Betty Ford Alpine Gardens join Sentinel Plant Network | VailDaily.com

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens join Sentinel Plant Network

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The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens have over 3,000 species across 5 acres in Vail's Ford Park, including an Education Center and Alpine House, and activities for all ages throughout the summer.

VAIL — Betty Ford Alpine Gardens executive director Nicola Ripley recently participated in a Sentinel Plant Network training, a partnership between the American Public Gardens Association and the National Plant Diagnostic Network.

The Sentinel Plant Network contributes to plant conservation by engaging public garden professionals, volunteers and visitors in the early detection of serious plant pests and diseases. The Sentinel Plant Network was launched in 2011 and currently includes more than 225 public gardens across North America.

The training for the southwest region in Tucson, Arizona, included more than 35 professionals from 20 public gardens, as well as representatives from the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

'Educating the Public'

In the workshop, Ripley and other participants learned about the economic and environmental impact of serious plant pests and diseases as well as threats in our region, host plants affected, common signs and symptoms as well as best practices for monitoring and reporting.

"Public gardens are strategically positioned to protect plants from serious plant pests and diseases by monitoring their collections and educating the public about the importance of early detection and rapid response," said Tyler Hale, the Association's Plant Protection Program assistant and coordinator for the Sentinel Plant Network. "The network is a critical program for helping to combat the pests and diseases threatening our natural areas."

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To learn more about the threats to our local flora and how you can help protect the trees in our community by getting involved in early detection, stop by the garden or contact Nick Courtens, curator of plant collections. A workshop will be offered this summer, with more details to be posted on the website.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens specializes in the study, understanding and conservation of alpine plants and the fragile mountain ecosystem. On a little over 5 acres, more than 3,000 species of plants are displayed in five themed gardens and the Alpine House. Throughout the year, especially during the summer, the Alpine Gardens can keep children and adults actively engaged in the great outdoors. A complete list of activities and events is available at http://www.bettyford alpinegardens.org.