High Altitude Society column: Alpine Gardens in Vail celebrate 30 years | VailDaily.com

High Altitude Society column: Alpine Gardens in Vail celebrate 30 years

Carolyn Pope
High Altitude Society
Christie Hochtl, Hatsie Hinmon, Michele Bolduc and Sally Claire enjoy the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens breakfast for its donors. The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens began 30 years ago.
Photos by Carolyn Pope | Special to the Daily |

For 30 years, a precious piece of alpine paradise has stood just east of Vail Village for anyone who passes through to enjoy. There’s no doubt that Betty Ford Alpine Gardens keeps many special moments treasured deep within its earth; marriage proposals and weddings, tender proclamations of love, moments of memory of someone well loved.

From the beautiful stone stairway that lifts people through the alpine lowland to tundra, waterfalls and private nooks surrounded by lupine and columbine, there’s no question that this piece of mountain paradise has seen its share of tears and laughter.

Last week, the staff of the Alpine Gardens hosted a breakfast for its special donors. Underwritten by Doe Browning, the guests arrived on a bluebird day to be greeted by a delicious breakfast prepared by Eric Berg, of Vail Catering Concepts, and pastry by Columbine Cafe and Bakery.

“It’s the year of the pollinator,” said Liz Campbell, development director for the gardens. “Here in Vail, we are striving to increase the pollinator population in our valley and educate all on the importance of these creatures.”

Multi-Tiered Horticulture splendor

Begun 30 years ago as a simple display garden, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens has blossomed into a multi-tiered horticulture splendor, with an emphasis on the alpine environment. The grounds are visited by thousands of locals and out of town guests every year, and are free for all to enjoy. Maintaining the gardens, however, is not free.

Keeping the message of the year alive, Campbell encouraged the guests to “help pollinate our gardens with new members.”

By joining the gardens, she explained, not only are you helping to support one of the valley’s most cherished spaces, but the membership also provides access to many other gardens across the nation.

After the breakfast, the guests were treated to a fashion show featuring local ladies bedecked in this season’s finest from Luca Bruno, Nina McLemore and Pepi Sports.

“It was so much fun,” said Sandi Brown, one of the locals modeling for Luca Bruno. “I’m hoping that I’ll be discovered for my second career as a supermodel!” she added with a laugh.

Others modeling included perennial amateur model Beth Slifer, Victoria Steuber, Laine Lapin, Realtor Cristina Byrne and Kay Chester.

On the calendar for the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens at the end of July is a pre-Bravo! Vail cocktail party. Membership is the fertilizer that keeps the garden open, as well as the work of many volunteers and dedicated interns, so please visit their website at http://www.bettyfordalpinegardens.org, or stop by (and shop) at the Alpine Gardens’ schoolhouse shop by Ford Park or at the location in Vail Village by Gore Creek.

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