Philip Miller and The Gardeners Dictionary

Gardeners dictionary - illustrationArguably one of the greatest gardeners who excelled at both plantsmanship and authorship was Philip Miller, Curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden for almost fifty years, and the centre of an international network of plant enthusiasts and botanists. In a brief memoir of Miller’s life included in The Vegetable Cultivator in 1839, the unnamed author (who had met Miller personally) writes that Miller was distinguished for his great theoretical knowledge of plants and "especially by his skill in their cultivation." It was through The Gardeners Dictionary that he reached such an enormous audience. It was said that it was the Dictionary laid the foundation of the horticultural taste and knowledge in EuroGardeners dictionary - plantspe.

The Gardeners Dictionary made Miller's name a household word. Everyone who gardened owned a copy, and used it as their horticultural Bible, from Dukes and Earls to ordinary working gardeners and nurserymen. One reason for its wide dissemination and immense influence is that the horticultural advice contained in the Dictionary was available in a variety of formats and prices, putting it within range of virtually anyone with an interest. The first edition of the Dictionary was published in April 1731, and the book was immediately popular - so much so that a pirated edition was already available in Dublin the following year, the first of many unauthorized Dublin printings. The eighteenth century was a period which saw the continuous introduction of new plants from all over the globe. Miller described, classified and named many of these, and developed techniques for their successful cultivation in Britain.