Vail Daily letter: Important effort for Alpine Gardens |

Vail Daily letter: Important effort for Alpine Gardens

After the recent article about Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in the Sept. 29 edition I thought the public would like a little more information. Having lived in Vail for 52 years I’ve always known about the gardens but never paid much attention to how they operate. For years I’ve walked to the amphitheater, often times stopping off at the gardens to show my visiting guests how beautiful they are.

Last year, I was asked by the board to help them raise money for a new education center. I agreed and very quickly learned everything I could about the gardens. Needless to say, they are much more than meets the eye. At first, I was completely amazed at how much goes into managing the gardens and how professional the staff are. As a result of their expertise, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are now known and respected around the world by laymen, botanists, environmentalists, outdoor organizations and preservationists. There are numerous partnerships with several entities to save rare and endangered plants, local schools partner with garden staff to learn about the science of plants, senior citizens visit the gardens for horticultural therapy sessions and the list goes on. There is something for everyone.

But there has always been something missing — a home, a place for the community to gather, a place to house an extensive plant collection, a facility to hold meetings and classes, a place to grow plants during the winter time, as well as room for two small offices.

After some delays, a new building was approved this summer and we began fundraising in earnest. Under normal circumstances a capital campaign would take two to three years. In just three short months we have raised over 60 percent of our goal, which is remarkable. The fact that most all of the donations are coming from locals is wonderful testimony to the belief that an adjunct facility is important to the vitality of the gardens. As awareness increases so does relevance. The gardens expects exponential increases in financial support.

In the near future we will be opening up our fundraising efforts to the general public and expect to see the same kind of positive response.

Several grants have been written, including one to the town of Vail. We feel that this public-private partnership will result in a healthy two-way reward. With over 100,000 visitors to the gardens every summer we expect many more people to visit year-round and to bring with them added revenue to the town and local businesses. The gardens are both a community and global asset because they are widely recognized as the world’s best and highest botanical gardens. They are sure to draw international and regional garden enthusiasts.

One person recently said to me, “Other than the hospital, the gardens is the best, lasting contribution that can be made to the Vail Valley.” Now that I know so much more about the gardens, I couldn’t agree more.

Susan Brown Milhoan

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