Gardener, Anton Fiehe

Anton Fiehe“- a man who paints pictures with life’s real things…”

Landscape gardener, Anton Fiehe was selected by Mr. Plant to design, install and maintain the Tampa Bay Hotel grounds. Why Mr. Plant selected him is unknown, but the artistry of Fiehe’s work was a testament to Plant’s perceptiveness.

Anton Fiehe was born in Germany in 1849, immigrated to America in 1868, and became a naturalized citizen. He married Matilda Bell in 1879 and they came to Tampa in the late 1880’s. Soon after, the Tampa Bay Hotel’s 60-acre garden was turned over to Fiehe’s imagination and skill. Although Fiehe kept his design concept to himself – no written plans are known to exist – the garden featured characteristics of the Eclectic Style, with a tropical flair. Fiehe did, however, publish a plant list, the Catalogue and Manual of Tropical and Semi-Tropical Fruit and Flower Plants of the Tampa Bay Hotel Grounds in 1892 and 1894. It is a thorough documentation of the flora and includes asides by the gardener concerning some of his most familiar plants.

Mr. Anton Fiehe, florist and gardener in charge of the Tampa Bay Hotel conservatories and grounds laid the touch of his artistic finish to the table decoration. There were roses and roses and roses with the relief of some delicate green fern or moss. The wondrous talent of a man who paints pictures with life’s real things, is to be almost revered.”
Tampa Morning Tribune, 1896

Anton Fiehe was superintendent of the grounds until 1905, when the property was deeded to the city. He is listed in the Tampa City Directory between the years of 1906 and 1924 as the proprietor of the Tampa Floral Company, located in Gary, now the eastern edge of Ybor City. He developed a celery farm in the area and contributed in making Gary the celery capital of the world at that time. The landscape designs implemented by Mr. Fiehe at the Tampa Bay Hotel made the garden one of the most enchanting in the nation. His use of tropical plants, especially palms, and playfully shaped garden beds found popularity throughout the city and are still evident in Plant Park today.