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Cayman preps for ‘gardening Olympics’

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By: James Dimond23 April, 2008

Staff at the Queen Elizabeth II Royal Botanic Park are putting the final touches on a Caymanian heritage garden that will be exhibited at the ‘Olympics of gardening’, the UK’s Chelsea Flower Show, this May.

It’s the first time the Cayman Islands has exhibited at the show, and will mark the first time many of Cayman’s native plants will be seen in the UK.

Almost 170,000 people attend the show every year, with tickets usually selling out in advance.

‘It’s a huge opportunity for us because it’s considered the premiere flower show in the world,’ said Andrew Guthrie, general manager of the park.

The exhibit will recreate a traditional Caymanian cottage and sand garden, featuring a range of native plants.

The garden will also feature a range of locally made heritage items including woven thatch baskets, a rosemary broom, thatch rope, a pair of whompers and a miniature replica catboat.

The catboat, Botanic Cat, has been designed and constructed by local catboat expert Kem Jackson.

‘It’s a beautiful boat,’ said the park’s Deputy General Manager John Lawrus. ‘It’s authentically made with a very high level of craftsmanship, so we are very proud to have it in our exhibit.’

Mr. Lawrus said he hoped the boat’s inclusion would help bring international recognition to the catboat and its distinctive place in Caymanian history.

The initiative has been driven by the Department of Tourism’s London Office, which, according to Mr. Guthrie, sees a good fit between the demographics of people attending the show and the demographics of people they want to attract to the Cayman Islands.

The Chelsea Flower Show runs from 20 to 24 May.

 

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