Andrew Guthrie was general manager of Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park for 15 years
Andrew Guthrie, who served for 15 years as general manager of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, died in the U.K. on July 24, friends have confirmed. Cause of death was cancer.
“We are saddened to learn of Andrew’s passing,” said Carla Reid, chairman of the Tourism Attractions Board which oversees park management.
“As the first general manager of the QEII Botanic Park, Andrew was responsible for developing the gardens that we visit and love today. During his 15 years at the park, he had many accomplishments, the most notable being bringing the park back to life after Hurricane Ivan [in September 2004] and the successful exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show in the U.K.
“In addition to being a vital part of the … team, his knowledge and love of plants led him to become actively involved in the Garden Club of Grand Cayman as well as the Cayman Islands Orchid Society,” Ms. Reid noted. “Andrew eagerly shared his expertise and I’m sure there are many people who will recall him fondly as they walk around their garden and see a plant he recommended or a design feature that he suggested.”
Mr. Guthrie was born in West Virginia, USA, in 1960. He studied agriculture and horticulture at West Virginia University and earned a diploma in botanic garden management from London’s Royal Botanic Gardens. After serving as curator for the Joseph Reynold O’Neal Botanic Gardens in the British Virgin Islands, he came to Cayman in March 1995.
During his tenure, the park’s visitors center was completed; the color and heritage gardens reached fruition; the captive breeding facility of the Blue Iguana Recovery Program expanded; the Orchid Society built a 600-foot boardwalk so that visitors could view orchids in their natural habitat; and staff developed a nursery to propagate plants for park displays and sales to the public.
In 2002, Mr. Guthrie collaborated with Dave Martins to produce the book, “Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park: One with Nature.”
His vision of a palm garden was just being realized when he resigned in May 2010 to take up the post of garden manager for the Royal Horticultural Society’s 240-acre Garden at Wisley in Surrey, England.
Before his departure, a Cayman Compass sister publication editorialized on Mr. Guthrie’s contributions to Cayman’s botanic park, and also noted, “He still credits a dedicated staff, volunteers and members for helping to keep the park sustainable.”
The editorial commented on “his charm, charisma and moxie,” pointing out that the park is ever-dependent on volunteers and members to keep it running, both through works and money. “Guthrie is blessed with knowing how to keep volunteers and donors motivated and interested,” the editorial said.
John Lawrus, current general manager of Cayman’s botanic park, expressed great sadness after being notified of his predecessor’s passing.
“Andrew was a friend and a mentor to me and was instrumental in getting me accustomed to my first position as the garden supervisor here at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park in 2001. Andrew Guthrie was crucial in the development of the park to where it stands today as a functioning botanic garden.”