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 ‘Isabella’

Camden Park hybrid.  (Gladiolus carneus x G. colvilli) x Gladiolus x colvilli hybridBidwill described it to Edward Macarthur Bowman: ‘The only other one we named is a very singular Blandus-colvilli, tall and strong its flowers will [word indistinct, probably look] almost exactly like Blandus (most of this cross are dark) except that it has a bright red spot in the lower petals.  This we have called Isabella.  There are a great many others but they are not sufficiently distinct to name.’  [MP A4297 p.23].

Added on October 20 2009

Ficus carica ‘Brown from Provence’

A cultivar of Ficus carica L. There are a number of figs describe as brown, usually with a specific epithet such as ‘Naples’ or ‘Malta’, but not ‘Provence’, ‘Marseille’ or similar as far as I can ascertain.

Added on April 24 2010

Pinus maximinoi H.E.Moore

Half-hardy, evergreen, broadly conical tree, becoming domed with age, with smooth bark, pendulous, apple-green leaves borne in fives, to 25cm long, and ovoid cones, to 14cm long.  To 35m.  [RHSD].

Added on July 23 2009

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (Ait.) Harsk.

Tender, downy, evergreen shrub or small tree with opposite, oval leaves and axillary, solitary or 2-3 clustered rose-coloured flowers, to 3cm wide, followed by purple fruit.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Added on January 18 2010

Pyrus communis ‘Bishop’s Thumb’

‘Fruit long, rather slender, slightly tapering from the crown to the stalk, having an irregular and slightly knobby outline, in the manner of the Calebasse, about three inches and three quarters long, and two inches in diameter. Eye small, open, with slender segments of the calyx, slightly sunk in an uneven hollow. Stalk one inch and a half long, slender, recurved, and obliquely inserted in a two-lipped cavity. Skin dark green, almost wholly covered with an iron-coloured russet, on the sunny side of a dark rufous brown, thickly sprinkled with grey russetty dots. Flesh greenish yellow, melting, with an abundance of rich, saccharine, high-flavoured juice. Ripe the middle to the end of October.’ [George Lindley – Orchard Guide p.412/1831].


Added on May 18 2010

Rhododendron indicum ‘Variegata’

A cultivar of Rhododendron indicum Sweet. ‘This has white and red striped and spotted flowers and blooms irregularly the year round.  In the nursery district round Osaka it is known as “Shiki-takane-satsuki.”  In Blume’s time it was cultivated in Java, and according to Lindley it was introduced into England by Mr. M’Killigan in 1833, to Knight’s nursery in Chelsea, London.’  [Wilson & Rehder p.26].

Added on June 18 2009

Gladiolus cardinalis x (x gandavensis) [#10]

Gladiolus cardinalis x Gladiolus x gandavensis hybrid no.10 in Macarthur’s notebook no.5 in an entry dated 1847.  Slender scape, flowers middling size and shape, colour crimson scarlet, inside flower lobes partly yellow.  [MP A2948-5]. 

Added on October 22 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


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

Establishing an Orchard in Colonial Australia

Every Colonial gentleman with a household to maintain needed to keep an orchard of sufficient size to meet the needs of his kitchen and dining table at all times of the year. In 19th century Australia planting trees was an almost entirely manual operation, and establishing an orchard an expensive undertaking. William Macarthur developed a thriving and profitable nursery business in the 1840s, with an extensive and varied catalogue of plants for sale but heavily dependent on trees and shrubs, particularly fruit-bearing trees such as vines, oranges, apples, pears, plums, peaches and apricots. It was in the interests of Macarthur to ensure that the plants he sold were of high quality and that when received by the customer his plants not only survived but thrived and were productive. To this end he published a brief but detailed guide to what needed to be done to ensure that the planting of trees was as successful as possible and provided the best long-term results for his customers.

Published Jun 26, 2010 - 04:30 PM | Last updated Jun 26, 2010 - 04:36 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

Rambles in New Zealand - Part 4

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 - 02:37 PM | Last updated Mar 16, 2015 - 02:13 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.