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216 × 138 mm
216 pages
90 illustrations, 70 in colour
22 Aug 2016

Snowdrop Gail Harland

Quietly elegant flowers dressed in simple white and green, snowdrops look too fragile to cope with wintery weather. They are however very resilient and are treasured by gardeners for their ability to flower early in the horticultural year. In Snowdrop Gail Harland explores how they have been used by non-gardeners too, as symbols of purity and of hope and consolation. In Victorian Britain snowdrop bands encouraged chastity among young women; today snowdrops are used as the symbols of several charities. Snowdrops are commonly found in flower paintings from the sixteenth century onwards and frequently appear in poetry and prose. Medicinally they are a source of galantamine, used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

The gentle beauty of the snowdrop may have attracted the attention of poets and artists for centuries but today snowdrops are more popular than ever before, with record-breaking sums being reached for individual bulbs. The rise of snowdrop enthusiasts, known as galanthophiles, has been much commented on and an expanding number of snowdrop events draw fans from around the world to discuss, admire and buy specimens of these enchanting plants.

Snowdrop is the ideal companion for galanthophiles or indeed any plant lovers who are interested in the emotional and cultural aspects of these much-loved plants.

‘Woven through this book are the delightful, and sometimes humorous, stories of galanthophiles – the men and women who have collectecd, bred, described and enthused about snowdrops . . . a fascinating and inviting view of the world of galanthophilia’ – Best Gardening Books of the Year, Gardens Illustrated

‘This thoughtfully written book examines the plant’s botanical and cultural significance: why it has long been revered as the iconic flower of midwinter and how it is deeply entwined with art, literature and music . . . This is an absorbing book for winter fireside reading.’ – House and Garden

‘Gail Harland’s book will delight galanthophiles but it will also entertain and inform general readers about the genus . . . The book is the result of diligent and extensive research that the author obviously enjoyed, the fascination she has for the subject and the pleasure she takes in sharing it evident on every page . . . Snowdrop is the latest volume in Reaktion Books’ excellent Botanical series, which looks at the social and cultural impact of plants as well as their botanical and horticultural importance, and it joins the rest of the collection as an essential addition to the libraries of both gardeners and plant enthusiasts.’ – Gardens Illustrated

‘This fascinating series considers plants botanically and horticulturally while investigating their cultural contexts and social impacts . . . This book is beautifully illustrated with an eclectic selection of images and objects, from botanical illustrations via Pre-Raphaelite paintings to cigarette cards, ceramic thimbles and Italian biscuits . . . A must for dedicated galanthophiles, this book will also appeal to those interested in Victorian art and literature, or the rich sociocultural background of Galanthus.’ – The Garden

‘Snowdrops can be an addictive interest and while this book will certainly appeal to the “nutters” it will also appeal to those of more modest interest as the author threads her way through the wide and various ways in which snowdrops have been loved, used, appreciated and featured over the centuries. It is a wonderfully interesting journey, full of insight, unimagined connections, and delightful treasures.’ – Irish Garden Plant Society Newsletter

‘Let’s hope that Gail Harland’s delightful little book will not promote more wrongdoings but instead generate through her page-turning text and rich cache of illustration a love and appreciation of these brave little plants that gladden us like no other during the year’s shortest days.’ – Hortus

‘This attractively produced volume is one of a series that aims to integrate horticultural and botanical writing with a broader account of the cultural and social impact of trees, plants, and flowers . . . The author seems to have admirably achieved the series’ aims, covering the classification, history, and cultivation of snowdrops, and adding chapters on “Purity and Piety”, “Art and Images”, and “Word and Music”. Her knowledge and use of the literature covering so wide an area is admirable . . . Snowdrop is a book that can be read and enjoyed’ – Folklore

‘With 90 illustrations, 28 poems or poetic fragments, a bibliography of books devoted solely to snowdrops, and a 529-entry index, Harland’s story is far from boring.’ – Choice

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Gail Harland combines work as a dietitian with horticultural writing. Her previous publications include The Tomato Book (2009), Designing and Creating a Cottage Garden (2011) and The Weeder’s Digest (2012).