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

Pyrus communis L.

Tree, usually with a conical crown, often thorny, the leaves oval-elliptic with scalloped margins, the flowers white in corymbs, followed by rounded to pyriform fruits, green ripening to green, brown or yellow. To 15m in the wild, but depending on variety in the cultivated pear. [RHSD, Hortus].


Added on May 17 2010

Escallonia rubra (Ruiz. & Pav.) Pers.

Fully hardy, vigorous, variable, evergreen shrub with peeling bark, toothed, glossy green leaves and loose panicles, to 10cm long, of tubular, dark crimson to pink flowers, 1cm long, in summer and autumn.  To 5m by 5m.  It makes useful screens and windbreaks and in milder regions can be clipped as hedging for more formal situations.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].  There are now many garden cultivars of Escallonia available, many of them hybrids.  [Hilliers'].

Added on March 14 2009

Watsonia meriana (L.) Mill.

Cormous perennial with sword-shaped leaves and branched spikes of up to 25 tubular, bright red, occasionally scarlet or white, flowers in summer.  To 2m.  Sometimes produces cormels at the leaf nodes.  [RHSE, CECB, Hortus].  

Added on November 18 2009

Wachendorfia thyrsiflora L.

Tuberous rooted perennial with narrowlt lance-shaped, plicate leaves and stems bearing terminal panicles of yellow flowers.  To 60cm.  [RHSD, Hortus, CECB].

Added on January 10 2010

Spathodea species unidentified

Unidentified Spathodea or related genus, probably the plant listed as Spathodea rheedii in the 1857 catalogue.  See Dolichandrone spathacea (L.f.) Schum.

Added on February 25 2010

Malus domestica Ribston Pippin’

‘Fruit of medium size, roundish, and partially depressed; of a pale yellow colour, tinged with red; pulp slightly acid, and of fine flavour: ripens in November, and continues till April. It is one of the most popular dessert apples in England’. Listed under Winter Fruit, i.e. considered a good storing apple. [FCM p.45/1845]. Usually at its best between November to December but will keep until March. Produces a vigorous tree and is a good bearer. [HP pl.XXV/1878.]


Added on April 15 2010

Lilium longiflorum Thunb. var. eximium (Court.) Bak.

See Lilium longiflorum Thunb. for a description of the species.  The variety eximium is known as the 'Bermuda lily' and is a taller, larger-flowered form.  According to Grey it is distinguished chiefly by its more narrow and cylindrical perianth tube.  It thrived out of doors in Bermuda and sparked a large commercial lily-growing industry, hence its common name.   [Grey, Hortus].  

Added on December 27 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


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 - 05:22 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2010 - 02:32 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

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

Letters on the Culture of the Vine Part 6: The Vintage

Letters on the Culture of the Vine and Manufacture of Wine by Maro, pen-name of William Macarthur. Letters IX, X and XI deal with the vintage, including the theory and practice of fermentation and preparation for winemaking. The process of winemaking is dealt with in more detail in subsequent letters. The illustration used here is a wine label from the 1852 Muscat vintage. Follow this link to further examples of wine labels from this period.

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 15, 2010 - 03:53 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 11:15 AM

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.