Growing Goods: How The Little Nell Serves up Freshness

As spring turns to summer, The Little Nell comes to life with a bounty of fresh flowers, locally grown produce, farm-raised products, and edible organic herbs — all used to create a one-of-a-kind experience when visiting or dining at the Nell.

The Living Wall at The Little Nell in Aspen

Begin by experiencing the living wall. First created in 2015 and reinstated every summer since, it is the only outside living wall in Aspen that we know of and certainly the only one with a kaleidoscope of color. Garden designer Arabella Beavers with Busy Beavers Gardening carefully curates the wall each year. She has creatively converted a 24′ x 6′ concrete wall into a brilliant display that includes petunias, lobelia, ipomoea and hedgy ivy. The theme changes each summer. One year’s flowerscape revealed four snow-capped mountains nestled within wildflowers and a bright and purple sky depicting the area’s glorious sunsets. The summer of 2019 will unveil a rainbow scheme.

“It is my passion to create unique pieces such as the living wall,” Beavers says, noting The Nell’s gardens have been featured in numerous magazines, travel guides and a Relais & Châteaux coffee table book published by Rizzoli. “I think our gardens give our guests an experience unlike any other in Aspen.”

The Living Wall at The Little Nell in Aspen

That same philosophy carries over to The Nell’s culinary offerings, where preparing unique dishes with the most seasonally fresh, locally cultivated food items prevails.

Take, for instance, The Nell’s onsite edible organic garden. Here you will likely see The Nell’s chefs and mixologists coming out and picking fresh herbs for the kitchen and bar, and flowers to decorate plates and libations. Herbs include basil, chives, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, dill, lavender, spearmint and mint (used in the signature Mountain Mojito, featured below); edible flowers include nasturtium, marigold, viola, and chive flowers, among others.

Fresh produce at The Little Nell

And the bounty doesn’t end with what’s grown on property. In fact, the hotel works with Rock Bottom Ranch in the mid-valley to produce garden fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits. Rock Bottom Ranch also supplies eggs to The culinary team also relies on local purveyors such as Alpenglow Farm for mushrooms, Austin Family Farm for honey, Closer to Heaven Farms for eggs, EmmaFarms for wagyu beef, Rosen Farms for lamb and many more.

It all serves Executive Chef Matthew Zubrod’s vision for the hotel’s restaurants: “to continue establishing The Little Nell as the culinary hub of Colorado,” he says.

Mountain Mojito at The Little Nell


Mountain Mojito

1-1/2 oz Montanya platinum rum 

1/2 oz lime juice

1/2 oz agave

1/2 oz blood orange purée

4 fresh mint leaves (Leyvas pulls his from the garden at The Little Nell)

Splash of soda water

Muddle the mint along with the lime juice and agave in a Collins glass, add ice and the rest of the ingredients, top with soda water. Garnish with fresh mint.