By Meda Kessler
Photo by Aaron Dougherty and Meda Kessler
Stephanie Bergmann’s passion for rooting around in the dirt runs deep.
Stephanie Bergmann is an occupational therapist by day and an avid gardener whenever she gets a minute of free time to herself. She’s also the owner of The Fox and Flower, and as a floral designer, is inspired by nature and what’s growing in her own gardens. At her Fort Worth home near TCU, you can’t help but stop and gawk at the different colored irises growing in the front bed. Feather grass waves gently in a morning breeze as bees flit among the blooms. Once you enter a gate into the narrow side yard, you feel like you’re in a different world. Lady Banks roses and clematis line a wood fence; hellebores and hostas border the shady flagstone path. Alliums poke their heads up throughout. In the backyard, five different gardens contain more irises, oak leaf hydrangeas, blooming sages, amaryllises, salvias, yarrow, dahlias and daisies.
“I’m not a disciplined gardener,” she says with a laugh. Her passion took root early. “Years ago, I didn’t have a lot of money and was a single parent, so I couldn’t afford to buy many plants. But the house I lived in in Fort Worth had this really rich soil. Everything grew there. And when I moved, I took a little bit of my garden with me. I’ve brought some of my grandmother’s bridal wreath spirea to Texas, along with poppies from Illinois. I’ve also moved peonies and transplanted them with success.”
She’s a collector of seeds and plants, and always is on the lookout for something that might need saving. “I’ll do a little urban pruning as long as I’m not trespassing.” It’s also what she enjoys as a member of the Fort Worth Garden Club. “You get a lot of seeds and advice,” she says. But she doesn’t baby her garden, which she has transformed in four years from a blank space. If something doesn’t grow, it’s either moved or removed and not invited back. She loves heirloom varieties you don’t find in typical garden centers. “I love unusual things; plant varieties that have managed to survive for years.”
As an occupational therapist, Bergmann has remained busy in the past month, even as other health disciplines have shut down. Her routine is to water and pick weeds in the morning. “My husband is getting into the garden more. We’re up at 6 or 6:15, and we go through the garden together to check it out.” She does enjoy the solitude, too. “It’s the one place that allows me to not think about anything; I just listen to the birds, and my mind is at rest.”