Why We Give: John and Audrey
Couple’s Love for Gardening Leads to Generosity

John and Audrey Steinfeld Audrey Steinfeld

John and Audrey Steinfeld knew they wanted to garden together when they were newlyweds. The couple’s first house, however, posed a challenge.

“We had maple trees with massive root systems and too much shade,” Audrey said. “We loved the house; we loved the neighborhood. But gardening? Forget it. I said to John, ‘If we’re going to garden, we’re going to have to move.’”

The couple searched for the right house for three years. They moved into the perfect home in Town & Country in 1983 and lived there the remainder of their lives. John passed away in 2005 and Audrey in 2010. Signs of their love of gardening remain in the landscape they created during their 20-plus years at the house.

Their legacy lives on in other ways, too. John and Audrey made a gift to the Missouri Botanical Garden that provided funding for the Justin A. and Rose J. Naumann Experimental Garden. The Experimental Garden is named in memory of Audrey’s parents, who also loved to tinker in the yard.

The Naumann Experimental Garden is a quarter-acre site at the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening. It helps visitors learn how to improve soils, increase yield, control pests, and evaluate plant selections.

“The experimental garden just seemed right,” Audrey explained in 2010. “John and I were amateurs. We were always experimenting. My parents had experimented in their gardens too.”

In fact, Justin Naumann grew blueberry bushes in his front yard in his final years. Audrey remembered her dad plucking ripe fruit from them each summer. She was delighted when she visited the experimental garden for the first time and saw blueberry bushes growing at the entrance.

John and Audrey’s contribution to the Missouri Botanical Garden was the first of many philanthropic gifts to the St. Louis community. The couple named the Garden in their estate plans because, as Audrey’s explained, “it is important to support places like the Garden.”