Naomi Slade has extensive writing experience, many years with Gardening Which – and won three silver-gilt medals at the Chelsea Flower Show in the Science and Education Section while with them. She has also written for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The English Garden and The Garden.  I mention this background because it adds to my enjoyment of a book when the author can actually write well.  Perhaps, it’s an old-age thing or I am just getting grumpier as the years go on but I do enjoy a book more when it is well written. With a degree in biology and a keen interest in gardening and snowdrops in particular it is fair to say the lady knows what she is talking about and communicates this very well.

She begins the book by telling us why she is interested in snowdrops but such an interest needs no explanation as such beautiful plants could not but be admired!

The first section of the book, “Designing with the Milk Flower” sets the tone of the book – the author is more interested in snowdrops as a garden plant than as a collection of individuals and suggests snowdrops which will best give an effect in the garden. She discusses the conditions and locations which best suit snowdrops – woodland, under trees and shrubs – and their use as groundcover, in the rock garden and in containers and there is an extensive discussion on companion plants for snowdrops.

`The section “Understanding Snowdrops” covers the general morphology of snowdrops, their taxonomy, origin, trade and conservation followed by a run through the history of our interest in snowdrops, mentioning significant personalities and cultivars along the way.

“A Spotter’s Guide” illustrates, describes and gives the stories of approximately 60 snowdrops, an excellent selection which would do well in most gardens and fitting in with the author’s approach of selecting snowdrops for garden impact rather than for rarity. Though this may seem a small number to the enthusiast it should be mentioned that many other snowdrops are mentioned throughout other sections of the book.

“Growing and Propagating” covers all the practicalities of growing snowdrops comprehensively with attention to selecting and preparing a site, lifting and dividing, propagation and a section on pests and diseases.

“Where to See Snowdrops: Out and About”  lists gardens in Belgium, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States and Wales as well as listing snowdrops events and a list of places to buy snowdrops.

Scattered through the book is a series of interviews with snowdrops personalities. These are interesting but I generally don’t like this arrangement as I find it interrupts my reading of the main text. However, they are interesting and worthwhile.

The experts might wish for a more comprehensive book but I think all others with an interest in snowdrops will find this an excellent book.

Published by Timber Press In association with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and priced at £17.99 – very good value!

Paddy Tobin