High Altitude Society column: Breakfast and beauty at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens | VailDaily.com

High Altitude Society column: Breakfast and beauty at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Betty Ann Woodland
High Altitude Society

On a gorgeous summer day at the new Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center, a group of supporters of the gardens attended a fashion show and presentation by fashion designer Nina McLemore, whose collection is made in New York and is available in 14 retail stores throughout the United States, including Vail.

It's hard to say what was more beautiful: the flowers in the gardens or the well-clad ladies on the runway. Gleaming, vibrant red, yellow, orange, blue and purple fabrics brightened the morning alongside similar colors of the lupine, penstemon and columbine blossoms.

"The purpose of the Breakfast in the Gardens is to show appreciation for the supporters of the Garden," said Nicola Ripley, executive director of the Gardens. "We especially want to thank all those people who were instrumental in making the Education Center happen, including Pete and Pat Frechette, who were the lead givers, as well as the board members who have been so generous."

Then Ripley shared a sweet story of when Betty Ford was falling ill. Betty gave a specific directive to Sheika Gramshammer.

"Betty asked Sheika to take care of her Garden. Since then, Sheika joined the Board and has been the emotional force behind the Garden," Ripley said.

McLemore shared that she and Betty Ford had something in common.

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"There is at least one link between Betty Ford and myself, and that is that we both learned to love gardening from our mothers," McLemore said. "My mother was the florist in town … and she helped create a garden for the sight-impaired … with lamb's ear and honeysuckle. … She did research on plants with the most smell and touch and with bright colors."

And, McLemore learned to work hard from her mother.

"We were my mother's little soldiers and project managers. … I know how to garden, sew, cook and arrange flowers," McLemore said.

"Our collection is based on really fine fabrics, brilliant colors, which you will see, and clean, simple lines," McLemore said. Alongside her fashion sense, McLemore is proud of her company's philanthropic efforts. "We have an active program in philanthropy, and we often work with a charity like Betty Ford Garden and give back a percentage of our sales."

Thanks went out to the gorgeous models who volunteered their time, including Amanda Precourt, Donna Giordano, Beth Slifer, Betty Janik, Nanette Kuich, Barbara Scrivens and Debbie Wester. As usual, Tricia Swenson did a great job as emcee. For more information on Betty Ford Alpine Garden memberships, contact development director Liz Campbell at 970-476-0103, ext. 5. Visit http://www.bettyfordalpine gardens.org to learn more or become a member.

Betty Ann Woodland is a longtime local who covers social events including fundraisers for nonprofits, local happenings and soirees of all kinds. She can be reached at bettyannw6@gmail.com.