MILLER, Philip (1691–1771) and COLLINSON, Peter (1694–1768). Incomplete autograph letter signed by Philip Miller to Peter Collinson, at the Red Lyon in Grace Church Street, London, with at the foot, Collinson's autograph forwarding notes to another un-named correspondent, 1 side 4to, Chelsea Nov 7th 1746. Regarding coniferous trees and shrubs, Miller writes "….. Mr Rand that the Cones were sent to the Bishop from America [had] the different smell of the Virginia Cedars ........... which has much Stronger scent than either of these, the ----- of which is commonly sold for the tree Savin [Juniper], a large tree of this is growing at Cashioberry [Cassioberry, Hertfordshire]. The Sumack with winged leaves is an inhabitant of our gardens........ It was formerly growing at Fulham and was [in] Pluckenets collections. Mr Catesby also sends seeds of this sort over [in] 1724, when we raised several plants from it at Chelsea, which were [also] killed the same year 1728/9."
Collinson comments that "The reason P.M. takes notice of the Pines of Mr Lethieu[llier] is in the first place that he used to call them Cluster pines. In the next is - that I produced from this tree Cones of 3 different yea[r’s] growth on the same branch unshed – in opposition his notion of all being shed the first year.....Wee have raised some winged leaved Sumack from thy last seeds pray send more for it is all lost before in our garden..... Thou will find P.Millar has not understood thy Letter wch may deserve thy cordial notice – for Phil is a very worthy Man but is apt to be a little too Posit[ive]."
Right hand margin frayed (with some text loss) and repaired, plus some transparent repair tape to blank reverse. Extremely rare, combining in one item observations by England's two foremost horticulturalists/botanists of the mid 18th century.
Philip Miller was the most distinguished and influential British gardener of the eighteenth century, under whose charge (from 1722 to 1770) the Chelsea Physic Garden of the Society of Apothecaries of London came to excel above all others in Europe. His work necessitated the continuous introduction of new plants, achieved by a wide correspondence at home and abroad. 'Mr Rand', mentioned in the letter, was the botanist Isaac Rand (1674-1743) and former director of the Chelsea Garden. 'Pluckenets' collection refers to the extensive collection of the botanist Leonard Plukenet (bap. 1642, d. 1706), which he published in four huge volumes between 1691 and 1705. 'Mr Catesby' is the naturalist Mark Catesby (1683-1749) who undertook pioneering natural history work in America (supported by Peter Collinson), sending back large quantities of biological material to his English subscribers.(ODNB)
Miller's correspondent was the botanist Peter Collinson (1694–1768), whose greatest contributions to horticulture developed through his friendship with John Bartram, the father of American botany, with whom he established a scheme whereby Bartram supplied seeds and seedlings to British patrons in return for an annual subscription. He developed close friendships with other horticulturalists and naturalists, including Philip Miller, Mark Catesby and Smart Lethieullier (1701-1760).