For much of the 20th century, the serious study and collection of snowdrops was bedevilled by the virtual absence of any authoritative or comprehensive literature on the subject.
Garden hybrids and selections were passed around in an ad hoc and piecemeal manner. The origin of the original name and its meaning was often confused or lost. Even with the greatest care in the world, mistakes are possible and if no clear original description exists for reference and cross-checking then errors persist and are compounded. The inevitable result is that many different plants are passed around under a single name and the true bearer of that name becomes difficult to establish.
This can be very disconcerting to someone taking an interest in snowdrops for the first time or for someone with an unusual snowdrop that they are attempting to identify.
Fortunately for snowdrop enthusiasts, the past decade has seen the publication of two extremely important and ground-breaking books.
The Genus Galanthus by Aaron Davies is the result of extensive field and herbarium work. It clarifies what snowdrops are, how many species there are, how they differ and where they occur in the wild. It also unravels a century of confusion over naming, no small achievement. While our understanding of snowdrops will no doubt continue to increase, this book is a landmark in proper understanding and will remain the standard work for some time. For anyone interested in the botany of snowdrops, this is a very important work.
Snowdrops by Bishop, Davies and Grimshaw is as it says "a monograph of cultivated galanthus". It has done for garden varieties what The Genus Galanthus has done for the species. The book represents the culmination of a huge amount of work clarifying and comparing garden varieties, measuring and describing them and unravelling their complex histories as they have been passed around. For anyone interested in garden snowdrops, or with a collection of more than a few varieties. this book is invaluable.