Texas Living

Bulbs that Beat the Heat


Chris Wiesinger sees something on the side of the road and slams on the breaks. A hunch compels him to pull over and get out. He surveys the scene and decides to head into a stand of dark trees. He walks cautiously, carefully, aware of each step he takes and the sound it makes, his eyes search, his heart quickens. He’s sure he knows what he’ll find.

No, Wiesinger isn’t a character from a crime novel, though he is a detective. Some people call him “The Bulb Hunter,” (OK, people = New York Times) and he is on a furious hunt for flowers. Specifically, the heirloom bulbs that thrive in the Texas heat and humidity but have fallen out of vogue for some time, bulbs first brought to Texas by the earliest settlers and come back year after year bright and vibrant, each generation, like those first Texans, sturdier than the last. Chris will tell you these flowers hold the key to sustainable gardening: they are as local as you can get and repeat every year with terrific results.

Narcissus, amaryllis, paperwhites, oxblood lilies, and daffodils, these are the flowers Chris loves, finds near abandoned farmhouses, in the shade of wooded areas, on the edges of the highway, and replants on his flower farm in East Texas to sell at garden shows, through nurseries, and online at www.southernbulbs.com.

He is very serious about preserving a little part of Texas heritage and travels across the state speaking to gardening aficionados, small business groups, and anyone looking to find small ways they can reduce their footprint on our earth.

Chris’ goal? Well, besides bringing back the flowers your grandma cherished, he’s out to spread the word about the beauty of simple, effective Southern heirloom bulbs. Look for his book The Bulb Hunter from Texas A&M Press coming fall 2013.