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

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

Pyrus communis ‘Achan’

‘Fruit medium sized, obovate, flattened towards the eye. Skin varying from pale greenish-yellow, to dark greenish-green, and covered on one side with dull brownish-red. Eye open, set in a slightly depressed basin. Stalk about an inch long. Flesh tender, rich, melting, sugary, and highly perfumed. Ripe in November.’ [Hogg – Fruit Manual p.150/1860].


Added on May 19 2010

Acer saccharum Marsh.

Fully hardy deciduous tree with a dense rounded crown and large, broadly ovate, mid-green, 3-5 lobed leaves which turn brilliant orange to red and yellow in autumn.  To 40m. An economically important tree, it is tapped for its sap in spring, the source of maple sugar, and also produces the highly prized birds-eye maple timber for cabinet making.  [RHSD, Hilliers'].

Added on February 19 2009

Prunus domestica ‘Drap d?Or’

A Prunus domestica L. cultivar. ‘Branches smooth, but downy at the ends. Fruit rather small, of a roundish figure, somewhat like the Little Queen Claude, with but very little suture, and a small dimple at each end: about an inch deep, and rather more in diameter. Stalk half an inch long, slender. Skin bright yellow, spotted or marbled with red on the sunny side. Flesh yellow, melting, and separates clean from the stone. Juice sugary and excellent. Ripe the middle of August.’ [George Lindley – Orchard guide p.463/1831]. Thought by some to be a selection from, or more likely a hybrid of, Prunus institia L.

Added on May 27 2010

Sequoia sempervirens Endl.

Fully-hardy, evergreen, columnar or conical tree with horizontal or down curved branches, fissured, reddish bark, 2-ranked, linear leaves, silvery beneath, and spherical to cylindrical female cones, to 3cm long, ripening in their first season.  To 112m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Added on August 07 2009

Phlox 'Leantii'

Probably a phlox hybrid.  The hand-writing is somewhat indistinct but it is included with the then recently introduced hybrids Van Houttii and Wheeleri.  I have found no description.

Added on February 28 2010

Ixia curta Andr.

There are several possibilities for Macarthur’s ‘dwarf yellow ixia’ among ixias not considered elsewhere in the Hortus, perhaps the most likely being Ixia curta Andr.  This is a cormous perennial with lance-shaped leaves and crowded spikes of up to 8 red to purple or cream to yellow flowers with a darker centre.  [CECB].

Added on November 16 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


Florists’ flowers

Floristry, in the 17th, 18th and 19th century meaning of the word, the growing and improvement of flowering plants for the sake of their beauty alone, has a long history in China and Asia but is of relatively recent origin in Europe.  From quite humble beginnings, the small scale leisure activity of artisans and labourers, it attracted the attention of the owners of the great pleasure gardens and botanic gardens of Europe.  Specialised nurseries began to appear to service great and small gardens, providing a means of disseminating the beautiful new varieties which the nurseries were both breeding and obtaining from enthusiastic amateurs.

Published Mar 12, 2010 - 03:41 PM | Last updated Jun 27, 2010 - 05:30 PM

Letters on the Culture of the Vine Part 8: Fermentation of the Wine

Letters on the Culture of the Vine and Manufacture of Wine by Maro, pen-name of William Macarthur. Letters XIV and XV describe primary and secondary fermentation of the wine. The illustration used here is a photograph of the cellars at Camden Park House.

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 30, 2010 - 05:11 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 11:14 AM

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

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

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.