Of those attending, Ruby Baker was one of the most senior. A spritely 87 year old who can still clamber over stiles to see a good drift of snowdrops has been hooked since some visitors for tea suggested she see their snowdrop collection. A the time she thought there were only two sorts, single and double, but when she looked into it and discovered there were a plethora of different ones she started collecting with a passion. She and her late husband began traveling on snowdrop forays to Turkey, Corsica, Italy, France and Ireland -- 'Irish Green’ is one of her discoveries although she found the best snowdrops in the Czech Republic.
Standing next to Ruby is Carolyn Elwes of Colesbourne Park, Gloucestershire who married into snowdrops in 1962. She had no idea at the time that one of the best snowdrop collections lay on her doorstep but had cousins who had heard about the collection assembled by Henry Elwes (1846-1922) and kept nagging her to look after them. Eventually she had to do something to keep them quiet and became bitten by the bug. She increased her collection by attending galanthophile lunches, with pots of snowdrops from her garden to exchange. Then in 1995 disaster struck. The village bells had to be rehung, and so in aid of the bell fund, Carolyn opened Colesbourne Park for the first Snowdrop Gala. It attracted over 200 people and star of the show was a group of yellow Galanthus elwesii later named 'Carolyn Elwes’. They were the first yellow elwesii ever seen in public and hordes payed homage and snapped photographs. Days later there was a crater in the lawn and the treasured yellows had disappeared, never to be seen again. The story appeared in newspapers worldwide and the theft went down in snowdrop history as unsolved. Luckily a few bulbs were lifted before the opening, so 'Carolyn Elwes’ survives, although it is still a rarity. The theft turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the next year 1,600 appeared for their first garden opening to see the grounds they'd read about.
Roy Mackenzie is an immortal who helped snowdrops get out of their 70s and 80s doldrums. Back then he remembers being extremely frustrated reading about bulbs he couldn't find. He had a passion for propagation and was one of the first to take a scalpel to a snowdrop and twin-scale it. This is key to increasing snowdrop production as one bulb can produce 50 offsets which flower within 4 or 4 years, speeding up the natural process. Ronald started The Snowdrop Company in 1991 which enabled gardeners to acquire rare snowdrops for the first time and helped create their popularity today.