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

Poinciana regia Boj. ex Hook.

Frost tender, erect, widely-branching evergreen tree with 2-pinnate leaves, to 60cm long, with numerous leaflets, and loose terminal or axillary racemes of bright scarlet flowers in summer, followed by pods up to 10cm long.  To 12m.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Added on December 24 2009

Oxalis livida Jacq. var. livida Jacq.

No definitive description at present.  Various internet sources illustrate a low growing species with 3-lobed leaves, the lobes rounded and indented at the apex, and bright yellow flowers, to 3cm across.  However, the illustrations of Oxalis dentata in Jacquin’s Oxalis: Monographia Iconibus Illustrata (1794) and Oxalis lateriflora in Plantorum Rariorum Horti Caesarei Schoenbrunnensis (1797-1804) show a long-stemmed plant with similar leaves but flower spikes bearing up to 4 purplish-red flowers.

Added on January 28 2010

Erythrina x bidwillii ‘Blakei’

A cultivar of Erythrina x bidwillii Lindl. which is a hybrid of Erythrina herbacea L. x Erythrina crista-galli L.  A sterile hybrid produced at Camden.  A spiny shrub with leaves composed of 3 obovate to cordiform leaflets, the terminal one larger, intermediate in habit between Erythrina herbacea L. and Erythrina crista-galli L., which see for further details.  ‘Blakei’ conforms more closely to the E. herbacea female parent in not forming a distinct trunk but a large, squat bole from which long arching shoots emerge in the spring.  It flowers on both long terminal racemes, to 30cm or so long, and smaller axillary clusters.  Our observation is that it flowers better from last season’s wood so some care in pruning will probably produce more flowers.  Well grown plants will produce a large number of flower spikes in the spring and early summer and spot flower throughout the summer.  The flower shoots are of a purplish colour and the flowers a brilliant intense red colour, approaching vermillion, much brighter than either parent, equally striking in bud and with the large standard expanded.

The un-ripened growth is quite frost tender and shoots die back in winter to the hardened, woody bole.  In frost-free conditions semi-ripened wood will survive the winter.  ‘Blakei’ forms a rounded shrub that may be 2-3 metres or more across and 2-3 metres high.  [This description is taken from observations of the sole remaining plant at Camden Park, subject to frost each year, and plants that appear identical growing in the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens.  These plants are growing in frost-free conditions.  See Notes below for more detail.]

Added on April 03 2009

Rosa ‘Liesis’

Noisette rose.  Its flowers are pale yellow with deeper centres, large and full, form cupped, very hardy and, according to William Paul, writing in The Gardeners’ Chronicle, useful for a weeper, wall or greenhouse.  He considered it one of the best roses.  Rivers described it as a bright yellow Noisette Rose quite worthy of culture.  [Paul (1863, 1888), Rivers (1863), Gard. Chron. p.461/1863].

Added on February 12 2010

Dahlia ‘Duke of Wellington’

Drummond’s ‘Duke of Wellington’.  ‘A good orange dahlia was much required, and this is one; it has a fine centre and outline, is of medium size, and the colour is bright.  Nothing yet produced in this class comes near it.’  [FC p.10/1849].  ‘Duke of Wellington’ was a firm exhibition favourite from the late 1840s onwards.  Described as an orange-scarlet self, it was considered to be one of the best dahlias sent out in the years 1848-50. It was among the prize takers at the great exhibition of dahlias held in Edinburgh in 1855, and still among the prize winners at the Grand National Dahlia Show in September 1858.  [Gard. Chron. 1858].  Possibly illustrated in the British Florist although the flower shown does not conform to the descriptions given here, being a ball type flower of deep red, almost maroon.  [BF pl.40/1843].  It is quite likely that more than one flower was given the name ‘Duke of Wellington’ although I have only found descriptions of Drummond’s plant.  Few coloured illustrations of dahlias survive from this time.

Added on April 21 2009

Dahlia ‘Metropolitan Purple’

‘Moderate, but rather too starry’, suggesting that it was a semi-cactus type.  [FC p.27/1838].  I have found no detailed description.

Added on April 21 2009

Fraxinus ornus L.

Fully-hardy, bushy-headed, rounded, deciduous tree with pinnate leaves, to 20cm long, composed of 5-9 leaflets, turning purple-red in autumn, and large terminal and axillary panicles of fragrant, creamy flowers in spring and summer.  To 15m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Added on January 20 2010


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


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

Letters on the Culture of the Vine Part 5: Management and Replenishment of the Vineyard

Letters on the Culture of the Vine and Manufacture of Wine by Maro, pen-name of William Macarthur. Letters VII and VIII deal with the management of the vineyard after planting, the use of manures and the replenishment of an exhausted vineyard. The illustration used here is Macarthur’s Plate 2, a section of a vineyard. This is referred to in detail in Part 4, however it does illustrate the method of vine culture recommended and described here, the dwarf-standard method which at this time was practiced mostly in the north of France.

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 09, 2010 - 05:49 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 11:15 AM

The Family Amaryllidaceae at Camden Park

Amaryllidaceae was a very significant family of plants in the history of the Camden Park gardens.  The following Essay provides a little background to these important plants.

Published Jan 01, 2010 - 04:11 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2010 - 02:54 PM

“The Blight” and the Camden Vineyards

Although the general heading of this collection of essays is ‘William Macarthur on Winemaking’ the two letters and two editorials from the Sydney Herald reproduced here are not from William’s pen. They concern the vine blight and its possible causes but also give an interesting perspective on the vineyards at Camden Park and on the esteem with which the Macarthur’s, particularly William, were held as vine growers as early as 1831. This makes them a worthwhile contribution to the story of the Camden Park wineries.

Published Jul 11, 2011 - 12:27 PM | Last updated Jul 17, 2011 - 05:31 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.