Snowdrops are known botanically as Galanthus, and people devoted to collecting and growing snowdrops are known as galanthophiles. This book tells the story of the most important galanthophiles from 1854–2014 – the years during which snowdrops came of horticultural age.
Interwoven with the stories of individual galanthophiles are accounts of the introduction of new snowdrop species and the discovery of new snowdrop variants, so that the narrative also provides a history of Galanthus cultivation in Britain from 1854–2014.
Among the illustrations are photographs which give glimpses of the lives of the galanthophiles we have featured and which display the changing times through which they lived. From horse-drawn carriages to cars, from letters to mobile phones, from black and white photography to colour, the images reveal some of the extraordinary social and cultural changes which took place during the 160 years covered by this account – not least those caused by the shattering effects of the two World Wars which scythed through the European countries with which we are concerned.
Snowdrops kept galanthophiles company, and enthusiasts could always escape the vicissitudes of the period by disappearing into their gardens to seek solace among their collections. The hope of finding a fine new variant added zest to the coming of spring, and each fresh discovery encouraged galanthophiles to continue studying their puzzling, fascinating and infinitely rewarding snowdrops.
Jennifer Harmer is the Historian of the Hardy Plant Society and a founder member of Hampshire Plant Heritage. She has always been interested in the lives of ‘ordinary’ gardeners whose knowledge and plant selection skills have done so much to increase the range of plants available to us today. When she discovered how quickly even the best known gardeners are forgotten, she began to collect information and photographs for her lectures.
She gardens in Hampshire and is pleased with how well snowdrops cope with her clay soil.
“A fascinating, much-needed book that sheds fresh light on the lives of important individual galanthophiles and that brings order to the historic chaos surrounding snowdrop names. It will appeal to anyone and everyone who grows snowdrops. ”
Chris Brickell, Horticultural botanist and the first Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society
“This book should be on every galanthophile’s shelf. ”
Joe Sharman, Pre-eminent galanthophile
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