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

Rhododendron indicum ‘Atrorubens’

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

Added on June 07 2009

Malus domestica ‘Kingston Black’

Fruit; of medium size and irregular in shape. Skin; dark mahogany or deep crimson, deep yellow-orange where shaded, the surface strewn with fine cinnamon russet dots. Flesh; yellowish, pink near the skin, fine grained. the juice is plentiful, rich, tawney-red in colour and agreeable in flavour, moderately sweet, pleasantly acid with an astringent after taste. [HP pl.XLV/1878].


Added on April 16 2010

Punica granatum ‘Flore Alba’

See Punica granatum L.  ‘Flore Alba’ is a cultivar with white flowers.  [RHSD, Hortus, JD].


Added on March 05 2010

Dianthus caryophyllus Sharpe’s ‘Duke of Wellington’

For generic information on the garden Carnation and Picotee see Dianthus caryophyllus L.  Sharpe’s ‘Duke of Wellington’ is a ‘heavy-edged red picotee; petals broad and well formed, white fine, and red very brilliant but not quite confined to the edge.’  [Gard. Chron. 1842].  ‘White pure, and very fully feathered; the guard leaves are rather too small, sometimes rather too much bowed.’  [Gard. Chron. 1843].  ‘Sharpe’s “Duke of Wellington” at present stands unrivalled among the heavy red-edged flowers, notwithstanding the smoothness of the petals and peculiarity of colour.’  [Gard. Chron. 1843].  ‘Heavy-edged, red picotee: pod large but rather short; petals broad and well formed and crowning finely; ground good and clear; edging well marked and regular.  [FC p.42/1849].  ‘Were it not for its pudding-shaped pod, which makes it very liable to burst, this would be the best heavy red out, as it is, if caught, a very pretty flower, round in its shape, good in its colour, and deserving a place in any collection.’  [BF p.219/1844].

Added on April 11 2009

Rhododendron indicum ‘Alba’

Probably a cultivar of Rhododendron indicum Sweet but see History and Notes. ‘This Azalea is said to have been introduced from China, by Mr. Brookes, of the Nursery, Ball’s Pond, in 1819.  It is now commonly cultivated in our greenhouses, and is, I believe, generally considered to be a white-flowered variety if Azalea indica. […] But if the two plants be compared, many differences will be discovered which have led me to describe the present as a species.  The A. indica, for example, is a very free growing plant, arriving at a height of eight or ten feet, with long, twiggy, pendant shoots. […] A. ledifolia blossoms at the same season, with the indica, namely, at the latter end of the winter, and in early spring, and requires the same treatment.  It is not indeed a plant which boasts such vivid colours as the common Indian Azalea, but it is not less worthy of cultivation on account of the extreme delicacy and pure whiteness of the flowers, and their fragrant scent.’  [BM t.2901/1829].  

Added on June 04 2009

Fuchsia Story’s ‘Queen Victoria’

Story’s ‘Queen Victoria’ had ‘splendid wide sepals, beautifully reflexed, of a bright scarlet crimson, and a lovely clear white corolla.’  Advertisement from Messrs. E. G. Henderson & Son.  [Gard. Chron. 1855].  

Added on August 19 2009

Mahonia aquifolium (Pursh) Nutt.

Fully hardy suckering shrub with bright green, holly-like pinnate leaves, each with up to 9 ovate, spiny leaflets, sometimes turning red in autumn, and dense, terminal racemes of yellow flowers in spring followed by blue-black berries.  To 1m.  [RHSE, Hilliers', Hortus].  

Added on February 26 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


Rambles in New Zealand - Part 1

Rambles in New Zealand is the only published work of John Carne Bidwill of any length and an important document in the early colonial history of that country.
It is included in the Hortus for a number of reasons but mainly because, together with his letters to The Gardeners’ Chronicle, it completes the known published works of Bidwill. His importance in the history of the Camden Park gardens and the lack of any substantive treatment of his life and achievements make it appropriate to include all his published work here.

Rambles is published here in four parts:
Part 1 – dedication, Preface, pages 1-29
Part 2 – pages 30-59
Part 3 – pages 60-89
Part 4 – pages 90 -93, List of Subscribers

Published Feb 29, 2012 - 08:45 AM | Last updated Feb 29, 2012 - 03:08 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

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

A Few Words on Gesneraceous Plants

The family Gesnereaceae was an important contributor to the diversity of the colonial garden of Camden Park, with 97 plants described in the Hortus, mainly from the genera Achimenes and Sinningia. This short article provides a good overview of the history of Gesneriads as garden plants, and some very useful advice on their culture. Unfortunately I have lost the source reference, but the content suggests that it was written for an Australian colonial readership. The article is simply signed L.W.

Published Jun 26, 2010 - 03:01 PM | Last updated Jun 26, 2010 - 03:19 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.