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

Lychnis chalcedonica L.

Fully hardy, erect, stiff perennial with umbel-like cymes of star-shaped scarlet flowers in summer. White and double garden cultivars are available.  To 1.2m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Added on February 01 2009

Gladiolus cardinalis x (x gandavensis) [#12]

Gladiolus cardinalis x Gladiolus x gandavensis hybrid no.12 in Macarthur’s notebook no.4 in an entry dated 1847.  ‘Gladiolus cardinale inflato major [by] Gandavensis.  No.12.  Rather slender scapes, smallish flowers, pink and yellow with dark purple narrow blotch [on the] anterior lobes.  Middling.’ [MP A2948-4].

Added on October 22 2009

Rhododendron ‘Lowii’

An English-bred hybrid with white flowers.  [PD].  I have found no more detailed description and no date of introduction is given.  

Added on June 19 2009

Gladiolus hirsutus x alatus

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

Added on October 23 2009

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

Hibiscus syriacus L. var. purpurea plena

For information on the species see Hibiscus syriacus L. var. alba simplexPurpurea plena is a form with double red to purple flowers.  [PD].

Added on January 13 2010

Sinningia speciosa ‘Rubra-splendens’

A cultivar of Sinningia speciosa (Lodd.) Hiern. This cultivar is not listed in Sinningia Register Appendix of extinct cultivar names.  I have found no specific description but it is likely to be very similar to, or identical with, Sinningia speciosa (Lodd.) Hiern var. rubra, which see.  The latter was figured in the Floricultural Cabinet in 1841.  That illustration is given here [FC p.98/1841].  Rubra was introduced to Philadelphia from Brazil and may be a naturally occurring colour form.

Added on September 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


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 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

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

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

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.