Monday, June 22, 2020

Lofty ambitions: the Betty Ford Alpine Garden

Epilobium (Zauschneria) garrettii
I start with an autumn picture I took a few years ago: who ever imagined a "California fuchsia" growing like this at over 8000'? A hallmark of the Betty Ford Gardens is the exquisite hardscape--superb masonry, beautiful boulders and the artistic display of a fantastic botanical collection!

Epilobium (Zauschneria) garrettii
I believe there is much all of us can learn from this remarkable garden in Vail, a resort town created in the last half century around a ski theme. With barely 10,000 year around residents, they somehow manage to support a full scale botanic garden (free entry, by the way) with a considerable staff and an enormous reach locally, regionally--even internationally as you shall see! How do they do it?

Epilobium (Zauschneria) garrettii Pink sport
Back to the zauschneria (I can use the old name as a common name after all!): there was a beautiful pink sport.
Picea pungens (pendulous)
There are also some fine dwarf and larger conifers: this garden as been a teaching tool for gardeners at altitude throughout the region. When it was launched, the palette of plants that was grown in the mountains was pitifully  small: Vail proved that you can seemingly grow ANYTHING up here!
Alpines in June
Confession: these pictures are from a number of years ago. I hope to go up this Sunday, however, and get NEW ones.

Alpines in June
The blues of veronicas and gentians are truly eye blasting!

Alpines in June

Childrens garden and garden shop
As a rock gardener, I tend to linger arouynd the rocky areas--but there are many gardens including a wonderful children's garden that adults can enjoy just as much,

Upper waterfall
A spectacular waterfall decends in dramatic steps down the slope..

Visitor Center
A few years ago a beautiful visitor's center was added with changing displays highlighting relevant facets of botany and horticulture, and changing yearly...

Alas! the picture is several years old. A NEW exhibit about Plant Explorers in Colorado is being mounted as I type...

Green roof
And the building even has a green roof!

Here's a portion of an alpine house next to the visitor's center--the year it was just being planted: it has established and is full of treasures today.

Rock work

The rock work both in the gardens and the buildings is intricate and beautiful.

Cliff in native sectrion

There are many themed sections: I especially love the native plant area (notice the wood lily lower right? Lilium philadelphicum v. andinum.)
Penstemon cliff
 The slope with shrubby penstemons in one steep spot I find especially inspiring: this has gone from strength to strength...
Dasanthera Penstemon species and hybrids

It is impossible in one blog to capture all the activities and programs developed by this garden: there is an ambitious Conservation Biology program monitoring and protecting local plants; the education program serves children and adults--and there is more: luckily, this Friday, if you sign up for Taproot, the first hour is dedicated to this garden showing the spectacular spring bloom this year, and you will meet several of the key staff there who can give you a glimmer of this remarkable gem in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. Click on the banner below to find out more. Join me and let's both rise to the occasion!

The Betty Ford Alpine Garden will be the first of eight wonderful programs designed to showcase the best in North American rock gardening today. Don't miss it!

1 comment:

  1. Now that you are refreshed I can't wait to see new photos. I bet things have changed.


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