Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Camden Park House from the East Lawn. Photography by Leigh Youdale

Selected plants in the Hortus

Camellia japonica ‘Sylvia’

A cultivar of Camellia japonica L. Camden Park bred, seedling 50/52.  ‘Bright lake crimson, small round flower, quite double, but not quite regular to very centre.  Good.’  William Macarthur.  [MP A2948-6].  

Added on July 03 2009

Camellia japonica ‘Anemoniflora Alba’

A cultivar of Camellia japonica L. Of similar shape to ‘Anemoniflora’, which see, the flowers are white with occasional striping and spotting with pale red.  The outer petals are large and spreading, the inner small, irregularly shaped and numerous in a dense mass.  [ICR].  ‘A vigorous shrub; bud very large, depressed at the summit, and almost round; scales green and shining; flower very full, very large, four and a half inches in diameter, of a dazzling snow white; exterior petals large, foliaceous revolute, sometimes spotted with red at the claws, and irregularly arranged; those of the interior rows, long, erect, cut in a ligulate manner, united and compressed into a large flattened ball, in the middle of which are confounded a few sterile and almost invisible stamens.-Superb.’  [Berlèse Monography p.46/1838].

Added on January 24 2009

Pyrus communis ‘Élisa d’Heyst’

‘Fruit above medium size, large irregular-oval, widest in the middle and tapering towards the eye and the stalk. Skin smooth and shining, yellowish-green, clouded with russet about the stalk, and covered with russet dots. Eye closed, set in a deep, irregular basin. Stalk half an inch long, stout, and inserted without depression. Flesh melting, juicy, sugary, and richly flavoured. Ripe in February and March.’ [Hogg – Fruit Manual p.185/1860].



Added on May 20 2010

Pinus mugo Turra. var. pumilio Zen

Fully-hardy dwarf form of Pinus mugo, often prostrate, with scaly grey bark, well-spaced leaves, to 8cm long, and conical, dark brown female cones, to 6cm long.  To 2m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Added on July 24 2009

Pyrus communis ‘Colmar d’Arenberg’

‘Fruit large, obovate, uneven, and bossed in its outline. Skin lemon coloured, marked with spots and patches of russet. Eye rather small and partially closed, set in a very deep round cavity. Stalk short, and rather slender, deeply inserted. Flesh yellowish-white, coarse-grained, half-melting, juicey, and briskly flavoured. A fine-looking but very coarse pear, ripe in October.’ [Hogg – Fruit Manual p.197/1860].

Added on May 20 2010

Vitis vinifera ‘German Small Black’

‘No. 9 – Small Black Grape. Probably of the Pineau family, also from Germany, bears little, but promising for wine. This and the preceding [Small Pink Grape] are small hardy plants and would probably succeed in cold elevated sites. I have never seem their produce made into wine. They should be planted at least as close as No.1 [Pineau Gris].’ [Maro p.23/1844].



Added on June 25 2010

Dendranthema x grandiflorum ‘Quilled Salmon’

A cultivar of Dendranthema x grandiflorum Kitam. Tassel flowered chrysanthemum.  ‘This is late flowering, slender, and graceful plant, with large tassel-like, and half-expanded drooping quilled salmon-coloured flowers, and is very uncommon.’  [FC p.73/1833].

Added on April 14 2009


Improvements to Hortus Camdenensis

The Hortus software has been upgraded. This led to some minor errors in the layout of plant names, particularly in the headings of Plant Profile pages but these have now been largely overcome. Improvements are also progressively being made to the content of the Hortus in three main areas, botanical and horticultural history, cross referencing and illustrations. Some enhancements will be done as the opportunity arises but most will be completed family by family. This will take at least two years to complete.



Published Sep 14, 2010 - 04:06 PM | Last updated Aug 12, 2012 - 04:36 PM

Sir William Macarthur on Vines and Vineyards

Sir William Macarthur wrote extensively on vines and Vineyards. It is our intention to publish all his writings in the Hortus.

Published Aug 01, 2010 - 04:58 PM | Last updated Oct 04, 2010 - 04:47 PM

Working Bee dates

Working Bee dates for 2012.


Published Jun 29, 2010 - 02:59 PM | Last updated Jan 10, 2012 - 05:19 PM

Open House and Gardens

Camden Park House and Gardens will be open to the public on Saturday 22nd September, 2012, from 12.00 noon until 4.00 pm, and Sunday 23rd from 10.00 am until 4.00 pm.


Published Dec 30, 2009 - 02:58 PM | Last updated Jan 09, 2012 - 05:31 PM


History of the Florists’ Gloxinia

In the 19th century the florists’ Gloxinia was a very popular plant with hundreds of varieties under propagation.  Out of fashion today, these beautiful and easily grown plants deserve to be revived.  William Macarthur would not have recognised the large, multi-coloured flowers that dominate the show bench today but the plants he grew, predominantly of the slipper, or wild type, were equally beautiful.

Published Mar 14, 2010 - 01:56 PM | Last updated Jul 26, 2011 - 04:59 PM

Letters on the Culture of the Vine Part 6: The Vintage

Letters on the Culture of the Vine and Manufacture of Wine by Maro, pen-name of William Macarthur. Letters IX, X and XI deal with the vintage, including the theory and practice of fermentation and preparation for winemaking. The process of winemaking is dealt with in more detail in subsequent letters. The illustration used here is a wine label from the 1852 Muscat vintage. Follow this link to further examples of wine labels from this period.

The entire book is reproduced in the Hortus in ten parts. For background information and Macarthur’s Introduction to the book see Part 1.

Published Sep 15, 2010 - 03:53 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 11:15 AM

Rambles in New Zealand - Part 1

Rambles in New Zealand is the only published work of John Carne Bidwill of any length and an important document in the early colonial history of that country.
It is included in the Hortus for a number of reasons but mainly because, together with his letters to The Gardeners’ Chronicle, it completes the known published works of Bidwill. His importance in the history of the Camden Park gardens and the lack of any substantive treatment of his life and achievements make it appropriate to include all his published work here.

Rambles is published here in four parts:
Part 1 – dedication, Preface, pages 1-29
Part 2 – pages 30-59
Part 3 – pages 60-89
Part 4 – pages 90 -93, List of Subscribers


Published Feb 29, 2012 - 08:45 AM | Last updated Feb 29, 2012 - 03:08 PM

A Brief History of the Camden Park Gardens

William Macarthur, born at Parramatta, New South Wales in 1800, was the youngest son of the colonial pioneers John and Elizabeth Macarthur. He became an accomplished agronomist, horticulturist, viticulturist and gardener, but above all he was a plantsman. Although he certainly sought to create a pleasant gentleman’s garden at Camden his real interest was in growing useful, unusual, exotic and beautiful plants for their own sake as well as for their utility. He established his first garden at Camden in 1820. More than 3000 species, hybrids and cultivars were grown in the gardens up to 1861, all of them described in the Hortus. Many more were grown in the succeeding decades. Of course not all of these plants succeeded at Camden. William was an innovator and put much energy into determining which plants could be acclimatised and which could not and he became an authority on the subject, his expertise sought by such bodies as the Queensland Acclimatisation Society, founded in 1862.

The historic value of the Camden Park gardens is almost inestimable.  Many changes have occurred in the gardens in the almost 200 years since they were first laid out, but the basic framework of the gardens remains with many historically significant trees and shrubs surviving. Over the years the diversity of plants in the gardens has naturally diminished. This has occurred mainly since World War II, partly due to a lack of labour to maintain and replace the more sensitive species and varieties. The economic conditions of today make it very difficult to manage extensive private gardens but John and Edwina Macarthur-Stanham, the present owners, have done much to halt and reverse the post-war decline, and there is a very real desire on the part of the family to maintain and develop the gardens.

Published Jun 27, 2010 - 02:25 PM | Last updated Jun 27, 2010 - 02:33 PM

About the Hortus

The Hortus attempts to correctly identify, describe, illustrate and provide a brief history of all the plants grown at Camden Park between c.1820 and 1861.

Plants in the Hortus

The Hortus plants served a wide range of purposes: ornament, living fences, fibre, dyestuffs, medicine, food from the garden and orchard, and many others.

Plant Families

Plants in the Hortus are grouped by Family, perhaps the most useful of the higher order classifications.


Essays enhance the Hortus by providing a level of detail about the gardens, people, and plants that would be inappropriate for an individual plant profile.

Hortus News

News provides an opportunity for people interested in the gardens to keep in touch with the work being done to maintain and reinvigorate the gardens and receive advance notice of events such as Open Garden days.