the creation of Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda World Brotherhood Village, where Crystal Hermitage is located. Kriyananda is a world traveler and a gifted writer, lecturer, composer, and a photographer in his own right.
When he first conceptualized and designed Crystal Hermitage Gardens, he tried to capture the beauty he’d experienced in his travels: the statuary and expansive views of Villa San Michele in Capri; the inspiration of Porziuncula Chapel in Assisi, Italy; the manicured beauty of the gardens along Lake Lugano in Switzerland; and the brilliant colors of the Keukenhof Garden tulips in Amsterdam, Holland.
I came away from this book project with a renewed appreciation for the great light that is Ananda. Paramhansa Yogananda’s ray of divine light, beautifully channelled through Swami Kriyananda and the many souls worldwide that live and tune into this vibration have created a place of beauty and peace.
For the month of April especially, the doors to the gardens are thrown wide open to invite those who feel so inclined to enjoy Mother Nature’s beauty and to drink in the peace that pervades every molecule of every flower, leaf and even the soil.
I hope you can visit and see these wonderful gardens for yourself. The following slideshow shares, I hope, some of the fun, smiles and beauty of Crystal Hermitage.
I want to share the lyrics that Swami Kriyananda has written to a song dedicated to the devas, or nature spirits:
You devas of woodland, of mountain and field:
Come show’r on us blessings and light.
The wonders that Nature, befriended, can yield
Reveal to our hearing and sight.
Your melodies, whispering joy on the air,
Affirm that God’s ev’rywhere.
O devas of woodland, of mountain and field,
Be with us in blessing this night.
Blessings to you all. Love, Barbara