Gardening is all about people. It is people who make and maintain gardens; who sow seeds and take cuttings; who choose plants and nurture rarities; and it is people who pass on their knowledge and their best plants to others. All too often the individuals are glossed over.
Snowdrops – known botanically as Galanthus – came of horticultural age between 1854–2014. The Galanthophiles explores not only the discovery of new variants and species during that time but also the stories of the ardent enthusiasts who sought out, cherished, and shared these deceptively fragile white flowers.
The Galanthophiles brings to life the forgotten experts whose knowledge and skills contributed to the preservation of the snowdrops we love today.
Jane Kilpatrick is a historian whose previous books, Gifts from the Gardens of China (2007) and Fathers of Botany (published by Kew), tell the stories of the individuals who worked so hard from 1700 to 1914 to introduce Chinese plants to our parks and gardens. Her garden in Gloucestershire is full of Chinese plants, but once it began to fill up with snowdrops, she became fascinated by the stories of galanthophiles and began researching their lives.
Jennifer Harmer is the Historian of the Hardy Plant Society, a founder member of Hampshire Plant Heritage and has lectured on plant history for more than 20 years. 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.
"Thank you very much for the copy of your beautiful new book delivered in person and signed by both you and the co-author Jane. The Galanthophiles is a delight to hold, a feast for the eye and a wondrous tuck box of stories and histories about snowdrops and snowdrop people. I am still reading it but have already included a piece on it in my article for the Hardy Plant Spring issue. I wish you well on its sales, its success is assured."
– Roy Lancaster CBE
"An extremely readable book [...] I have read it from cover to cover and even for a non-plantsperson, it was a simple but enthralling read. So easy and such a delightful series of word portraits, two days was enough for me to complete it. One of those rare books that I just kept reading and reading."
"This book should be on every galanthophile's shelf."
– Joe Sharman, pre-eminent galanthophile
"A fascinating, much-needed book that sheds fresh light on the lives of important individual galanthophiles and 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