Interest grew in the nineteenth century and in 1879 the Gardener’s Chronicle mentions four species and nine forms of G. nivalis
. By the time of the RHS Snowdrop Conference in 1891 there were seven or eight species in cultivation and over firty cultivars. When E.A. Bowles wrote in 1918 this number had dwindled to 25, a loss thought to have been due to an outbreak of disease. In Sir Frederick Stern’s Snowdrops and Snowflakes
(1956) Bowles lists 137 named snowdrops but many were already extinct or lost. In the Alpine Garden Society’s Encyclopaedia of Alpines
, published in 1993, 108 cultivars are listed. Snowdrops
by Matt Bishop, Aaron Davis and John Grimshaw, published in 2001, covers more than 500 cultivars.
Many people dismiss galanthophilia as nonsense – a snowdrop is a snowdrop and that’s that, and not a very interesting that, at that! They were even known as Death’s Flower since, in several counties in England, it was thought unlucky to bring snowdrops into the house.