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

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

Rhododendron indicum ‘Dunbarri’

A cultivar of Rhododendron indicum Sweet. I have found no reference to this azalea and no description.

Added on June 07 2009

Gladiolus hirsutus x alatus

Gladiolus hirsutus x Gladiolus alatus hybrid.  No description is extant.

Added on October 23 2009

Mimulus ‘Jeffryi’

Probably a Mimulus hybrid or cultivar, perhaps one of the ‘still more beautiful varieties’ mentioned in The Gardeners’ Chronicle.  [Gard. Chron. 1852].  I have found no description.

Added on January 29 2009

Polygala oppositifolia Thunb. var. cordifolia

Half hardy evergreen shrub with opposite, heart-shaped leaves and terminal racemes of purple flowers with a yellowish-green keel, in spring.  To 1m.  The leaves of cordifolia are larger and more heart-shaped than the type.  [RHSD].

Added on March 22 2009

Crassula acutifolia Lam.

Frost tender, succulent, evergreen perennial with erect, sometimes decumbent, branched stems, with opposite, lance-shaped, fleshy leaves, compressed to round in section, and cream flowers in summer.  To 1m.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Added on March 01 2009

Sinningia speciosa ‘Fischeri’

A cultivar of Sinningia speciosa (Lodd.) Hiern. It is not listed under this name in the main Gesneriad Register – Sinningia, or in the Appendix.  I have found no description for this plant.

Added on September 06 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


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

Letters on the Culture of the Vine Part 7: The Vintage (Continued)

Letters on the Culture of the Vine and Manufacture of Wine by Maro, pen-name of William Macarthur. Letters IX, X and XI, reproduced in Part 6, dealt with the vintage, including the theory and practice of fermentation and preparation for winemaking. The vintage is continued in Part 7, letters XII and XIII giving a description of grape harvesting and crushing. The illustration used here is an excellent lithograph showing the grape harvest at the third vineyard at Camden Park in 1878.

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 24, 2010 - 05:07 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 11:14 AM

Letters on the Culture of the Vine Part 3: Grape Varieties and Diseases

Letters on the Culture of the Vine and Manufacture of Wine by Maro, pen-name of William Macarthur. Letters III and IV deal with grape varieties found suitable for New South Wales, and diseases of the vine.

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 - 05:24 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 11:16 AM

The Fuchsias of Camden Park

The first fuchsia introduced to English gardens in 1788 was a variety of Fuchsia magellanica Lam.  This new plant soon attracted the attention of florists and, stimulated by the regular introduction of new species and varieties from South America, selection and hybridisation saw a rapidly increasing number of named varieties available through the nurseries.  The first record of a fuchsia at Camden Park is Fuchsia conica, which arrived on board the ‘Sovereign’ in February 1831.  By 1857 fifty-eight species, cultivars and hybrids had been recorded as growing in the gardens.

Published Mar 14, 2010 - 09:50 AM | Last updated Jun 24, 2011 - 02:45 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.