High altitude gardens can beat up your garden | SummitDaily.com

High altitude gardens can beat up your garden

Jessica Smith
The Summit County Garden Tour is celebrating its 25th year by featuring 11 local gardens, including two optional stops in Blue River and Leadville.
Jessica Smith / jsmith@summitdaily.com |

25th annual Garden Tour

Date: Saturday, July 25

Registration time: 8:30-11 a.m. (no later)

Place to register: The Community & Senior Center, 0083 Nancy’s Place, Frisco

Cost: $10 if purchased in advance; $15 if purchased day of event

Tickets can be purchased at Neils Lunceford and Alpine Garden on Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne; at the Community & Senior Center in Frisco; at the RE/MAX office on 220 S. Main Street, Breckenridge; online at http://www.SummitCountyGardenClub.org; or at the door the day of.

More information: http://www.SummitCountyGardenClub.org

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, the saying goes, and nowhere is that more true than in a Summit County garden. The seeds, bulbs and roots that slumber beneath snow more than half the year have now awakened and are blooming in a riot of profusion throughout local gardens.

This year is the 25th for the Summit County Garden Club’s annual tour, which showcases gardens from various corners of the county. Each July, around 8 to 10 local gardens are chosen as a stop on the tour, to show off exactly what gardens at 9,000 feet and above are made of.


Though Jolie and Gene Berry have attended the tour before, this is the first year it will feature their own garden. Originally from Louisiana, the Berrys moved to Summit from Meeker, Colorado, about eight years ago.

When asked if she was familiar with alpine gardening before moving to Silverthorne, Jolie laughed and said that she wasn’t at all.

“It’s been a real joy to learn how to garden up here — what to plant, how to take care of it, expectations and everything,” she said. “We’re avid gardeners, we always love to garden. … It’s been quite the fun adventure.”

The Berry house is in the Three Peaks neighborhood, just above the Raven at Three Peaks golf course. The drive alone offers sweeping views of the town of Silverthorne that are worth seeing.

From the Berry driveway, a stone pathway takes viewers around the side of the house to the back. Just a few steps in, the perfume from columbines, geraniums and what seem like hundreds of other flowers descends, turning the air sweet in the summer sun.

The major feature of the Berrys’ backyard is the brook that tumbles down the slope in a gentle waterfall. The path descends to a small outlook, with benches and a table for the best viewing and relaxing point at the water’s edge.

Despite some late season snow, Jolie Berry said that her blooms have been particularly vibrant this year. “We watched the bulbs just come bursting out of the ground, like a geyser almost,” she said. “It’s been an astonishing year for blossoming things.”


Now in its 25th year, the tour has grown since its early days, increasing the amount of gardens showcased and expanding the audience enjoying them.

“What is so amazing is how this evolved,” said Beverly Breakstone, tour chair for the garden club.

The first tours were solely for garden club members. Now, Breakstone said they often have around 400 people attending, from all over.

One of the most notable additions to the tour is the fact that ticket proceeds go into a college scholarship fund for a Summit High School senior. The student must be planning to go into a plant-related field.

This year’s recipient is Claire MacMurray, who is looking to pursue a degree in environmental science.

“She just stood out in a number of ways,” Breakstone said. “She seemed committed to the field. She’s going to do environmental science, and we feel that’s a very valuable field for the plant world, and we felt that she was a good choice.”


The tour is self-guided. Viewers pick up a booklet at the Frisco community and senior center in the morning, which gives driving directions to each of the gardens. There is no specified route or time, though the club members suggest planning touring from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to be sure to see everything.

Each year, a different corner of the county is highlighted. This year, the focus is on Silverthorne, Frisco and Keystone. There are 11 gardens on the tour, including two optional stops.

The reason for so many gardens, Breakstone said, is that many of them are close together. In Frisco, there’s a cluster of four that are within walking distance, and, in Keystone, there are two next to each other.

One optional stop is Jane Hendrix’s garden in Blue River. Although far off the tour path of Frisco and Silverthorne, Hendrix’s garden is well-known. Sitting at around 10,000 feet in elevation, it features wide-open spaces crowded with flowers of all types, heights and colors. It has been featured in a number of national and international magazines, and Hendrix welcomes visitors at all times, not just during the tour.

The second option, which is a first this year, is a garden in Leadville. Breakstone describes it as “fascinating” and “full of unique things.” This garden will be open for viewing both Saturday and Sunday this week, as well as the following Saturday, August 1.

“They’re being very gracious in allowing people to have that opportunity to see their garden,” said Breakstone.


On Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m., registration for the tour will take place at the community and senior center. There will be coffee, tea and local baked goods, as well as a display of flower-related art from the Women of Watercolor group.

Each year, a painting is chosen to as the poster to advertise the event. This year, the artist is Anne Beshore with a watercolor of pansies. Notecards featuring current paintings as well as poster paintings of the past will also be on sale.

The atmosphere around the registration in the morning is lively and eventful, Breakstone said, with viewers encouraged to walk around and view the paintings before moving on to the real thing in the gardens.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said.

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