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

Crinum zeylanicum L. var. ornatum

For a description of the species see Crinum zeylanicum L.  Amaryllis ornata, figured in Curtis's Botanical Magazine, common name ‘Crimson and White Amaryllis’, is depicted with white flowers with a distinctly purple stripe in the copy that I have seen, although this may be an anomaly.  It seems very similar to Crinum scabrum except that the flower segments are not so widely spread, and are much less reflexed at the tips.  It is described as being from Africa and sometimes known as the ‘Cape Coast Lily’.  [BM t.1171/1809].

Added on May 01 2009

Adansonia digitata L.

Frost tender deciduous tree with a thickened, swollen, succulent trunk with short branches bearing rounded, usually 5-9-palmate leaves and pendant white and purple flowers, borne on long stalks, with or just before, the leaves in summer.  To 18m.  [RHSE].

Added on February 20 2009

Camellia japonica ‘Proserpine’

A cutlivar of Camellia japonica L. Camden Park bred, seedling 13/50.  ‘Dark rich crimson, two outer rows of petals, large and well shaped, the centre quite filled up, small petals, twisted in the manner of the Waratah Camellia, handsome, not very large.’  William Macarthur.  [MP A2948-6].

Added on July 01 2009

Gladiolus hirsutus Jacq.

A variable cormous perennial, the leaves often fairly short, flowers in 3-6-flowered spike, whitish or pink to purple, streaked on the lower lobes with a darker colour.  To 50cm.  [RHSD, Hortus, CECB].  

Added on October 26 2009

Hebe salicifolia (Forst.f.) Pennell

Fully hardy, highly variable, erect to spreading, evergreen shrub with lance-shaped leaves, to 12cm long, and pendant, axillary racemes, to 20cm long, of small, white or lilac-tinged flowers in summer.  To 2.5m.  A parent of many hybrids.  [RHSE, Hilliers'].

Added on February 18 2010

Sternbergia lutea (L.) Ker-Gawl. ex Spreng.

A bulbous perennial, the narrowly lance-shaped leaves are produced at the same time as the goblet-shaped, deep yellow flowers in autumn.  Very free-flowering.  To 15cm.  [RHSE, Hortus, Baker Am.].  

Added on May 28 2009

Athrotaxis cupressoides D.Don

Athrotaxus is a genus of two species of Tasmanian conifers although a number of hybrids were given specific status in the early literature.  Athrotaxis cupressoides D.Don is a small erect tree with small, dark-green, scale-like leaves pressed close to the stems.  To 10m.  [RHSD, Hortus, Hilliers', APNI]. 

Added on January 24 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


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

Camden Park Roses

Roses were very important to the Camden Park gardens, 297 are listed in the Hortus, substantially more than the next largest genus, Camellia with 140 plants.  This brief review summarises the major types of rose grown and discusses the change in profile of roses over the decades from 1843 to 1861. 

Published Feb 13, 2010 - 03:27 PM | Last updated Jun 27, 2010 - 11:02 AM

Letters on the Culture of the Vine. Part 1: Introduction

‘Letters’ is an important book in the history of wine production in Australia and this is, I believe, the first time that the full text has been made available outside the major libraries. The value of William Macarthur’s book compared with earlier Colonial publications is that it is written from the perspective of over twenty years of experience of growing grapes and making wine in New South Wales. He does include theory from the pens of European authorities but the bulk of the book is written from personal experience. He is in effect saying ‘this is what we have found to work here’.

‘Letters’ is reproduced in 10 parts, beginning with the Introduction, which provides information on the history of the book and gives a synopsis of early experiences of vine importation and wine production.

Published Aug 27, 2010 - 05:50 PM | Last updated Nov 24, 2011 - 02:57 PM

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

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.