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

Oenothera biennis L. var. grandiflora (L‘Hér.) Lindl.

Fully hardy, erect, hairy annual or biennial with bowl-shaped fragrant flowers opening in the evening, initially pale-yellow and darkening to deep golden-yellow, from summer to autumn.  The variety grandiflora has larger flowers than the species.  To 1.5m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Added on October 12 2009

Rosa ‘Duchesse de Montpensier’

Hybrid Perpetual.  The flowers are a delicate, satiny, glossy pink, edged with blush, of exquisite shape and very fragrant.  Rivers considered it to be an excellent rose but Paul thought it second rate.  Curtis was effusive in his praise: ‘We cannot perhaps convey to our readers so good an impression of this decidely beautiful rose by any description, as by calling it a blush Madame Laffay, with improved figure, greater pefume and better habit.’  [Henry Curtis p.29 vol.1/1850, Rivers (1854, 1857), Paul (1848, 1863)].


Added on February 12 2010

Geum chiloense Balb. ex Ser.

Fully hardy, clump-forming perennial with pinnate basal leaves, deeply lobed, toothed stem leaves and branched stems bearing reddish-orange or scarlet flowers, to 4cm across, in summer.  To 60cm.  The well-known cultivar ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ is a form of Geum chiloense.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Added on February 08 2009

Passiflora foetida L.

Frost-tender, vigorous climber or trailer with 3-5-lobed leaves and green and white, fragrant flowers, to 5cm across, and white filaments, banded violet, followed by yellow to bright red fruit, to 2.5cm across.  The crushed foliage has a malodorous smell.  [RHSD, Don].

Added on January 31 2010

Crinum scabro-pedunculatum ‘Augusta’

Crinum zeylanicum Herb. x Crinum pedunculatum R.Br.  Originally Crinum scabro-pedunculatum hybrid no.2 in Macarthur’s notebook. 

Much the same as the preceding [‘Cleopatra’] except that the flowers are larger, petals longer and more reflexed.  The stripe in the centre of each is narrower, not so well defined and of lighter carmine, and the outside of each, at the point, is of a rich purplish crimson gradually shading off into the ground colour.  [MP A2948 Notebook no.4, p.3].

‘Augusta’ was also described in John Bidwill’s notebook.  This suggests that this variety at least, and possibly all of them, was hybridised by Bidwill, although he does not specifically make this claim.

Raised at Camden 1841, first flowered Christmas 1844.  Bulb somewhat pear-shaped with a thick column, not naturally above ground, stained with red.  Leaves scabrous 4 to 5 feet long, 5½ inches at their broadest point, the greater portion pendulous, resting on the ground, very like scabrum but much more robust.  Scape 2 ft 6 ins high bearing 17 or 18 flowers which are sessile.  The tube 5 inches, petals 4½ to 5 inches, outer about 1 inch, inner 1¼ ins broad, reflexed when fully expanded.  Shape nearly that of pedunculatum but broader, not elliptic like scabrum, and 8 or 10 open at once.  The flower when fully expanded 7½ ins across, pure white with a distinct stripe rather paler and brighter than that of scabrum.  About 1 inch of the outside of the inner segments is coloured like the stripe, lips green.  Anthers yellow, pollen apparently perfect.  Filaments dark red approaching one another as in scabrum.  A superb variety superior to either parent in almost every respect. [Bidwill p.7].

Added on May 07 2009

Malus baccata (L.) Borkh var. sibirica C.K.Schneid

A small to medium sized tree of rounded habit, the leaves oval to lance-shaped, the flowers white, fragrant, borne in clusters. The fruit of the Siberian Crab is round, clustered, with yellow skin heavily streaked with red. To 15m or more. [RHSD, Hortus, Hilliers']. See also See also Malus baccata (L.) Borkh.  This is almost certainly the same plant.

Added on April 15 2010

Iris spuria L. subsp. halophila (Pall.) B.Mathew & Wendelbo.

A very vigorous and hardy, free-flowering rhizomatour iris with white, dingy white-yellow or grey-purple flowers, sometimes golden yellow.  [RHSD, BIS, Lynch].  

Added on November 02 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 - 03:47 PM

Working Bee dates

Working Bee dates for 2012.

Published Jun 29, 2010 - 02:59 PM | Last updated Jan 10, 2012 - 04:19 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 - 01:58 PM | Last updated Jan 09, 2012 - 04:31 PM


Letters on the Culture of the Vine Part 3: Grape Varieties and Diseases

Letters on the Culture of the Vine and Manufacture of Wine by Maro, pen-name of William Macarthur. Letters III and IV deal with grape varieties found suitable for New South Wales, and diseases of the vine.

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 01, 2010 - 05:24 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 11:16 AM

Letters on the Culture of the Vine Part 10: The Wine Cellar

Letters on the Culture of the Vine and Manufacture of Wine by Maro, pen-name of William Macarthur. Letter XVIII, the final letter, describes the construction and operation of a wine cellar. Although Macarthur writes ‘I have not had so much experience practically in the construction of this description of buildings, as with the majority of the details, upon which, I have endeavoured to communicate information’ it seems likely that the building he describes in such detail is modeled on the Wine House at Camden Park, the remains of which survive. Indeed, in discussing the perfect site, he also writes that ‘such in fact is the description of site adopted at Camden’. The illustration used here is a photograph of the ruins of the Camden Park Wine House showing the brick and sandstone vats built in the cellar of this building 170 years ago. These are ‘of two sizes, which contain respectively, 900 and 1,700 gallons; and we use them, as well to ferment in, as to store the wine in afterwards.’ So well built were these vats that William Macarthur asserted ‘they will probably endure without repairs for generations’. He was certainly correct in this as, although they have not been used for more than 100 years and have been open to the elements for much of this time, three of these vats are still in good repair today. The other two are partly collapsed. In this final letter Macarthur also describes the construction of brick wine bins such as are to be seen in the cellars at Camden Park house. A photograph on one of these bins is given in Part 9.

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 Oct 03, 2010 - 02:00 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 11:10 AM

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

Australian native plants in the Hortus

Australian native plants were important to the gardening enterprises of Camden Park.  Even today Australian trees such as Araucaria species, Agathis robusta, Brachychiton populneum, Lagunaria pattersonia, Grevillea robusta and several species of palm very much define the landscape of the gardens.  Australian plants, particularly native orchids and ferns, were sent to England in large numbers in exchange for the exotic plants that were so much desired by Macarthur and his fellow colonists.

Published Mar 13, 2010 - 04:22 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2010 - 02:32 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.