by Dr. Janis Ruksans & Liga Popova


The last day of July. For me it was short relating plants. Outside was 34 C (in greenhouse + 54 C), almost impossible to work, but I was going to buy new pots - just got call from my supplier that new party of Poppelman pots from Germany came - 15x15x20 cm. I just became short with them. By the way I visited TV Studio where was recorded some short talk of me about history of our freedom fighting 30 years ago.
But in early morning hours I finished repotting of current Crocus bed - there were C. tournefortii, hadriaticus, thomasii, oreocreticus, but I started with Cretan pumilus. Crop of those were more or less good. Some losses between hadriaticus and again mostly between stocks bought from other growers in West. From mine own gatherings I was mostly disappointed with so named C. hadriaticus form from near vil. Papigo near Vikos Canyon in NW Greece. It is most beautiful, comparatively dwarf form, but the worth grower from all hadriaticus. I even suppose that it could be different taxon, but for this is needed further research and comparing. May be this autumn I will revisit locality and surroundings.
Greatest part of crocuses are repotted - left around 15%. Hope to finish at start of the next week. In general left only autumn crocuses, but always appear some mis-placed and earlier unnoticed spring blooming stocks. Today such was my cultivar 'Yalta'. It is very famous crocus seedling got from C. tommasinianus seeds, which I collected during visit to Nikitsky Botanical Garden in Yalta. I donated some 20 corms to Dutch bulbgrower Jan Pennings and he is growing it on few acres and it became most popular and widespread of crocuses raised by me. But I hate its name! Why? The Yalta for all people of Baltic states (Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania) associates with Yalta conference where Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt at end of 2nd World War sold Baltic states to "Papa Jo" - Joseph Stalin.  My usual custom was to name cultivars after locality from where they came - so there was given name 'Yalta'. Under such name it is registered and known and I can't more to change its name. At that time I didn't associated it with Yalta Conference (it was during deep Soviet Years when different history was teached in schools).

I want to give you possibility to watch one more fragment from our XXVI national Choir Festival (the first was in 1873). It is fragment from cantata written by Latvian composer Lucia Garuta "God, Your Land is on Fire". It was written in 1944, and the first concerto was in church of St. Gertrude in Riga few days before Soviet Army reoccupied Riga, naming it as "liberation". The church was full and people staying on street. Singed choir of most famous Latvian Singers. Riga was bombed by soviet army, old Riga was in flame. Just after concerto singers runned to the last ship for refugees leaving Riga. The main theme is question to God - why you left us in hands of Eastern barbarians? What we did so bad, that you left us? If you will open link you will hear dramatical music of organ followed by choir who sings " Paternoster ". When I'm singing it and hearing this music I can't stop tears in my eyes, and you will see close-ups of many singers with tears on face (my close-up is at very end - when sounds "Amen". You can watch and hear this small fragment of cantata, which we singed during Festival, following link:


Wednesday, 01 August 2018 08:48

Yesterday I started with crocuses from Israel, Syria and Jordan. They grew so well as never before. I never got so huge corms of Crocus ochroleucus, but they formed no one cormlet (forms got from Oron Peri and collected by myself in Israel). Single exception was ochroleucus got from Potterton & Martin - there were many cormlets and main bulbs were smaller, too.
Then followed species from kotschyanus group. Again I was surprised for the long shoots formed by C. cappadocicus - you can see those on attached picture - gridlines 5 mm). But in general cappadocicus and hakkariensis (especially the last) didn't grew very well - there were quite great percentage of died, mummified corms.
Absolutely shocking was corm size of Crocus kotschyanus. I'm using pots of size 15x15 cm and it was impossible to place in such pot 9 corms! So huge they were! Unfortunately I forgot recharge battery and it was impossible to picture them. Typical kotschyanus grew perfectly. I have around 10 different stocks of them from Turkey and from Syria. The largest were just those from near Hatay and from Syria. More northern populations formed smaller corms.
Next were Crocus pallasii group - starting with Crimean, type pallasii, then following with Greek populations and plants from Greek Islands. And as always there were schockingly great losses... New formed corms simply died. Why? I can't understand. There were few where mother corm had two shoots, so formed two replacement corms - both large, well formed and - one of them absolutely perfect, another dried out. In some pots more than half of new corms mummified. Dry rot form of Fusarium? But from where it could come? All crocuses every year are repotted in new, earlier unused pots. Expensive way, but I'm so afraid against Rhyzoglyphus, that keeping of collection is more important than money. Substrate completely replaced every year with soilless mix made from  coarse sand and peat moss - both sterile. And same in seedling pots and even in pot  where I planted 16 corms last spring collected on Samos and potted immediately after returning, 2 were mummified. If I would not hand-pollinate all my pallasii stocks every autumn and sawing seeds of those I think that after few years I would not have more species from this group. Only exception was with Tiurkish dispathaceus, haussknechtii from Iran and so named pallasii from Israel - there were few losses, but minimal, not more than in average.
Crocus goulimyi grew well, although corms were smaller than should be and there were no splitting, but no losses, too. All looked perfect, shiny, clean, only sometimes even smaller than planted.
Last autumn I collected few C. goulimyi at very South end of Mani peninsula. To keep them living I brought them to home packed inside native soil ball - squeezed around corms wet (there were heavy rains during our trip), native dark red clay. Collected corms benefit from this and I harvested nice crop. But I used occasion having their native soil for checking of the pH.  Up to last I used very expensive (around 100,- Euro) tool from Holland, but recently, when I maid current soil mix and checked its pH, it showed 5.0. I was shocked and added to my standard portion of mix additional 40 kg of chalk. Next day checked again - but still were 5.0. Something was wrong and I went to laboratory - there pH was 7.1. I immediately bought special indicator liquid - in home it showed same ~7.0 for my mix, but I decided to check what is pH of C. goulimyi native ground - it was around 7.5.

Saturday, 28 July 2018 18:49

Yesterday I finished repotting of Central Asian crocuses - alatavicus, michelsonii and korolkowii. Corms look very good, although smaller than usually are. Lost were only around half of cultivar 'Apricot'.  A year ago I lost many selections from this group and several were lost forever. Seem that reason was Fusarium, but from where it came? Every year my crocuses are repotted in fresh soil and in new pots, but season 2016/17 was catastrophic for several of korolkowii and some alatavicus.
I suppose that infection came from corms bought in Holland. Last year 'Apricot' was lost completely, I got replacement, and even those were very poor this year. Similar situation was with cultivar 'Albus' from Varzob valley, but it this year looked much better. Some years ago I lost my cultivar 'Lucky Number' from rodents and I asked for some corms Dutch grower to whom I presented half of my stock many years ago. I got 10 horribly looking corms, but during 3 seasons they recovered and now again I have this nice cultivar of C. korolkowii. When I visited the Dutch grower of this and some other crocuses, I was really shocked for bad quality of plantings - they all looked ill and I suppose that only huge amounts of fungicides allows to get some crop. But fungicides only are stopping infection, but not makes plants healthy. It stay in corms and only waits for favourable conditions. So now I decided - nothing more from Holland! For mass production by machines you are paying with quality. Now grower is separated from seller - and you pay for this loosing quality. How nice were bulbs, corms in my youth when each grower was selling own plants and he well knew that bad quality can ruin his business. But I think that will come days when all will turn back... But now left only small nurseries, small growers to whom you can trust...

Sunday, 15 July 2018 12:33

Outside is heavy rain and I can't reach my greenhouse after lunch. So few pictures from today. Today were repotted some autumn bloomers - Crocus haussknechtii, damascenus, dispathaceus. Crocuses never will stop surprise me. This season that was size of corms. Shortly ago I wrote that I never before had so tiny corms of C. veluchensis, but now I can tell that I never before saw so huge corms - this is autumn blooming Crocus haussknechtii from W of Iran - diameter of corms reached 40-45 mm (gridlines on photo 5 mm).
Not great surprise that local people use Crocus corms for food and they are sold on markets in huge amounts but during ;las trip to Iran I even observed this by my eyes (not the process, but what left after lunch of locals. Mountain side was full of holes where Crocus damascenus was dug out, and on roadside left shells and still few corms. By the way, I picked them up and few turned undamaged and today were potted. See on the last picture.
But not only crocuses can bring surprises. Here two other autumn bloomers - they suppose that autumn already came - Prospero autumnalis - sample from Crimea, Ukraine (at present occupied by Russia) and another Colchicum paschei from Central Turkey, Nemrutdag Mount in Malatya Province (blooms already quite long, only today accidentally noted its flowers, the first flowers already wilted).

Friday, 13 July 2018 12:07

Today I harvested Crocus gembosii and its hybrids. Excellent crop regarding size of most of corms - pity, almost no splitting, so selected clones remained of last years size - from only 1 corm up to 30+. Now I'm harvesting C. chrysanthus s.l. stocks. Last year I finally rebuilt corm size of mine selection 'Goldmine' with semi-double flowers - and after long interruption again saw some semi-double flowers. Hoped more for next year, but - all corms split in two and are too small for forming of semi double flowers. They were planted too shallowly. Now I'm carefully looking for corms would be placed at least 10 cm deep in my 20 cm deep pots.

I'm still living into impressions of our choir concerto. For you can get minor impression how it looks and what we are feeling - I'm attaching here link, where you can see only one song (twice on screen you will see me, too - between singers). The name of song is "Broken Pines" and its is about our fight for freedom:



Wednesday, 11 July 2018 10:36


Crocus development this season was extremely strange. At start of July I checked one pot with Crocus suworovianus - there some corms had even 4 cm long new shoots. Incredibly early.


Crop is strange, too. I wrote in Crocus Forum of SRGC that species from high altitudes formed smaller than usually new corms, but really shocking was crocus veluchensis, where replacement corms were in average only pea-size and few stocks from Northern Macedonia were even lost. Another species, which grew poorly was Crocus thirkeanus (herbertii), where again corms were much smaller than usually could be, but absolutely catastrophic was situation with Crocus banaticus. I repotted approximately only half of numbers planted last autumn, and they didn't look perfect, too. But absolute opposite situation was with Crocus pelistericus. I never before had so large and perfect corms as this season! And they were staying all the time in greenhouse where temperature in hottest days reached 45 C, and never even watered during rest. So recommendations to keep them all the year moist is wrong. Similarly, although not so good (my stocks are very small, so not easy to judge) was situation with C. scardicus and C. gotoburgensis. Both were kept completely dry and grew amazingly well, only seed pods remained between leaves although seeds were well formed and ripe. When I discussed this with Henrik Zetterlund, he told that in Gothenburg they are keeping those crocuses inside greenhouse all the year round and occasionally are watering only sand in which are plunged pots. But they use clay pots. For plastic pots this don't work. Quite poorly grew Crocus cvijicii, too. But excellent crop was formed by atticus, sublimis and some others. In general autumn bloomers which forms leaves already in autumn grew far better, than those which start vegetation only in spring. Sudden hot wave stopped development of many species.


I returned to my crocuses after almost full week long absence. Here I'm showing some pictures before I left home for our grand Song and Dance Festival (UNESCO World Heritage - you can see fast version of Dance concerto here



I was too busy with all preparings, despatching of very last orders, that hadn't time to download pictures.


As you may be remember earlier I wrote about small sizes of crocus corms this season. One of the last pots harvested before leaving home was this Crocus suworovianus. I never before saw so large corms of this species - diameter up to 30+ mm (gridlines on picture 5 mm). New shoots already started to appear, too.


But harvesting goes in its way. The first bed already finished, plantings registered and pots covered with stone chips and started next bed - still not registered and for better seeing of labels, still not covered with stone chips.


Full version with music of Dance Festival (18 000+ dancers in last final dance together) you can watch here: 




Wednesday, 11 July 2018 10:21

The bus traffic, coming time and police work was incredibly well organized - busses came one by other without any crowd. Left singers and dancers and immediately drove away to large parking spots where waited for manifestants to bring them late night to home. Our region was between the firsts and we started walking at 14-00 but new busses still came and came. The distance was 2 km long and the lasts passed it around 8 o’clock in evening, then was official opening of Festival and special concerto for participants. Huge sporting hall was transferred as eating hall and all those thousands got meal without staying in queue longer than 5-10 persons. It was free, but without choice.

Actually transport organisation immediately called in my memory this spring’s Iranian trip, when on mountain pass just on Iraq-Iran border we observed how are brought to pass hundreds of mules - in each lorry 2 or 3 mules with guide and immediately loading them off and going away to make spot for next car and so around an hour. There were bribed border guard chief and on border was open “window” for contraband. All border guards were called off… Mules simply run to Iraq for returning some days/s later heavy loaded with alcohol and other goods for Iranian underground merchants. The sum paid as bribe was incredible huge. It only shows how profitable is this business.

Monday, 02 July 2018 05:02

This morning I still looked for some special crocus corms for special customers and tomorrow morning last two orders will be posted, but today just after some hour in greenhouse I dressed in my ethnographic dressing and went to main road where soon was picked up by special bus for large manifestation. There were more than 1000 buses (provided by government) bringing from all corners of Latvia 18000 singers and 18000 dancers to Riga for our main event - once in five years. As there are no crocus pictures to be shown - I hope you would like those few from our very windy manifestation.
On the first I'm together with both conductors of our choir - next year we will celebrate 155 anniversary of choir - eldest still working in Latvia\
Two other pictures I copied from Facebook (foto Edijs Pālēns) - they shows you weather during manifestation - I had similar battle with wind keeping standard of our choir in hands - so no time was for pictures, but, as my wife told, I was several times shown on TV screen.

I will be between singers, but our granddaughter Paula - will dance.


Sunday, 01 July 2018 18:20

Dear Friends - as you saw, I stopped accepting of orders. This year it happens much earlier than last year. Your interest in my bulbs was so great, that I reached allowed amount for keeping of status of small nursery much earlier than last year. And my nursery really is small - all my bulbs are planted in around 8000 pots, placed in poly-tunnel of 400 sq. m. size. The number of different samples decreased too and now there are “only” around 5000 samples, and maximum what is planted is 4 pots from sample, not more. Unfortunately number of crocus samples raised and last checking showed a little more than 1600 samples, but general principle the same - not more than 4 pots from sample, but in 4 pots can be planted up to 60+ corms.

You still can order bulbs if you agree to send payment in cash. I simply can’t exceed my official total sum of sells, controlled by bank, which informs tax people. To change my status and all book-keeping system now, when I’m 72, my needs are limited, all necessary things are built up and nursery established, is not worse of trouble. Sorry.
And I got very nice comment on this from France: “The same system, with quota, exists in France too for agriculture and horticulture. And I understand after all these years of labours you now aspire to a more peaceful life. Indeed we don't need a Ferrari to enjoy life.” An Yann is right - I have simple Skoda car, everything is built up and all what I need - to pay current bills for living, glass of wine in evening and a pair of trips in year for searching of some new crocuses up to still I’m capable walk on mountain slopes. Of course in mountains I’m again looking for cheap hotels, renting ordinary car etc. Actually I can’t understand those rich-mans  who need top model cars, 5+ star hotels etc. All this only approximates end of life on our green Planet.

You can see some pictures from my greenhose at top of Crocus blooming following those links:


 and here:





Wednesday, 11 April 2018 05:01

Crocus season started. Last 3 days are very cloudy, so flowers stay closed. But flowers come up more and more. Fortunaterly my health improved and I can pass in greenhouse more and more longer hours.

Next Friday we will have the first visitors for open door days from UK, but on Sunday must be a lot of people coming - around 70 anounced themselves. After plea of some visitors I'm entering here schematic designs how to find nursery, because it for second year is replaced.


Sunday, 11 March 2018 07:52

I just returned from Greece. On my table was a packet from UK waiting for my returning. I was very surprised for it - who could send me bulbs in this time? I not remembered that I ordered something.

Great was my surprise, when opening it I found inside packets with my bulbs packed and posted to customer in UK already in last August. There were attached some paper slip with following text:

“Hello, Last year I received plants that I did not order. Because of birthday party the box was removed from the house and now month later I found it. The enclosed bulbs still seem to have some “life” so I send them back to you. Hopefully you can save these bulbs and sell them again later. Good luck!”

As on packets were order number it was very easy to found who send them, his order and even payment, because this person already paid for all bulbs which he “did not order”. As all packets were open and afterwards closed in different way, I threw them away as I’m not sure that I got back just those bulbs which I sent to this “customer”. Checking order I found that there were 11 packets sent, but only 9 were returned. Of course this customer was enlisted in my “black list” and he never more will receive bulbs from me. Regardless of payment - I’m not growing bulbs for rubbish bin…

Sunday, 04 March 2018 17:27

Here is winter. Last night was minus 11 C and although following days will be warmer, up to March permanent minuses is offered. Some crocuses under glass-wool sheets started blooming (in tight buds) but much less than in former seasons at the same time. Below cover temperature is between 0 to + 2 C.
I just returned from Karpathos Island in Greece where I went hoping to picture C. ruksansii in the wild and to see its variability. I think I’m unfortunate with Karpathos. My first trip there was 13th of February, 2015. All mountain was covered in snow up to 20+ cm thick, and it was not fresh snow. Next trip there was the same year 13th of April – I found two small spots with Crocus now named C. ruksansii and I think few were collected unnoticed between C. tournefortii. They all were with leaves only. I passed on mountain all day and came back absolutely out of power and in night had serious heart problems, but at least I found the crocus. Next time I was there 2nd of March – found only C. tournefortii. Now I was there 5th of February. Seem that there no winter was at all. Again only C. tournefortii was seen – a lot and everywhere, with prostrate leaves, with erect leaves, and no C. ruksansii at all. The footpass is marked as 1.5 hours long, I was back after 4 hours. Started darkening and it was dangerous to search for it longer.
So I’m confused – when it really blooms in the wild? I have some corms, each has different flower colour, so I want to see its variability in the wild. It is incredible – 4 trips to same place and no results. Too early? Too late this year? Blooming already finished, but leaves not developed? I don’t understand. I’m quite good in spotting of leaves. Next year I will go there twice – in January and again in mid-March (if will not be succesful in January). Now it is principal question for me, or is it worth to use time for this?
Unfortunately it was impossible to pass longer time on Kali Limni. Actually ascend is not too difficult. Pass is stony but not very steep and altitude difference around 400 meters only. We had tickets for Sunday’s evening to be full Monday on Karpathos, but our plain 3 times circled over Island and returned back to Athens due very strong wind. So we reached Karpathos only Monday morning at 12-00. We used all the rest of daylight to reach Kali Limni and to search crocuses on its slopes. Returning flight was on Tuesday morning.
On attached pictures Iris unguicularis blooming there everywhere along our ascend and nice pine tree close to top of Kali Limni.

Monday, 12 February 2018 12:35

 Here dark weather, snow mixed with rain, no one flower opened yet. On picture view of landscape with pergola,where summer parties occur (from upper flat of our house).


Sunday, 28 January 2018 19:10

In China already blooms Tulipa regelii received from me last year. Today I opened my new offer and the first orders started to run in "basket". Almost all T. regelii for sell this year are already sold out, left only 2 or 3 bulbs. Attached pictures were sent to me from China

Monday, 22 January 2018 15:53

Passed more than half year since my last entry here. All plantings now are covered and outside now all is in snow. On attached picture two "gards" of our plantings, pictured few days ago, when there were no snow at all. But now all is white and and does visit garden looking for frozen apples. Today even four ran away when I went to add bird's food.

Monday, 22 January 2018 15:48

Passed very long time since my last entry. Far too busy to inform about everydays novelties. Now I finished despatching of orders. Bulbs in general were good, only I would like that crocus and fritillaria corms to be larger, but we can't stay against difficult climate conditions, at least corms were healthy and we got no one complaint from our customers.

Unfortunately for me working in garden becomes more and morer difficult, I can't work on knees more and when I harvested bulbs planted on ground level I did this laying flat on ground, so new raised beds were urgently needed and in future all bulbs will be grown only in pots. Due limited place I strongly decided - not more than 4 pots from sample/taxa/cultivar.

Now parallely with repotting are going building of new raised beds. Hope that next week they will be ready (see attached picture). The first of new one beds now are almost half-filled with windflowers (Anemone nemorosa and ranunculoides) cultivars, eranthis. Tomorrow will start repotting of Erythroniums and after that will follow frits. Then again will return to crocuses and parallely will pot Corydalis. Some of crocuses already has long shoots, so autumn blooming is not far.

When new raised beds will be finished it will be possible to place in greenhouse around 7000 pots.

Sunday, 23 July 2017 06:03

Finally my new book is on my table. Today I started packing of it for sponsors and pre-printing orders. It looks really great!


Sunday, 26 February 2017 10:15

Shocking news for me.  Tomorrow I planned go to Riga to pick up first copies of my book and some minutes ago got call from Printing House that binding machine broke, around 100 copies are damaged and all process stopped up to 27-28 of February, because damage is very serious and must come specialists from producer of machine from Japan.
If I will not receive book on 28th - I decided to cancel contract and will go to another printer. Most likely I will loose prepayment and another company will be more expensive, but I really tired from all those delays and "excuses" - no such paper in Latvia, line waiting to the best printing machine etc. etc.
Most pity, that I deceived you and now left only apologize to all my sponsors and customers of book. Sorry, friends. But you didn't lost your money!!! Book will be printed in any case even if I would be forced to mortgage all my property.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 14:57

Today opened Crocus beds from winter cover and first crocuses in few hours opened their flowers. From top - Crocus fauseri, henriki, munzurense, pseudonubigena, gembosii x mawii, sozenii.


Tuesday, 14 February 2017 12:36

Yesterday I opened my new offer for 2017. The replies were so abundant than never before. During one day I got almost 30 orders. All the day I "polished" my home-page - corrected spelling mistakes, corrected some pictures, some item numbers. The first orders showed some faults and those were corrected, too, But the first customers don't must vorry - all ordered items were registered according your wishes.

Today started binding process of my book, too. It means that may be this weekend I will start with its packing and posting.

As you can see - no more possibilities to enter your comments/questions on Garden News pages. It was due horrible ammount of spams everyday appearing here. Today again were attempts to enter fake-advertisements here - but without success. If you have some questions - please ask me by e-mail.


Monday, 13 February 2017 17:59

Few minutes ago my new Crocus book's page layout was forwarded to printing company. They promissed to finish printing during 2 weeks and then I will start despatching of book to all my sponsors and those who already sent orders. I want to remind that books format is A-4, size 568 pages and are included more than 1700 colour pictures covering 235 species recognised before 1st December, 2016. Books price (including postage) is 65,- Euro for Europe and 70,- Euro for out of Europe.

Monday, 16 January 2017 16:17

Next week my CROCUS book is going to printer. Now I'm making last reading of proofs, looking for wrong dots, comma etc. Sorry, only after finishing with book will start with new catalogue.

Tuesday, 03 January 2017 06:00

Now I'm growing those only under cover, but many Iranians I saw paerfectly growing on open field in Gatersleben (Germany) Institute of Plant Genetics. So you can try. Some Central Asians grew outside very well, too. Most important is good drainage. I grew Iranian A. brachyphilum for 20 years in outside garden, although in nature it grows on sunbaked nude slopes of small stone chips, getting very hot and dry conditions in summer. Of course I always harvested them at end of vegetation and kept in bulb shed during summer. Lost only when planted them on new spot which turned waterloged in winter...

Tuesday, 03 January 2017 05:58

Dear Janis,

I was wondering if the following Iranian Allium species just survive under glass or if they even accept some rain in summer in the garden. 

Allium derderianum

Allium elburzense 


All the best from Berlin


Monday, 02 January 2017 19:21

The work on books layout is almost finished. I just counted - the 235 species included (one new described in the book) are ilustrated with almost 1700 colour pictures and 232 distribution maps.

Still left to make page layouts for general part, keys and appendixes and to select pictures for the first part - general information.

Almost every one to whom I turned asking for permittion to use their pictures or to supply me with some, replied with - yes (with only one exception) so almost all species are well illustrated. Only those which I never saw in nature and never grew by myself or by my friends, left without pictures. Such are not many.

I just made agreement with printing house that they will start to work with printing 2nd of January, 2017. I deceided to start this a little later to avoid pre-Christmas chaos when every printing house is extremely occupied with New Year's calendars, greeting cards etc. The January is the most quiet month, so all attention will go to my book.

I apologise to those who hoped to receive it as Christmas gift, sorry. But I prefaired top quality without rush. So I hope to post book at end of January.

Friday, 25 November 2016 17:41
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