Tampa’s warm winter weather offered a particularly ideal landscape to grow a variety of plants from around the world. Henry Plant hired German gardener Anton Fiehe as Head Gardner at the Tampa Bay Hotel. Fiehe created lavish landscapes of flowering plants, tropical trees and unique statues. He imported over 70 varieties of exotic fruits and flowering plants to create this paradise. Mr. Plant traveled to Jamaica to personally select rare tropical plants.
The ceramic garden seats, which are displayed in The Garden and Garden Furnishings Room, were made in England, Germany, China and Japan and purchased during the Plants’ European buying trips. Visitors enjoy the contrast between the elegant European designs, Asian nature scenes in relief and the whimsical Bohemian motifs. A photograph on the wall shows that some of the seats were placed along the walkway of the east entrance, and provided beautiful and comfortable resting places for guests.
Garden seats were also used inside the Hotel’s Solarium, along with briarwood benches and Chinese tables. The Solarium was a window-filled room which connected the main portion of the Hotel to the dining areas. Guests who had been advised by a physician to visit the warm southern climate would seek often refuge in this attractive space.
After you visit the Museum, walk along the main hall of the building and you will pass through the Solarium on your way to the Dining Room, now called Fletcher Lounge.