Janis Ruksans’ bulb catalog

Scilla armena, Photo by Janis Ruksans, used with permission.
Scilla armena, Photo by Janis Ruksans, used with permission.

Last fall, I wrote about the eye-popping presentation Latvian bulb expert Janis Ruksans gave to our local Adirondack Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society. I haven’t yet read his Timber Press book, Buried Treasures. But it’s the next up on the nightstand.

Today, I received Ruksans bulb catalog via email, and am posting it here online in hopes that some of you will find some buried treasures of your own within.


  • This is not a glossy catalog full of great pictures. It’s all text.
  • These bulbs aren’t cheap. The prices are in Euros. So add 50 percent (and rising).
  • You need to do some homework. I know a lot of the bulbs Janis offers are not hardy here in Zone 5. Your mileage may vary.

I do know you’ll find bulbs in this catalog that you won’t find anywhere else.

Our rock garden society chapter is probably going to put in a group order to reduce shipping, handling, etc. Look for details on our new blog.

Anemone ranunculoides mutations gathered from around Chernobyl. Scary. Photo by Janis Ruksans, used with permission.
Anemone ranunculoides mutations gathered from around Chernobyl. Scary. Photo by Janis Ruksans, used with permission.

January Bloom Day …

… but no scans.

It’s been warm here, with many records broken last week at Binghamton, our closest official weather station. .

  • On January 7th the high temperature of 59 broke the daily record. The old record was 57 degrees in 1998.
  • Also on the 7th… the average temperature of 53 broke the daily record. The old record was 52 also in 1998.
  • On January 8th the high temperature of 63 tied the record for the month and day. The temperature also hit 63 on that day in 1998. In addition to these two dates 63 degrees also occurred on January 25th 1967.
  • Also on January 8th the low temperature of 54 was the warmest for the day. The old record was 39 in 1998. This low temperature was also the second warmest for January. The warmest was 57 set January 15th in 1995.
  • On January 8th the average temperature of 59 broke the daily and monthly records. The old record for the day was 51 in 1998. The old record for the month of January was 58 on January 15th 1995.
  • Finally on January 9th the high temperature of 56 tied the record for the day. The temperature previously hit 56 degrees on January 9th in 1998.

When it was like this last year, I wrote alarming articles about how global warming will affect your gardening. But now, no one seems too upset.

So Sunday was pretty nice, too. So I went out and took some pictures instead of hovering over the scanner like I usually do.

The ridge in January. Everything is kind of muted and somber with the still-low sun. Not the panic of June. But still many interesting things to see if you look.

The ridge in January

Some bulbs poking through already.

The ridge in January

There’s still some green around, you just have to look low and among the leaves, like for this Asarum patch.

The ridge in January

Digitalis ferruginea, my favorite foxglove in part because of it’s nearly evergreen habit.

The ridge in January

The hellebores have stayed green.

The ridge in January

As have the lambsears.

The ridge in January

And the pulmonaria.

The ridge in January

There are some interesting red-browns going on out there, too. Heucheras …

The ridge in January

and pitcher plants.

The ridge in January

The beaves continue to be busy.

The ridge in January

And I couldn’t resist a better image of the floating bowling ball from the midnight bowling ball incident.

The ridge in January

Shameless Sunday plugs

Three shameless plugs this morning:

botanical illustration by Marcia Eames-SheavlyIntroduction to Botanical Illustration online course. (Full disclosure: I work with the instructor as part of my day job in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University.) If you’ve ever wanted to become proficient at illustrating what you see in your garden, this 6-week online course will teach you the basics of rendering plants in pencil and ink.

The instructor, my friend and co-worker Marcia Eames Sheavly, is an accomplished artist who also teaches our popular Art of Horticulture course, recently featured by Julie over at The Human Flower Project.

The syllabus:

  • Observation of Art in Nature
  • The Use of Line in Drawing
  • The Use of Shape and Space in Drawing
  • Depicting Perspective and Foreshortening in Illustration
  • Using Light to Add Dimension to Botanical Illustrations
  • Composition and a Creative Approach to Drawing

There are still a few spots open. But act quickly: The course starts January 21.

heirloom 'tomatoesVegetable Varieties for Gardeners website. (Full disclosure: I work on this website as part of my day job in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University.) When you’re poring over veggie seed catalogs this winter, stop by this site where you’ll find descriptions and seed sources for more than 5,600 varieties.

You can also read more than 3,400 ratings and reviews from fellow gardeners to help you find out which varieties perform best in your garden.

The site has really grown since we launched it in 2004. We’ve got a lot of ideas to develop the site even more. But what we really need now is more passionate vegetable gardeners contributing reviews of their favorite varieties — as well as those that didn’t work out so well in their setting. So if you know some passionate veggie gardeners, please pass this along to them.

shp logoSeneca Hill Perennials. No full disclosure needed here. Well, the proprietor of this nursery, Ellen Hornig, is a member of our local Adirondack Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society (I’m a board member and editor/webmaster for the group) and she’s as nice as she can be.

Why am I plugging Seneca Hills? This year is Ellen’s last print catalog. She’s all online from here on out. To echo a quote from her catalog that Graham over at Transatlantic Planstman noted:

Global warming forces us to examine our resource use, and this is one arena in which it can be cut. We will be redesigning the website somewhat to compensate for the lack of a catalog, including adding… an archive wherein inactive entries can be kept for reference purposes.

As I look at the foot-tall stack of catalogs on the corner of my desk — most of which will only get a quick flip-through — I know Ellen is right. Sure, there’s something about going to the mailbox and seeing that there are two or three new catalogs in there. But that is increasingly becoming a luxury we can’t afford.

Buying locally as much as possible can also help us reduce our collective carbon footprints. But in the case of plants, I also like supporting folks like Ellen who are good at identifying plants (exotic and native) that perform well where I live.

Sure, she has more reliable snow cover than I do. (I think I read recently that Oswego has averaged about 140 inches of mostly Lake Effect snow over the past decade or so.) But I know that I can find some great plants in her catalog that will do well here and that I won’t find anywhere else.

So, know any other hidden-gem nurseries that folks in your neck of the woods should know about? Plug them in the comments.