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

Ercilla volubilis Juss.

Frost hardy, vigorous, freely-branching climber with ovate-heart-shaped leaves, with a pattern of pale veins, and many green or purple flower spikes, mainly in spring, followed by deep purple berries.  To 10m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Added on February 27 2009

Brunsvigia josephinae (Delile) Ker-Gawl.

Bulbous perennial, leaves about 4-6, oblong, usually absent at flowering, suberect.  In autumn scapes to 65cm high bear umbels of 30-40, characteristically boat-shaped, dark red flowers, to 8cm long, yellowish towards the base and with strongly reflexed segments, the leaves appearing after the flowers.  To 65cm.  [RHSE, Hortus, CECB]. 

Added on January 14 2009

Malus domestica ‘French Crab’

‘Fruit middle-sized, somewhat globular, about two inches and a quarter deep, and two inches and a half in diameter, perfectly free from angles on its sides. Eye small, almost closed, flat, surrounded by a few very small, angular, crumpled plaits. Stalk half an inch long, slender, deeply inserted, not protruding beyond the base. Skin rather thick, deep clear green, with numerous white dots interspersed; on the sunny side, shaded with a pale livid brown; but the whole becomes yellow with keeping. Flesh very hard, pale green, or yellowish white. Juice not plentiful, sub-acid, with a slight aromatic flavour. An excellent culinary apple, from November till the November following.’ [George Lindley – Orchard guide p.45/1831].


Added on April 15 2010

Fuchsia ‘L’Abbe de Bourgeoise’

I have found no description of this cultivar.

Added on August 17 2009

Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers.

Half hardy, spreading, freely branching, evergreen tree with peeling, light brown bark, elliptic leaves, to 20cm long, and open panicles, to 40cm long, of pink, mauve, purple or white flowers, to 5cm wide, from spring to autumn.  To 24m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Added on March 05 2010

Crinum species North Coast

Probably a form of Crinum pedunculatum R.Br. which see for a description.

Added on May 07 2009

Dianthus caryophyllus Picotee dark yellow

For generic information on the garden Carnation and Picotee see Dianthus caryophyllus L.  See also Dianthus caryophyllus L. var. Barraud’s ‘Euphemia’.

Added on April 12 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 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 - 09:34 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 - 12:56 PM | Last updated Jul 26, 2011 - 04:59 PM

Colonial Australian Wines

The following article appeared in The Gardeners’ Chronicle of Saturday, November 25th, 1854. It includes a review of seven wines sent to the proprietors of The Gardeners’ Chronicle from Camden Park by William Macarthur, together with his notes on the wines, the vineyards in which they were produced and the economic conditions pertaining to wine production and sale in Australia. Macarthur’s brief notes, when read with the more detailed essay Some Account of the Vineyards at Camden, extends our knowledge of wine production at Camden but most importantly provides an external (but not necessarily unbiased) view of the quality of the wines.

Published Jun 30, 2011 - 02:12 PM | Last updated Jul 04, 2011 - 09:00 AM

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 - 03:54 PM | Last updated Jan 10, 2011 - 04:07 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.