Throughout this busy spring season, I’m going to try to post the events open to the public where Chris is speaking. Just thought some of you might be interested! If you’re going to be near El Dorado, AR on March 16th, Chris and I would love to see you! Please contact Charlotte at 870-862-1099 to RSVP and purchase tickets for this event.
In preparation for Chris’ talk in El Dorado, AR, the El Dorado News-Times printed the following article:
Courtesy of El Dorado News-Times
By Janice McIntyre
What started out as a hobby and college project has now become a lucrative business for “the bulb hunter,” Chris Wiesinger. It also requires lots of work.
Wiesinger, sponsored locally by the Union County Master Gardeners, will tell stories of his adventures finding rare and heirloom flower bulbs, will bring bulbs to sell and will demonstrate the best ways to plant bulbs, from 9:30 a.m. until noon on March 16 at First Assembly of God Church, 2225 W. Hillsboro in El Dorado. Cost is $10 per person.
“I like bulbs – there is something magical about bulbs – you don’t know what it is until the flower blooms,” Wiesinger said recently during a telephone interview.
He started his business, “Southern Bulb Company,” in 2003 and said his company really began to take off and expand when a story about him appeared in 2006 in the New York Times. After that, requests for Chris to speak began pouring in at the business, based in Mineola, Texas.
When he first started the business, he set out to recapture something that was once “lost” to the Southern gardener – bulbs that thrive in warm climates – many that are rare, heirloom or both. He founded The Southern Bulb Company to share his finds with the world. Visit SouthernBulbs.com to find these unique bulbs.
Chris said he has found bulbs “everywhere” – from California to Arkansas, Texas and other southern states. He said since he began the company, he doesn’t have as much time to travel the countryside in search of rare bulbs and now people call him to tell him about their bulbs.
“Mr. Wiesinger makes a living finding pretty things in ravaged places. In 2003 he started the Southern Bulb Company with the aim of reintroducing flowers long out of vogue, committing himself exclusively to those that have ably asserted themselves against the particular cruelties of exceedingly hot weather for decades, even centuries,” according to the New York Times story.
Since the New York Times story of his life as a bulb collector and farmer, Chris has been known nationally as “The Bulb Hunter.”
In addition to running his business, he has gained attention for his motivational, educational and entertaining speeches on the challenges of small business life and the passion of reclaiming heirloom flower bulbs that had once fallen out of fashion and off the market.
He has presented to over 100 garden clubs and groups including: North American Flowerbulb Wholesalers Association – February 2009; Perennial Plant Association – Atlanta, Ga., October 2008; Cemetery Preservation Workshop – National Park Service, La., September 2008; Founders Garden Club – Dallas, March 2008; AllBusiness.com Interview – Spring 2008; Martha Stewart Radio – Spring 2007; Potomac Chapter of National Rock Garden Society – Washington, D.C., January 2007; American Museum Society – Houston, November 2006; Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation – Hempstead, Texas, November 2006 and the Antique Rose Emporium – Independence, Texas, November 2006.
He has co-authored two books, “Heirloom Bulbs for Today” – Bright Sky Press (Fall 2010), co-author Cherie Colburn, illustrated by Loela Barry and “The Bulb Hunter” – Texas A&M University Press (Fall 2013), co-author Dr. William Welch.
He has appeared in over two dozen publications nationwide including House and Garden Magazine 2005 “Top 50 Tastemaker;” New York Times feature story “The Bulb Hunter” July 6, 2006; “Southern Living” feature article in 2008 and Southern Living “Plant Bulbs Now” October 2009.
Chris is a 2004 graduate of Texas A&M University, where he majored in horticulture and floriculture, and was a member of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. He founded the Southern Bulb Co. from a college project upon graduation.
“While the pursuit of heirloom botanicals may have an air of elitism about it, Mr. Wiesinger goes after what one might think of as the Barbara Stanwycks of floriculture: resilient flowers without patrician connotation that thrive in areas largely lost to the economic revival of the New South. His is the world of old cotton towns, condemned properties, abandoned buildings and houses where torn sofas crest on bowed porch fronts.
“Most of the time you’re not finding this stuff in the fancy neighborhoods around Dallas,” he said, “but in places where people couldn’t afford to plant new things.”
Drawing on a business plan he devised as a senior in Texas A&M’s horticulture program, he collected the bulbs and now propagates them on his small farm in Mineola, about two hours east of Dallas. Afterward, he distributes them to nurseries and over the Internet through his Web site, southernbulbs.com.
The advantage of heirlooms generally is not merely that they speak to a cultural interest in nostalgia but that they tend to prosper efficiently, requiring less water, spraying and vigilance. “These kinds of plants are like comfort food,” explained Felder Rushing, a horticulturist in Jackson, Miss. “They can be taken care of almost instinctually.”
Chris is the son of an oil-industry executive. He grew up in Houston and California, where he attended Bakersfield Christian High School and played football. One day in his junior year, someone dropped off a few boxes of bare-root roses as a donation to the school. Chris planted them and so began his interest in gardening.
“Anyone sent to detention had to come out and help me weed,” he said during the New York Times Home and Garden interview.
When he comes to El Dorado, Chris will share his knowledge of versatile, sustainable and low-maintenance bulbs. He will address common questions and explain the characteristics, history and ways to use each bulb.
His book, “Heirloom Bulbs for Today,” not only tells the culture of the plant, but also the culture of the people who grew the plant.
On June 5, 2010, Chris married Rebecca Joy Shenk in The Woodlands, Texas. Rebecca then joined Chris in the little red cabin by the bulb farm. Together they farm 10 acres of flowers – growing everything from daffodils and tulips to rain lilies and amaryllis. Rebecca also coordinates the office and bulb orders and schedules and coordinates Chris’ speaking engagements.
For tickets to hear the “Bulb Hunter,” contact Charlotte Abbott for reservations call 870-862-1099.
The mailing address for The Southern Bulb Company is P.O. Box 350, Golden, Texas 75444. The website is www.southernbulbs.com.