The World of Crocuses by Janis Ruksana, Latvian Academy of Sciences, 2017. 368 pages, 1700+ color photos. Available online from the author for Î65.00
Given Janis Ruksans’ stature in the world of bulbs, I opened this book with very high expectations. Not only did it not disappoint, it exceeded my hopes. The book is an A to Z listing of every species of crocus (Yes, I mean EVERY species) written by a man who is a very accomplished academic botanist as well as a gardener and nurserymen.
The description of each plant starts off deeply technical, including every detail of morphology. If you are an academic botanist, this book will be an invaluable resource.
If you, like me, are very much not a botanist, but just a gardener with a hunger for cool unusual plants, this book is for you as well. Alongside the technical details there is all the information a gardener could ever want: photos of the species in the wild and in gardens, information about how it grows in the wild, notes on hybrids and named forms that you might be able to find and Ruksans’ own experience with cultivating the species in his own garden and nursery in Latvia.
If you would ever want to take a trip to see crocuses in the wild, each species description also tells you exactly where it grows, what habitat it occupies and when it flowers.
Taken together, this is a book that nay lover of crocuses – be they a botanist, gardener or bot – will appreciate.
Joseph Tychonievich is the editor of the Rock Garden Quarterly and the author of Rock Gardening: Reimagining a Classic Style. He's currently in the process of moving his garden from Michigan to Virginia and learning the pros and cons of growing in a warmer climate.