For their 25th anniversary, the Smith County Master Gardeners will once again host their Bulbs to Blooms Conference and Sale.  This year’s conference will feature “The Bulb Hunter,” Chris Wiesinger, of The Southern Bulb Company and myself.

In addition to owning The Southern Bulb Company ( Chris is a 2004 horticulture graduate of Texas A&M University and co-author of The Bulb Hunter (2013, Texas A&M University Press).  Chris will share how he fell in love with bulbs and how he got into the bulb farming business.  He will also tell attendees about the special East Texas grown bulbs he is bringing for sale after the lectures.

I will present a pictorial history of my life with heirloom bulbs, share how I was a bulb farmer and conference speaker at the very first Smith County Master Gardener bulb sale, and extoll the virtues of my own bulbs I am bringing for the in-person sale that day as well.

The lectures begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, 21 October, at Pollard United Methodist Church (3030 New Copeland Road, Tyler).  In addition to having access to unique locally grown bulbs, attendees will also have a chance to win fabulous door prizes, including two wonderful, two-night getaway packages, and a “super-sampler” of Texas grown bulbs.

Get-away Package Number One is a two-night stay at The House of Seasons, Lady Bird Suite, in historic Jefferson, Texas valued at $500.  Get-away Package Number Two is a two-night stay (king room) at Church Street Inn, a boutique hotel in historic Natchitoches, Louisiana valued at $1000.

After the door prizes are awarded, there will be a mini “Run for the Bulbs” when the special bulbs farmed by both speakers are presented for sale; first come; first served.  In addition, Chris will be available to sign copies of his Bulb Hunter books and I will be around to sign copies of my Heirloom Gardening in the SouthTexas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, and The Rose Rustlers.

The Smith County Master Gardener online bulb webstore ( will remain open until 1 p.m. on Wednesday October 18.  Bulbs featured in the on-line sale are all locally-trialed, hardy, heirloom, and hard-to-find – some of them rarely available for sale.  A small selection of hardy trees and shrubs, along with autographed books by both speakers, plus the new SCMG 2024 calendar and garden guide are available for pre-order.  Anything ordered from the webstore must be picked up between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Saturday October 21, beginning immediately after the conference.

During pick-up hours, there will be a plethora of Smith County Master Gardeners to answer gardening questions; “bonus” bulbs, artwork, and tee shirts for sale; children’s activities, and more helping them celebrate this exciting milestone.  

The Smith County Master Gardeners have worked diligently for a quarter of a century identifying and making available long-lived, Earth-Kind bulbs that don’t require irrigation, pesticides, or fertilizer.

For more information, visit the Smith County Master Gardener website at or follow them on Facebook.  Proceeds from the sale support horticulture education in Smith County, the Tyler Botanical Garden, and scholarships for horticulture students at Texas A&M and Stephen F. Austin State Universities.  Smith County Master Gardeners are trained volunteer educators coordinated by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.