A Bit About Me
My own introduction to snowdrops was in 1986 as a sixteen year old student at the RHS Gardens, Wisley where there was a substantial collection. I was immediately fascinated by their variation and the at times subtle differences between them in a flowering season that in those days peaked in early to mid-March!
As time went on I began to amass my own collection and things went in the direction of interest—enthusiasm—mania—obsession—frustration, for at the time there was precious little to be read about snowdrops apart from the very occasional article. By the mid-1990s I had been collecting information on snowdrops, especially cultivars and I began a fledgling project that morphed, through various stages, into Snowdrops: a Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus. This I wrote with Aaron Davis whose doctoral thesis, The Genus Galanthus, had recently be published by Timber Press, and John Grimshaw. Today it seems incredible our book covered just 500 cultivars with the several thousand that have been selected and named since. Today’s Galanthophile can choose from an unprecedented diversity of modern cultivars that now often show a combination of characters for which snowdrops have been previously named in isolation. New breaks and combination are occurring or being raised more frequently than ever before.
By 2009, when my career seemed to be mapped out – I was Head Gardener at The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum in wet old Devon – things took an unexpected turn when I discovered that all was not well with my eye sight. The cause was eventually diagnosed as Choroideramia, a progressive condition leading to complete blindness. A tricky period of adjustment followed and in 2012 I decided the time had come to leave paid employment and utilise a niche that I had unknowingly hollowed out years before, by starting to sell snowdrops. A year on and my first, fairly pitiful listing (just fifteen cultivars) in an eBay shop linked to my website. Each year the chipping season has lengthened, and more recently there has been an annual crop of new offerings, the product of years invested in propagation of cultivars and unnamed selections of promise, shared through an endless exchange with other enthusiasts that with my own namings, form the basis of what I sell today.
And so I gratefully record my thanks to all my snowdrop growing friends for being there, doing the driving and periodically alerting me to the existence of things other than snowdrops! Equally importantly to Professor Robert MacLaren and his team at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford who has been looking after my eyes and changing my life. In 2019 The Guardian (a British national newspaper) carried a story about his work and his treatment of me - you can read it here.