GardenSMART Newsletter Signup
Visit our Sponsors!
Visit our Sponsors and win.
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens


Nestled in a dramatic mountain valley in Vail, Colorado, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens  are the highest botanic gardens in the world at an elevation of 8,250 feet.  Now nationally recognized, the garden receives 100,000 visitors annually.


Just twenty years old this year, the gardens are spread over five acres to include five distinct landscapes; Alpine Rock Garden, Children’s Garden, Mountain Perennial Garden, Mountain Meditation Garden and a native ‘Back to Nature’ area. Plant collection groupings are based on type of habitat, geographic origin, taxonomy and need for conservation. 


A visit to the gardens in May and early June will find the alpines at their best. Native Rocky Mountain gems such as spring beauty (Claytonia spp), alpine phlox (Phlox condensata) bloom alongside alpine poppy (Papaver kluanense) and well loved favorites such as old man of the mountains (Hymenoxys grandiflora) and sky pilot (Polemonium viscosum). In the Czech style crevice garden worldwide alpine plants such as the alpine morning glories (Convolvulus sp) , spring gentian (Gentiana verna), Edraianthus pumilio and Veronica bombycina thrive in the rare mountain air.


A deep long snow cover in winter and dry summers with cool nights provide ideal conditions for many difficult plants. Some special plants are found in the Himalayan garden with lilies such as Notholirion bulbiferum and N. macrophyllum, Nomacharis sp and Lilium duchartrei blooming with poppies (Meconsopsis sp) and a variety of primroses.


For visitors the most sought after plants are the European favorites. Huge trumpet gentian (Gentiana acaulis) mats are covered with iridescent blue flowers accentuated by the high ultra violet light at 8,000 feet. Traditional eidelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) looms over its much prettier dwarf cousin Leontopodium nivale and Ramonda myconi  peeks out from the limestone crevices.


Later in the season, in July and August, the perennial borders are at their peak with many traditional mountain perennials enjoying the cool mountain air. A large variety of delphinium, foxglove and monkshood species thrive alongside panther lily, deep red montbretia and species peonies.


The changing of aspen leaves in mid to late September herald the end of the season but not before the fall blooming Himalayan gentians and a variety of autumn blooming crocus (Colchicum sp) have had their time.


To see for yourself visit the gardens next time you head out west. The gardens are free of charge, funded by private donations and grants. For more information visit the website at


Nicola Ripley
Director of Horticulture and Research
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens


All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

Article URL:

Back to Articles List                               

GardenSMART Featured Article

By Heather Rhoades,, Photographs courtesy of

Cover crops are an often-overlooked way to improve the vegetable garden. Oftentimes, people consider the time between late fall to winter to early spring to be a time where the vegetable garden space is wasted. We think our gardens rest during this time, but this is not the case at all. Read more...

Join fellow garden lovers, history buffs and music enthusiasts to discover the quaint towns and colorful gardens of Holland and Belgium in May of 2018.

This exciting journey will be hosted by nationally known host Eric Johnson, of Public Television's blockbuster show GardenSmart. Your river cruise begins in Amsterdam where you'll see works by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, Anne Frank's House, and see the city's most famous gardens. Then spend a full morning on the grounds of the most beautiful spring garden in the world-Keukenhof! Visit the picturesque Belgian towns of Bruges and Ghent as well as Kinderdijk, with the Netherlands' iconic collection of 19 authentic windmills that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, history buffs will experience a captivating tour of the WWI trenches of Flanders and WWII Arnhem Battlefield of A Bridge Too Far fame. You won't want to miss this extraordinary garden adventure to Holland and Belgium.

Book by November 15, 2017 and save up to $1200 dollars per person!

To register call: Alki Tours at 800-895-2554

  Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!  
Copyright © 1998-2012 GSPC. All Rights Reserved.