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

Gladiolus cardinalis x (x gandavensis) [#4]

Gladiolus cardinalis x Gladiolus x gandavensis hybrid no.4 in Macarthur’s notebook no.5 in an entry dated 1847.  Slender scape.  moderately [word indistinct] flower.  Middling shape, purplish crimson, purple [word indistinct] blotches on lower lobes.  Middling variety.  [MP A2948-5].

Added on October 22 2009

Oxalis rosea Jacq.

Frost-tender to half-hardy erect-stemmed annual with leaves composed of 3 leaflets, to 1cm long, pale green, occasionally reddened beneath, and lax, bifurcating cymes of up to 3 pink flowers, to 1.5cm across, with darker veins and a white throat, rarely entirely white, in spring.  To 20cm.  [RHSD].  

Added on January 28 2010

Rhododendron indicum ‘Purpurea’

Treated here as a cultivar or hybrid of Rhododendron indicum Sweet. Galle describes ‘Purpureum’ as a ‘Mucronatum’ hybrid synonym ‘Lilacina’, with light reddish-purple flowers with a red blotch, but see notes below as this may be a different plant.

Added on June 05 2009

Rosa ‘Viscomte des Cazes’

Tea rose with loose and irregularly-shaped flower of an unusual shade of coppery-yellow, very decorative according to William Paul, very sweet scented, free growing and hardy, one of the most beautiful roses.  [Paul (1848, 1863, 1888), Rivers (1857, 1863, 1863), Henry Curtis p.25 vol.1/1850].


Added on February 11 2010

Proiphys cunninghamii (Aiton ex Lindl.) Mabb.

Frost-tender bulb with oval leaves to 25cm and 75cm flower stems bearing umbels of up to 15 white, funnel-shaped flowers in summer.  To 30cm.  [RHSD, Baker Am., Blombery].  

Added on May 26 2009

Salvia fulgens Cav.

Tender evergreen shrub with toothed, ovate leaves and panicles of bright scarlet flowers.  To 90cm.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Added on October 07 2009

Sinningia speciosa ‘Candida’

A cultivar of Sinningia speciosa (Lodd.) Hiern. I have found no description but the name candida suggests a pure white flower and its introduction by 1832, preceding the introduction of the Fyfiana cultivars, means it would have been of the wild, slipper form.  Probably similar to the pure white slipper flower illustrated by Fitch in the Floral Magazine of 1861, shown here.

Added on September 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 - 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


Edmund Blake - Gardener

Edmund Blake is important in the history of Camden Park gardens, where he was employed as a gardener from 1837 until probably at least 1867.  William Macarthur named three hybrid plants in his honour, Passiflora  ‘Blakei’, Gladiolus ‘Blakei’ and Erythrina ‘Blakei, testament to the high regard in which he was held.  Erythrina ‘Blakei’ has survived to this day. It is a magnificent shrub worthy of a place in any large garden.

Published Apr 03, 2010 - 03:35 PM | Last updated Aug 14, 2012 - 04:55 PM

Letters on the Culture of the Vine Part 9: Preparation of Wine

Letters on the Culture of the Vine and Manufacture of Wine by Maro, pen-name of William Macarthur. Letters XVI and XVII describe the manufacture of wine from secondary fermentation to bottling and storage. The illustration used here is Plate 3 from Letters, which illustrates some of the equipment used in the manufacture of wine, described here and in earlier parts.

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 - 10:34 AM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 11:13 AM

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

Some Account of the Vineyards at Camden

The vineyards of Camden Park are widely considered to be the first commercial vineyards in Australia. James and William Macarthur were certainly not the first to sell wine for profit or the first to export wine but were pioneers in the development of vineyards intended to produce a profit from the sale of quality wine. Prior to this wine was produced from small vineyards planted primarily for home consumption, with excess sold and sometimes exported.

The first vineyard was small, only one acre in extent, and largely experimental, but the second and third were on a much grander scale. As the closing words of this pamphlet demonstrate, James and William certainly had a vision of what was possible for Australian wine production, as they had previously for fine Merino wool.

‘Whether these Colonies can also hope to provide for the benefit of every class here at home, and at an equally moderate rate another exportable product, remains yet to be seen — so that even the tired artizan, in his hours of relaxation from toil, may not unseldom exclaim, “Go Fetch me a quart of (Australian) Sack.” ’

This short pamphlet outlining the Camden vineyards was produced to accompany samples of wine to the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851.

Published Jan 10, 2011 - 04:54 PM | Last updated Jan 10, 2011 - 05:07 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.