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The Bulb Hunter - New York Times

The Bulb Hunter - New York Times

By Ginia Bellafante
Published:July 6, 2006

A few weeks ago Chris Wiesinger traveled to the most forlorn area of Lufkin, Tex., an old railroad town not too far from the border of Louisiana, and from the window of his Ford-F-150 pickup almost immediately noticed Zephyranthes grandiflora. At 25, he is rarely prone to effusion, but the sight of the flower caused him to smile in such a way that his whole face rippled, like a pool of water into which a pebble has been thrown.

The plant, more typically known as a rain lily, was blooming on a vacant lot surrounded by four bungalows, all of them boarded up. "There's nothing else here," Mr. Wiesinger said as he walked towards the flowers. "It never gets touched or cared for, and just look at it. Well, my goodness."

Mr. Wiesinger makes a living finding pretty things in ravaged places. In 2004 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.

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 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."

(Full article at the link above.)

In a time when plant hunters no longer create front page news I think this story is incredible and important so the big box garden centers that is mostly available to many of us create McGardens.


  1. That was a truly inspiring story. Living in Hawaii I can grow many of those bulbs and brought Zephyranthes grandiflora seed from Florida from the house where I grew up.

    It has been a great and reliable bloomer for me here. I should have taken a picture about three days ago when it had about a dozen blooms at once. Next time.

  2. Anonymous12:00 PM

    It is wonderful to know that these bulbs are being made available in the market. So often Southern gardeners waste their money and even more importantly (in my opinion) their time and efforts on bulbs meant for the Northern climates. I say "HORRAY" to Southern Bulbs for bringing these bulbs to us!

  3. Thanks for the feedback to the both of you. I agree that it's important to grow what does well instead of what you had or saw somewhere else.



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