Passing of a friend: Andrew Pierce

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Andrew Pierce, past Director, Assistant Director, Propagator and Conservatory Superintendent at Denver Botanic Gardens, passed away early this morning (Saturday, September 17), at his home with his family around him. Andrew was well known and universally loved and respected by his peers throughout the Rocky Mountain Region and beyond. He was born in Kent, England and graduated from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew's horticultural training program, and was always a loyal "Kewite." He brought the rigor and intellectual prowess of that training to Denver BotanicGardens in the mid-1970's when he was instrumental in helping transform this still fledgling institution that had little true botanical gardening going on in it  into what we enjoy today.

Hired initially to oversee the Conservatory as Superintendent, he raised the production standards and scope of the greenhouse complex and propagation ranges. He instituted our Index Seminum, and later designed (along with Lainie Jackson) our very first Perennial Border, accelerating our transformation from a Victorian Carpet bedding showcase to true botanical displays and collections.

Andrew possessed a truly astonishing range of knowledge and experience. I have ever met anyone who had a broader knowledge of the Plant Kingdom. Show him a twig of a tropical tree, an obscure herbaceous perennial cultivar or a high alpine cushion plant and he would likely know the botanical name and a good deal of scientific lore about it. He loved people, and was a true friend and mentor to many of us. I doubt that I would have stayed at Denver Botanic Gardens my first few challenging years were it not for his attentiveness, his guidance and above all his warmth of heart and irrepressible humor. I know many others would say the same.

Perhaps one of Andrew's greatest and unsung legacies will be  Denver Botnaic Gardens' presence on Mount Goliath. It was he who first took me and many others down that trail, who trained the first volunteer docents and who championed that magnificent locale. I do not believe that Mount Goliath would be what it is today without his initial inspiration.

I know I shall think of Andrew frequently throughout the rest of my life--when I admire a glorious border in bloom, or see the first crocuses in my rock garden. And when we all descend through that fragrant forest of ancient Bristlecones on Mount Goliath, we shall certainly feel his kind and gentle presence striding almost palpably nearby.

Category: 
At the Gardens

Comments

Loraine Yeatts
Dick and I are deeply saddened to know that our wonderful friend has found his final resting place. He and Gina provided companionship and enthusiasm on many shared botanical adventures. One notable hike took us 16 mi. roundtrip to discover the headwaters of the Colorado River in Rocky Mountain Park. Andrew proclaimed the Park porta-potty near the continental divide to be the real source of the Colorado River. Andrew, the memory of your constant friendship, optimism and laughter will continue to guide us through the fields of flowers you loved. You have left a void in our hearts.
Lina Fletcher
I am so sad to hear of Andrew's passing. He was indeed a skilled and passionate horticulturist. A kind and gentle man who loved to share his love of plants with everyone. I will always be grateful to him for taking time to attend our garden club meeting back in the 1990's to share the work he was doing at Hudson Gardens. God bless his family. Rest in peace dear friend.
Rod Haenni
Andrew was a warm and kind man, easy to know and always interested in whatever I was doing with plants. He kindly shared names of friends in New Zealand for me to visit (back in 1981) which helped make the trip even more enjoyable for me. He did not want to leave DBG but then made the best of his considerable skills at Hudson Gardens and put Hudson on a frim horticultural footing that it would not otherwise have. I will miss his smile, his easy laugh and his enthusiasm.
Hugh MacMillan
Quite a few years ago now I was new to the local chapter of NARGS and quite intimidated by the breadth of experience and knowledge by many of the members. I remember my first field trip well. Out of the crowd gathering to car pool came Andrew, beaming with hand out, his booming, right proper English proclaiming 'Hello, you will love this group!' Andrew taught us many things, but most importantly, how to live. He is missed.
Mary Goshorn
I first met Andrew Pierce when I moved to Littleton in 1997 and discovered Hudson Gardens. I took several of his classes and was inspired by his obvious passion for, and knowledge about, anything botanical. I credit him with nudging along my growing realization that botany was where I wanted to be. Thank you, Andrew, for being such an great example of a true botanist, and spreading your passion.
Olie Webb
I've known many knowledgeable people in my lifetime--but none like Andrew Pierce! We became friends at DBG and later at Hudson Gardens. When he left and retired we tried to have lunch together every month or so even after he became ill. He took his illness in stride like he did everything else in his life. His life was a great adventure to be admired, maybe envied, and certainly appreciated by those of us fortunate enough to have known him. As Panayoti pointed out his horticultural legacy is ours to enjoy and maintain. He will not be forgotten!
Mark McCauley
From the minute I met Andrew when I was an intern, he inspired me, and likely will forever. He was an institution. He will be dearly missed.
Gene Schwarz
I'm truly saddened on losing Andrew. Although Joan had the good fortune to spend more time with Andrew, every time we met he greeted me with such enthusiasm asking what I was doing, how my writing was progressing in Andrew's way, which would always make me feel he really wanted to know. He was a born nurturer, helping his plants and people bloom. I will miss him.
mary jenson
It is with great sadness that I read of Andrew's passing. I did not know him as well as many of you, but in the short couple of years I have known him, he made me feel like a long time friend. I remember hiking with him on one of our guide training sessions before the Salida conference. He always had all the time in the world to stop and look at what you were asking about. You never felt like a bother to him. What a gift he was.
Panayoti Kelaidis
I am heartened to see so many of Andrew's friends posting here: I feel less alone in my pain at his loss. I hope you all know there will be a memorial service on Monday evening, October 3rd in Mitchell Hall here at Denver Botanic Gardens. There was also a writeup about him in the Denver Post: http://www.denverpost.com/obituaries/ci_18948571 I can only imagine how many other people Andrew touched profoundly who have not posted here...
Gene & Dee ...
Having known Andrew for many years during his time at Denver Botanic Gardens and Hudson Gardens, we honor and deeply appreciate his legacy. We will always remember his generosity, sense of humor, charming wit and enthusiasm for life as well as his vast botanical knowledge. It was a joy and a privilege to have been in his company on many occasions.
John Brink
I can still hear Andrew's voice in my mind and remember his unbridled enthusiasm for all things horticultural. He was generous in sharing his knowledge and never seemed to mind pitching in to help with any task that needed to be done. In particular, I recall how the hours flew by as I listened to his gardening stories while packaging seed with him for the NARGS seed exchange a few years ago. I will remember Andrew with great admiration and respect.

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