Who are the plant crazy plant hunters?

Meet the Botanical Bytes Team

     My wife and I have 45+ years of combined experience in the field of horticulture. This experience has given us a strong foundation to pursue our passion for plants. We have spent time in many facets of the horticulture industry throughout the United States including our current state of South Carolina as well as Minnesota, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. These experiences have shaped our ability to adapt to a wide variety of climates.


    Our adventures have taken us from small Mom and Pop retail nurseries to large retail nurseries as well as large wholesale growers. Annuals, perennials, shrubs, or trees ... if it's a plant, we have probably grown or sold it at some point in our careers.


    One thing is a constant through it all. Our passion and love for plants and the people who grow them give us the drive to educate the public. We have a desire to use the knowledge we have gained to spread the word about the joys and fulfillment achieved through plants and gardening.

Gregory Bruner - Botanical Bytes Founder and Plant Hunter

    Botanical Bytes is my creation and passion. It is a culmination of 24 years of loving plants and people. The horticultural adventure began at Farmer Fulk's Greenhouses—a uniquely wonderful family-operated greenhouse in Maryland that specialized in annuals and perennials, a rarity in a world of tree and shrub nurseries. My love of the world of herbaceous plants was sealed early in my career.


    During my early years of horticultural adventures, I obtained a degree from Delaware College of Science and Agriculture. This small four-year college utilized a unique combination of hands-on learning and traditional textbook information to give me an incredible base of knowledge. Most importantly, I met the most wonderful companion, an incredible woman who shared my passion for horticulture and eventually became my wife. She is my wife, best friend, and head horticultural consultant.

    Then it was off to the frozen wonderland of Minnesota. While my wife was in graduate school at the University on Minnesota, I worked a short stint at Linder's Garden Center, where I was introduced to roses, shrubs, and trees. I quickly became the lead salesman in the rose house, interacting with the wonderful gardeners of the Twin Cities. Here I honed my skills in customer service, enjoying the challenges of finding the right solutions to all my customers' plant issues.


    Landscape Alternatives was the next stop on my travels, literally down the street from Linder's. Landscape Alternatives was an incredible specialty nursery with a huge diversity of Minnesota native wildflowers. My true love was finally discovered. Native plants are the building blocks for a strong foundation in a good plant education. Because many of our favorite perennials are genetically linked to natives, learning where they grow in the wild taught me the best places in the garden to utilize them.


    When my wife's career brought me southward, I returned to a customer service role at Plant-It Nursery, a small family-owned operation in Anderson, South Carolina.  I spent my time there strengthening my ability to assist gardeners in selecting the right plant for the right spot. During this period I gained knowledge of gardening in the south and expanded my knowledge of trees and shrubs. 


    The next step in the horticultural tour was working as a growers assistant at Yoder Brothers and then Tri-B Nurseries, both based at a greenhouse facility in Pendleton, South CarolinaThis introduced me to the large-scale side of the horticultural industry at propagation and production levels. One of the greatest things gained from these experiences was an increased knowledge of many of the insects and disease pests common to plants and gardening.


    Stacys Wholesale Nursery then moved into the Pendleton, South Carolina facility. Stacys provided me the opportunity to help manage their product trials department. This allowed me to see into another portion of the industry on a scale I had not previously experienced.The ability to see plants before they were introduced into the market was exciting. It was like having a window into the future.

    The immersion in large-scale horticulture removed me from everyday contact with gardeners, which was half of my life's passion. Plants without the people was just not enough, so Botanical Bytes was born. The next chapter in my horticultural adventure is beginning, and I hope you will be there with me.

Christi Bruner - Native Wildflower Expert and Horticulturalist


     A little about the Wildflower Lady … My parents have always called me their “flower child born a decade too late.” I have been a plant person for as long as I can remember, wanting my parents to read to me about photosynthesis as a three-year-old and being unable to wait for the package to arrive from Gurney’s with all of our garden seeds including my $.01 children’s garden packet.


        Later I got my real start in horticulture helping with the organic/sustainable vegetable farm my father and grandparents operated on my grandparents’ land. I quickly discovered that I preferred the organic produce from my family’s farm to that produced by our friends at our Farmer’s Markets. This was the starting point for the philosophy that has shaped much of who I am today, preferring a natural approach to plants and life in general.


        I quickly discovered that I enjoyed working with flowers more than veggies. When I headed off to school, I made greenhouses and flowering crops my focus. Coming from the drought-stricken plains of Northeastern Colorado, I dreamed of breeding perennial flowers with greater drought tolerance so that people could enjoy flowering plants in our arid climate in spite of the water restrictions that are commonplace in most communities. This dream would lead me from my undergraduate studies at DelawareValley College in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and summers interning with a national producer of bedding plant plugs and rooted poinsettia cuttings to graduate school at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul.


        While at the University of Minnesota, I had the opportunity to explore working with plant tissue culture, a skill I hope to someday have the facilities to use in furthering my passion for sustainably producing native plants. My first exposure to native plants came during this time when I convinced my husband to apply for a position with a small nursery focusing exclusively on natives. As he learned more about native plants and shared this knowledge with me, we both became passionate about the concept of gardening with natives.  I realized then that rather than focusing on creating new varieties as the key to the drought tolerance, I should be looking to return to the plants that grew in those areas without human interference—the species that would allow gardeners to enjoy their beauty even under the most extreme of conditions. This discovery would eventually change the direction of our lives.


        While in Minnesota, I became part of what is now one of the largest independent garden centers in the United States. During my three years there I spent time as a grower in production, as a nursery salesperson and customer service expert, and as a designer of custom Christmas wreaths. I learned a great deal during this time about interacting with the public and how to help gardeners select the “right plant for the right site.” This philosophy drives me in how I work with my clients to this day.


        Eventually my career led us to South Carolina, where I worked for two years in a very different environment as the grower in a facility that produced clean stock for an international propagation program. The stringent conditions in this facility required special handling of plant materials and zero tolerance of insects and disease.


        When this program was moved into tissue culture at a facility in Florida, I entered the current phase of my career, one that is far removed from the insect-screened sterile environment of clean stock. I began working with stock plants rescued from wild areas that are being destroyed and cuttings taken from roadsides being mowed. I struck out on my own, and Carolina Wild nursery was born. Built on nothing but the power of a dream, the hard work of a family, and a willingness to constantly learn and educate others, Carolina Wild is recognized regionally among native plant enthusiasts and is growing for the future.