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New Release
Snowdrop (Botanical)

Snowdrop (Botanical)

Current price: $22.50
Publication Date: April 15th, 2024
Reaktion Books
Usually Ships in 1 to 5 Days


Now in paperback, a beautifully illustrated guide to the white and green sign of spring.

Elegant flowers dressed in simple white and green, snowdrops look far too fragile to deal with wintry weather. But that’s just what they do, and they have become treasured by horticulturalists for their ability to flower in the earliest parts of the year. In this book, Gail Harland explores the role snowdrops have played in gardens and popular culture alike, as a treasured genus for enthusiast growers and an important symbol of hope and consolation.
Harland explores a variety of cultural meanings for the deceptively petit flower. In Victorian England snowdrop bands encouraged chastity among young women. They have been favorite subjects in paintings in many different eras, and today they are the iconic symbols of several hope-giving charities. Poets and writers have written extensively about them, as have pharmacists, who have used their chemical, galantamine, in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Today some of their rarer bulbs can fetch record-breaking sums, and annual festivals that celebrate them draw people from all over the world. Walking among their brilliant white beds, Harland offers an ideal companion for any plant-lover who has ever eagerly awaited this treasured sign of spring. 

About the Author

Gail Harland is a professional dietician and horticultural writer. She is the author of The Tomato Book, Designing and Creating a Cottage Garden, and The Weeder’s Digest. 

Praise for Snowdrop (Botanical)

“How did one of the first flowering plants of the spring (often pushing through snow drifts to do so) end up with such a following? Blame the snowdrop’s fragile white “trembling” flowers, Venus and her promise of the coming springtime ardor, and the poet’s need for a symbol of innocent renewal. Align all three and one has a powerful symbol in art, a challenge to horticulturalists attempting to force blooms, and a staggering opportunity for commerce (one snowdrop bulb alone sold for $1,100!). 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. Recommended.”
— Choice

“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

“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

"Woven through this book are the delightful, and sometimes humorous, stories of galanthophiles—the men and women who have collected, bred, described and enthused about snowdrops. . . . A fascinating and inviting view of the world of galanthophilia."
— Gardens Illustrated, Best Gardening Books of the Year