Recently on a sunny day in November Janakidevi and Byasa went on a tour of the Yogananda Gardens site. Perhaps we should call it an expedition rather than a tour owing to its undeveloped state. Daiva had cleared a path through the blackberries so we could explore some areas for the first time. Here we try to bring you something of the experience through pictures. You will be able to follow our progress on the map with each picture keyed to a numbered location.
This chart shows our path through the gardens area. Click on the image to open it in a separate tab so that you can quickly access it as you read through this post.
We start at (1) with a look southward up the hill to get orientated to the garden area. The foreground is a vegetable garden area, then the creek flows left to right across the scene. Beyond that is a flat area we are calling Beaver Meadow because of the beavers who like to dam up the creek. Beyond the meadow is the row of trees that form the Northern boundary of the garden. Much of the hill between there and the forested area above has been cleared of blackberries. To the right (West) of the forested area you may be able to pick out the newly cleared wide path through the berries up to the top where the statue of Yogananda is planned to be. Our hike will take us first to the base of the forested area then down around and up the new path to the top.
At point (2) we can see the glint of sunlight reflected by the creek coming down along the left of the road and crossing under to our right. The water flowing here feeds into Hill Creek which feeds the Tualatin River that empties into the Willamette River which in turn empties into the Columbia River that will take it to the Pacific Ocean.
Here at (3) Janakidevi has found a beaver dam. Left alone, the beavers could cause the road to be flooded by raising their dam too high. Janakidevi says, “They know how to make a lovely swimming hole — for themselves.”
One of our objectives is to familiarize ourselves with the various flora. Here (4) Janakidevi is collecting a sample leaf for later identification. (It appears to be MacKenzie’s Willow )
We found a place (5) where we can cross over the creek and explore the area to the SE of the road.
This whole area (6) on the SE side of the road has great possibilities. It could be a nature area including wetlands and dense forest environments. For now, however we are concentrating on the main garden area West of the road.
Along the way we explored some of the Birch forest along the NE edge (7) of the garden area. It is a little too dense to get very far. Just imagine how delightful it will be when we have some walking paths through here.
Now we go into the garden area proper at the lower entrance (8) and proceed up the slope toward the base of the forested area (9). In this photo the road is at the far left obscured by some blackberries. Note the two tall fir trees and the row of maples in their fall colors. The slope rises steeply just in front of where Janakidevi is standing bottom center in the photo.
At this point we already knew there were some wet places in the forest patch and we searched for their beginnings. We spotted standing water a few yards to the right (10) of where she is standing in the photo above. A few weeks earlier, before the blackberries had been mowed, Janakidevi had worked her way down into this area from above and had gotten trapped without any obvious way out of a boggy spot. We wanted to understand the water flow in this area so we plunged into the woods to follow the moisture and find the spot that Janakidevi had gotten to on that earlier occasion. We think we found it (11). Janakidevi points to it.
We followed the water down the hill trying to stay out of the boggier spots. The overgrowth was very thick and it was a good thing that we brought some clippers to get through the blackberries. Finally we broke through into a recently cleared area (12) and saw the sun again.
The water flows down the hill toward the ponds under a line of Alders and berries. At the edge(13) of the still wild blackberry country, we found a culvert in place where we could cross over to the West side.
Now we begin our climb up the path that Daiva cut (14) through blackberries and scotch broom that tower over our heads.
We are walking on a spongy mat of chopped up berry bushes. Some attractive mushrooms have emerged through the thick mat. [We looked it up: Japanese Umbrella Inky (Coprinus plicatilis) common in lawns, non-poisonous]
As we approach the top (15) we look back to the channel cut through the 8-foot high scotch broom.
Once on top (16) we glance to our left (east) across the newly planted grain crop and see the beautiful maples that mark the top of the forested area we have circled around.
We are taking in the sweeping panorama that follows: The huge White Oak at left marks the extent of the Laurelwood property to the south. On the right, below, is the sports field and exercise track that is part of the Laurelwood campus, with beautiful hills, mountains and homes in the distance.
Looking across the valley we spot the green Ananda House with the old-fashioned dormer windows in the roof. It is an assisted living facility with a warm, homey environment and living space for about six residents, two directors, and several staff. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens, safe walking paths, wheel-chair accessibility, and garden plots for residents with green thumbs.
And to the right we can see parts of Harmony Hall and Expansion — buildings on the campus of the Ananda Center at Laurelwood. All that is to say that the statue site will be visible from these places and from Laurelwood road as well. Laurelwood Campus has ongoing residential intern programs in sustainable living and consciousness studies. It is also available to individuals and groups who wish to spend time in retreats, classes or programs given in house or by renting the facilities for their own programs. The Park’s land is adjacent to the Campus.
Now it is time to start back toward the road. Janakidevi is just leaving the area where the initial garden will be laid out in preparation for the coming of the Yogananda Statue. We’ve worked our way through different sections of the large garden site and up the hill, starting to trail blaze for the future enjoyment of others.
Approaching the only road that takes us from one end of the Park to the other(20), we note a large white oak marking the upper entrance to the gardens (21) at the top.
Descending along the road (22) we can look back toward the lowering sun and reflect on the beauty we have experienced and the future beauty we look forward to sharing with all those who visit. And so ends our tour of Yogananda Gardens.