Saturday, April 20, 2013

On the Community of Plant Collectors + Plant Lists - From Peter Collinson 1694-1768 in London to John Custis 1678-1749 in Virginia


In July of 1736, Peter Collinson in England wrote to John Custis in colonial Virginia,

"I shall be obliged to you for some more o the yoppon, & if the other sorts can be procur'd with Little Trouble please to add some of the Rest for tho' I have Engough already myself, yett I think there is no Greater pleasure then to be Communicative & oblige others. It is Laying an obligation & I seldome fail of Returns for Wee Brothers of the Spade find it very necessary to share amongst us the seeds that come annually from Abroad. It not only preserves a Friendly Society but secures our collections, for if one does not raise a seed perhaps another does & if one Looses a plant another can Supply him. By this Means our Gardens are wonderfully Improved In Variety to what they was Twenty Years agon."

Brothers of the Spade, Correspondence of Peter Collinson, of London, and John Custis, of Williamsburg, Virginia, 1734-1746
By E. G. Swemm, Director Emeritus, William and Mary College
Published by the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1949

John Custis (1678-1749) was a prominent citizen of Williamsburg with an apparently most impressive garden. John Bartram, the Philadelphia naturalist and botanist, commented to Peter Collinson that Custis’ garden was second only to that of John Clayton, the English born Virginia naturalist of Gloucester County. Peter Collinson (1694-1768) was a wealthy English Quaker woolen merchant. He maintained an extensive correspondence with American naturalists, especially John Bartram. His famous garden at Mill Hill contained many American plants, many he obtained from both Bartram and Custis. Custis’ correspondence with Collinson, the subject of Swemm’s Brothers of the Spade, depicts both the joys and trials experienced by early gardeners in their exchange of plants across the Atlantic. List prepared by Peter Hatch of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.

Plants sent to Virginian John Custis by Peter Collinson from London

Botanical Name, Date, Common Name

Collinson’s Notes:

Abies alba 1738 "silver fir"

Abies sp. 1741 "gilded firs ... which are natives of the
Alps"

Aesculus hippocastanum 1734 "horse chestnuts"

Alcea rosea 1735 "Hollihocks"

Allium neapolitanum lily leek 1737 "white moley"

Amaranthus tricolor Joseph’s coat 1742/3 "Amaranthus Tricolor"

Arbutus unedo 1737 “strawberry tree,” "Arbutus"

Asphodeline lutea 1737 "yellow asphodel,” "yellow asphodill"

Asphodelus albus 1739/40 "white Asphodills"

Brassica oleracea 1736 "cabbage"

Buxus sempervirens cv. 1736 “striped box"

Callistephus chinensis 1736 "China Aster"

Cedrus libani 1735 "Cedar of Lebanon"

Celosia cristata 1738 "tall coxcombs"

Chamaecyparis thyoides 1739 "white cedr"

Citrullus lanatus 1736 'Astrican Water Mellon"

Convallaria majalis 1738 "lilly of the valley"

Cucumis melo 1736 "Affrican Mellon," "Calmuc Mellon
with fruite 2 feet long," "Italian

Melon," "Muscovy Mellon 3 sorts,"
"Sir Charles Wagers Melon,"
“muskmellon"

Cucumis sativis 1736 "Muscovy Cucumber,” "cucumber,"
"long cucumber"

Cupressus sempervirens 1735 "cypress"

Cyclamen sp. 1739/40 "Cyclamens"

Cyclamen coum 1742/3 "spring cyclamen"

Dianthus chinensis 1738 "Double Flowering China or India
pink," "India pinks"

Dictamnus albus gas plant 1742/3 "White Fraxinelloes"

Dictamnus albus ‘ruber’ 1742/3 "Red Fraxinelloes"

Digitalis purpurea 1738 "rose colored foxglove"

Digitalis purpurea ‘alba’ 1737 “flatt?] stalk full of white long hollow
blossoms," "White Fox Glove"

Echinops sphaerocephalus or E.
ritro
1738 "globe [thistle?]"

Eranthis hyemalis 1739/40 "spring Acconite”

Fragaria chiloensis 1736 "Chili strawberry"

Fragaria vesca hautboy strawberry 1736 "Houtboye”

Fritillaria imperialis crown imperial lily 1739 "orange colord"

Fritillaria imperialis lutea 1737 "yellow ones," "lemon colord crown
imperiall”

Fritillaria imperialis cv. 1738 "striped"

Gomphrena globosa globe amaranth 1737 "Amarantheodes,” "Amaranthoides"

Helichrysum orientale 1736 "yellow everlasting flower"

Hesperis matronalis cv. dame's rocket 1735 "Double Rockketts,” "white double
rocketts"

Hibiscus syriacus rose-of-Sharon 1736 "althea”

Ilex aquifolium cvs. 1738 "[gilded?] hollys," "silver holly," "gold
holly"

Ilex aquifolium "Ferox” 1736 "Hedge Hog Holley"

Jasminum sambac 1738 "Arabian jessamins"

Juniperus communis 1735 "juniper berrys"

Laburnum anagyroides golden chain-tree 1735 "laburnum"

Larix decidua 1736 “larch tree”

Laurus nobilis English laurel 1736/7 "Bay Berries,” "bays"

Lavandula stoechas French lavender 1735 "crysanthamum arabian stecus,”
"stecos"

Lilium bulbiferum or
chalcedonicum
1742/3 "fiery lily"

Lilium martagon or chalcedonicum martagon lily? 1739 "red,” "scarlet," "sorts of martigons"

Lilium sp. 1736 "striped Lilly's”

Lonicera sp. 1740 "honey suckles"

Lonicera sp. 1735 "double honysuckles"

Lonicera periclymenum belgica Dutch Woodbine1740 "dutch [honeysuckles]"

Lycospersicon lycopersicon tomato 1742/3 "Apples of Love," "Tamiata”

Malus pumila var. paradisiaca paradise apple 1736 "dwarf apple trees [?] stocks"

Morus nigra 1738 "black mulberry"

Nerine sarniensis 1736 "Gurnsey Lillies"

Nicotiana sp. tobacco 1736 "tob: seed"

Phaseolus sp. 1737 "beans"

Phlomis tuberosa 1736 "Spanish sage trees"

Phoenix dactylifera 1735 "Dates"

Picea abies Norway spruce 1742/3 "spruce Firr"

Picea sp. 1738 "Spruces"

Pinus cembra Swiss stone pine 1738 “stone pines,” "Siberian Cedars"

Pistacia vera 1735 "Pistacioes Nutts, "Pistacios,"
"Pistacia”

Pisum sativum 1737 "peas"

Polianthes tuberosa 1735 "Tuberorse,” "Italian Tuberoses"

Polygonum orientale prince's feather 1736/7 "Oriental Persicary"

Primula x poliantha 1736 "polyanthus"

Prunus dulcis cvs. 1734 almonds: "green shell,” "brown shell,
"cornell,” "soft shell,” "hardshell,"
"thin shelld"

Prunus insititia damson plum 1736/7 "Bullice,” "Damosins"

Prunus padus or Cornus mas European bird cherry or
Cornelian cherry
1738 "cluster cherry"

Prunus persica cvs. 1737 "best peaches, "variety of peaches"

Prunus persica ‘Catherine’ 1740 "Catherine," "Katherine peach"

Prunus persica cv. 1734 "Double Blossome peach"

Prunus persica 'Nutmeg' 1736/7 "Nutmeg peach"

Prunus persica nucipersica 1737 "Nectarines"

Prunus sp. 1735 "chery seeds"

Prunus spinosa blackthorn plum 1736/7 "Sloes"

Pulmonaria officinalis lungwort 1735 "Jerusalem Cowslip"

Quercus suber cork oak 1736-37 "Evergreen Oke whose Bark is the

Cork wee use for Bottles"

Quercus ilex holly oak 1736/7 "Italian Evergreen Okes"

Ranunculus asiaticus Persian ranunculus 1741 "ranunculus"

Rancunculus ficaria 1737 "double yellow pile Wort"

Rhamnus cathartica 1742/3 "Buck thorn"

Ribes sativum 1738 'White Dutch'"White Currants,”
5
“dutch white currant bushes”

Rosa centifolia muscosa 1740 "Moss province"

Rosa x damascene var. 1740 "monthly rose"

Rosa x damascene versicolor 1742/3 "York & Lancaster Rose"

Rosa foetida Austrian briar rose 1736 "yellow rose"

Rosa gallica versicolor Rosa Mundi 1740 “moonday rose"

Rosa gallica 1736 "red rose"

Rosa x hemisphaerica 1735 "yellow province rose," "double yellow
rose," "other yellow rose"

Scilla peruviana 1737 "Blew & White Hyacinth of peru”

Spartium junceum 1736 "Spanish Broome"

Sternbergia lutea winter daffodil 1739-40 "Autumn Narciss with a yellow
Crocus Like flower"

Syringa vulgaris 1737 "lilacks" [other than "pale blew"]

Syringa persica 1738 "persian lilack, "persian lilock"

Tulipa cvs. 1735 "Double Tulips," "tulips," "early
tulips"

Vigna unguiculata 1736 "Italian beans," "black eyed indian
peas"

Vitis vinifera 1736 "grape seeds," "Vines," "White Grape"

UNIDENTIFIED:
“mountain flax” [1742] Swemm says snakeroot but JC
requests this as a medicinal plant he
believes to be very common in
England

“Oriental [?], plant of
paradice”
[1744]

Spanish sage trees [1736] Phlomis tuberosa ?

“syringa[“?] [ 1741] listed among bulbs ?

Laurells [1736] "which I [JC] had very plenty of
before" Magnolia grandiflora, Laurus
nobilis, Prunus (Lauroceraus)
caroliniana?
"The name of the flower white
on one side red on the other"
Possibly Asphodelus albus -- white
w/brown bracts

“Drassenis” 1741] Swemm indexes as "Dracaena”

"small bulbous roots like
hyacinths"
[1736] scilla?
.