Turn the page at Vail’s Betty Ford Gardens | VailDaily.com
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Turn the page at Vail’s Betty Ford Gardens

Daily Staff ReportVail CO, Colorado
Courtesy of Betty Ford Alpine GardensMaster bookbinder Helmut Fricker, an honorary member of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens since 1988, inspects a new restoration project at his workshop in Eagle.
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VAIL With spring in the air and a 20th anniversary to celebrate, Americas highest botanical garden is looking to turn more than a few pages this year.Betty Ford Alpine Gardens wants the Vail Valley community to know about two very special books both handmade, leather-bound creations by renowned local musician Helmut Fricker, who also happens to be a master bookbinder.One of the books was given to the gardens namesake, former first lady Betty Ford, at a tribute dinner in her honor on Aug. 7, 2005. The one-of-a-kind album, featuring a window on the front cover revealing a photo of a Betty Ford daylily in full bloom, weighs 5 pounds. Its 40 pages contain personal letters to Ford written by her family and friends, including other first ladies, national dignitaries, local community leaders and members of the gardens staff. Its a very special book, said Fricker, a longtime friend of the Ford family and an honorary member of the gardens since he performed his Austrian squeezebox act at the gardens ribbon-cutting ceremony in 1988. I was so proud to make it for her.The other book is another unique creation containing every honorarium or memorial to the gardens since fundraising efforts began in the 1980s. A veritable living document weighing 6 pounds, it lists names of people living and deceased added every year by a professional calligrapher, no matter the value of their donation.People contribute to the gardens because they want to make a difference in the quality of life for those in our local community, as well as those who visit from afar, said Ann Kurronen, the gardens executive director. While memberships are our largest source of income, memorials and honorariums are another significant portion of our donation base.The memorial book, on display through Memorial Day at Alpine Treasures gift shop on Gore Creek Promenade in Vail Village, will move to the gardens other gift shop, the Schoolhouse in Ford Park, for display through the rest of the summer season.Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, at 8,250 feet above sea level in Vails Ford Park, is the highest botanical garden in the United States, and perhaps the world, providing free access to an estimated 100,000 visitors annually. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization for which operations and programs are funded entirely through the generosity of donors, its mission is to inspire passion for plants in high-altitude communities through beautification, conservation, education and research programs.We hope to be able to continue to offer our programs free of charge, Kurronen said. Memorializing someone is a wonderful way to keep the spirit of someone alive while helping out the gardens, as well.For more information on memberships, memorials and honorariums to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, call 476-0103 or visit http://www.bettyfordalpinegardens.org.


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