Philip Miller

Philip Miller was one of the most distinguished and influential gardeners of the 18th century. Relatively little is known about Miller's early life, although his father ran a market garden in Deptford, England. During this time Philip became a commercial florist at St. George's Fields, near Southwark, England. Shortly afterwards, in 1722, he was employed as the Gardener to the Society of Apothecaries, a position that included managing the Chelsea Physic Garden. The garden became renowned for its collection of North American plants established via Miller's connection with John Bartram of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with whom he exchanged many varieties.

A connection was also established with the Duke of Bedford, who contracted Miller to supervise the pruning of fruit trees at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, England. Again, links with John Bartram had been used to populate the collection.

In 1724 Philip Miller published the first edition of The Gardener's Dictionary that went through eight versions before his death in 1771. In 1738 Philip married Mary Kennet of Southwark with whom he had three children, Mary, Philip and Charles. Philip died working in the East Indies, while Charles became the first curator of the Cambridge Botanical Garden in 1763. Philip Miller died on 18 December 1771, one year after resigning from his post at Chelsea.

Sources:

Desmond, Ray, Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists (Oxford: CG Press, 1994), p. 488.

Le Rougetel, H., ‘Miller, Philip (1691–1771)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) < http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/18734 > [accessed 9 October 2008]

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