Vail, Colorado. Available this Spring, On the Roof of the Rocky Mountains offers an intimate view of Vail’s treasured botanic garden, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Written by landscape architect and Colorado-based author Sarah Chase Shaw, the book examines the extraordinary effort put forth by a group of community-minded citizens to develop a world-renowned botanic garden devoted to high alpine plants. Named in honor of former First Lady Betty Ford, an avid gardener and part-time resident of Vail, the Gardens showcases over 3,000 alpine species in a collection of individual gardens devoted to unique alpine environments around the globe.

Compelling text, accompanied by masterful plant portraits, take readers on an inside tour of the Gardens, one of the most diverse living alpine plant collections in North America. Shaw’s new book is a tribute to alpine plants’ world and the vital work the Gardens is doing to promote research and conservation of global alpine environments in one of America’s premier resort destinations.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is more than a beautiful garden: it is a laboratory of testing, studying, and showcasing a rich palette of native and exotic perennials, many of which had never been grown above 6,000 feet anywhere in America.
— Panayoti Kalaidis, Senior Curator and Director of Outreach for Denver Botanic Gardens.

On the Roof of the Rocky Mountains illuminates the Gardens as both a leader in alpine plant conservation as well as a destination in one of America’s premier resorts. Its expertly curated and stunningly beautiful botanic displays are located within the Town of Vail’s Ford Park, directly across from Vail Mountain, and a short distance from the center of Vail Village.

Captivating photography and descriptive writing reveal the beauty and infinite grandeur of the land above the trees, a landscape that few visit and even fewer inhabit. An exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Gardens immerses readers in a seasonal look at the unusual alpine specimens and horticultural favorites interspersed throughout the Gardens’ collections, from the frigid and barren peaks of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to the more temperate alpine environments of South Africa, the Himalayas, the Caucasus Mountains, and beyond.

On the Roof of the Rocky Mountains establishes the Gardens as a must-see destination for visitors, a place known for its beautiful gardens, world-renowned plant collections, and educational outreach. All Gardens’ photography was captured by Vail-based photographers Todd Winslow Pierce and Dominique Taylor. Drone photography was taken by outdoor adventure photographer Brandon Huttenlocher. Global alpine imagery comes from Minden Pictures, recognized worldwide as the foremost provider of wildlife and nature stock photography.

“While the focus of the book is Betty Ford Alpine Gardens,” says Shaw, “it is also a celebration of the global reach of the alpine ecosystem and the unique climate that supports and sustains the hardy plants and animals that inhabit it from pole to pole.”

Organized into five chapters, the book opens with “Sowing Seeds,” a look back at the community’s effort to create a public garden in an emerging year-round destination resort. Stunning images of global alpine landscapes populate the pages of chapter two, “Understanding the Alpine World,” illustrating the unusual ways in which weather and climate define survival for plants, animals, and humans in the land above the trees. The Gardens’ magnificent botanic displays are revealed in “Four Seasons in the Gardens.” Its distinguished collections of alpine plants worldwide come into focus in “Guardians of the Alpine.” Finally, the Gardens’ role as a leader in alpine plant conservation are described in “Vigilance and Vision.”

Sarah Chase Shaw is the author of two residential landscape architecture books and co-author of Living Beneath the Colorado Peaks: The Story of Knapp Ranch. Her work, which has appeared in multiple national and regional publications, covers design and lifestyle issues in the American West, including landscape architecture, architecture, community planning, environmental design, land use, real estate, gardens, people, families, and history.
On The Roof of The Rocky Mountains The Botanical Legacy of Betty Ford Alpine Gardens | Vail’s Alpine Treasure is a 12″ x 12″ hardcover book with 276 pages, over 285 color photographs, an artistically-rendered map, and over 22,000 words, text, and captions. Retail price, $45. ISBN: 978-1-4236-6011-8. It will be available for sale in June 2021 at and botanical garden gift shops across the U.S. and independent bookstores.

About Distributor Gibbs Smith, Publisher
Gibbs Smith is a Utah-based publisher founded in 1969. Its trade and special interest division publishes high-end quality products on a variety of subjects and distributes books for select publishers.

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