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 ‘Beurré Clairgeau’

‘Fruit large, curved-pyriform. Skin smooth and shining, of a fine lemon-yellow colour, and with a tinge of orange-red on the side next the sun; it is thickly covered all over with large russety dots and patches of thin delicate russet, particularly round the stalk. Eye small and open, level with the surface. Stalk half an inch long, stout, and rather fleshy, with a swollen lip on one side of it. Flesh white, crisp or half-melting, coarse-grained, juicy, sweet, and slightly musky. A handsome and showy pear, ripe in November. Its appearance is its greatest recommendation.’ [Hogg – Fruit Manual p.161/1860].


Added on May 19 2010

Phyllanthus emblica L.

A much-branched, frost tender deciduous shrub or small tree with light, elegant foliage, flushed pink when young.  To 15m.  It produces very acid, pectin-rich fruit which are a good source of carbohydrates, vitamin C and minerals.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Added on February 20 2010

Mimosa sensitiva L.

A frost-tender, prickly, semi-climbing, evergreen shrub with sensitive stems and leaves composed of 2 unequal pinnae, and purple flowers in summer.  Sensitive to touch.  To 2m.  [RHSD].

Added on December 23 2009

Cistus monspeliensis L.

Frost hardy, bushy shrub with lance-shaped, deeply veined leaves and crowded, terminal and axillary cymes of 3-6 saucer-shaped white flowers, to 2.5cm across, in summer.  To 1m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Added on March 08 2009

Narcissus tazetta subsp. tazetta var. floribundus

See Narcissus tazetta L. for a description of the species.  Narcissus tazetta L. subsp. tazetta, first coined in 1812 in the Transactions of the Horticultural Society [THS vol.1, p.362/1812], is now the accepted name for tazettiform narcissi with pure white segments and yellow corona. Baker describes 3 major series of N. tazetta: Tazettinae bicolores with white segments and yellow corona; Tazettinae albae with white segments and corona; and Tazettinae luteae with segments and corona both yellow. In addition Baker provides descriptions of a number of subspecies and varieties. In terms of distinguishing the several forms grown by William Macarthur, Baker’s system is rather helpful and is also given here [Baker Am.]. Macarthur’s Narcissus floribundus is probably Baker’s Narcissus tazetta L. subsp. lacticolor var. polyanthus.

The illustration used here, of tazettiformes growing at Camden Park today, includes representatives of all three of Baker’s series. Many more forms grow in the gardens.

Baker describes floribundus as a Tazettinae bicolores, differing little from the type.  [Baker Am.].  Grey describes it as originating from the French Riviera and having 12-20 flowers per stem, with pure white segments and pale sulphur-yellow corona, ageing to white, which seems very close to Narcissus polyanthos Loisel., described as a Tazzetinae albae by Baker.  [Baker Am.].

Added on May 23 2009

Myrtus communis L.

Frost-hardy, upright, bushy shrub with opposite, ovate, glossy leaves, to 5cm long, and solitary, white, 5-petalled flowers, to 2cm across, with conspicuous white stamen-tufts, in summer and autumn, followed by purple-black berries.  To 3m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Added on January 18 2010

Erica baccans L.

Half-hardy, robust, erect, many-branched heath with axillary whorls, to 2.5cm long, each with 4 spherical, deep pink flowers, 6mm across, with keeled, dark pink sepals, in winter and spring.  To 2.5m.  [RHSE, Hortus]. 

Added on January 09 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 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

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

Camellias at Camden Park

Most of the camellias grown at Camden Park are cultivars of Camellia japonica L., the ‘Common camellia’, a native of China, Korea and Japan.  The first plant introduced to Britain in 1739, and figured in Curtis's Botanical Magazine [BM t.42/1788], is close to the wild type.  It bears single red flowers in early spring but is rarely planted now and was not grown at Camden Park.  William Macarthur was an important breeder of camellias and many of the cultivars described in the Hortus were bred by him.  Unfortunately few of these have survived.  

Published Mar 13, 2010 - 02:43 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2010 - 02:46 PM

Letters on the Culture of the Vine Part 2: Climate and Soil

Letters on the Culture of the Vine and Manufacture of Wine by Maro, pen-name of William Macarthur. Letters I and II deal with climate, site and soil.

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 01, 2010 - 03:26 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 11:16 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.