by Jānis Rukšāns
Timber Press, January 2011
List price: $45.00
It's not often that you see a book that claims to be a complete guide about anything that truly is complete, but Crocuses: A Complete Guide to the Genus lives up to its title - at least for now. As is the case in the rest of the botanical world, new species are being discovered all the time. Currently, there are around 100 species of crocus found the world over and every one of them is in here.
My experience with crocuses is not unlike that of other gardeners. I knew of the commonly available varieties - those rays of sunshine that usher in spring with charming, delightful delicacy. In recent years, I was introduced to the fall-blooming species, including Crocus sativus - saffron crocus - from which the spice is taken. This book contains 300 color photographs and they alone opened my eyes to the richness of the genus, of which I'd previously had no idea.
Rukšāns is one of the foremost authorities on crocuses and not surprisingly, has a crocus cultivar named for him. (It's gorgeous, with stripes on the outside of its petals.) He wrote Crocuses in language that can be understood by the everyday gardener, but this book will likely be more appealing to those who wish to gain a more detailed and thorough look at the genus.
Jānis Rukšāns has been growing bulbs since age twelve and since 1991 has operated his own bulb nursery in his native Latvia, specializing in rare and unusual bulbs. He has taken part in several expeditions searching for new bulbs throughout Europe and Central Asia.