John P. Gutting

[ Age 63 ] Award-winning landscape architect was one of the first to push for the planting of indigenous species

January 08, 2007|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Reporter

John Philip Gutting, a landscape architect who was an early promoter of planting local indigenous species to create natural settings, died of a heart attack Dec. 31 at his Church Hill home. He was 63.

He was hailed in Native Plants magazine in 2003 as a "regional pioneer in the use of native plants for more than 30 years." He was a proponent of protecting natural surroundings.

"John was a committed environmentalist with an unequaled passion for trying to create landscape vistas that were beautiful, inviting, unique and true to the idea of using native species that belonged in their place," said Don Jackson, the director of operations at St. John's College in Annapolis, where Mr. Gutting had completed several projects.

Mr. Jackson said that Mr. Gutting completed the installation of walkways and landscaping last month for a section of the Annapolis campus surrounding two dormitories.

Over the past three decades, his designs included those for St. John's College, for which he created a long-term plan for a layered look of indigenous species; several parks, Terrapin Nature Park in Stevensville among them; several Chestertown and Kent County sites; and many private properties, according to his wife of 40 years, Suzanne Flaer Gutting.

Speaking about a five-year growth plan for Queen Anne's County, Mr. Gutting told The Sun in 1993: "Essentially we are creating a sculpture, for which the county is the physical base. The end result should be pleasurable to look at."

He was the recipient of several awards. Among them was a prestigious national urban planning and design award given by Progressive Architecture magazine in 1982. He and an architect were noted for their plan to rehabilitate a blighted section of historic Chestertown. His work was recognized in Chesapeake Life, Mid-Atlantic Country and Southern Living magazines.

Born in Shelbyville, Ind., he graduated from Annapolis High School in 1961 and received a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois in 1969. He married Suzanne Flaer in 1966.

In 1970, the couple moved to Annapolis, where he established a landscape design business. They moved to the Eastern Shore eight years later.

A conservation easement on their 70-acre Church Hill home and property was donated to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in 1979.

Mr. Gutting was a charter member of the Friends of Church Hill Preservation, a group started in the 1980s to save the Church Hill Theatre.

In 2004, he was among landowners who donated a conservation easement to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust in Canada to protect 600 acres along the shoreline of Gold River Lake and surrounding forests. He received the organization's legacy award.

He enjoyed photography, fishing, running, cycling and basketball.

A funeral was held Saturday.

In addition to his wife, survivors include his mother, Betty Morris Gutting of Chestertown; two brothers, Graham Gutting of Abilene, Texas, and Peter Gutting of Winthrop, Mass.; two sisters, Anne Gutting and Sarah Sheehan, both of Winthrop, Mass.; a son, Jeffrey Gutting of West Chester, Pa.; two daughters, Rani Fordi of Chestertown and Elizabeth Gutting of Baltimore; and three grandchildren.

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