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 arboreum Sm. var. venustum

See Rhododendron arboreum Sm. for details.  I have no specific description of venustum which may be merely a synonym for R. arboreum.  See Notes for further explanation.

Added on June 18 2009

Passiflora subpeltata Ort.

Frost-tender climbing perennial with trilobed leaves up to 8cm wide and wholly green-white or creamy white flowers, to 5cm across, in spring and summer, followed by ovoid, greenish fruits, to 4cm across.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Added on January 31 2010

Erythrina caffra Thunb.

Frost-tender, wide-spreading, semi-evergreen tree with sometimes prickly branches, prickly-stalked leaves composed of 3 leaflets, and dense, terminal racemes, to 15cm long, of orange-scarlet flowers with broad, arching, standard petals, in spring.  To 18m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Added on December 17 2009

Rosa ‘Vesta’

Categorised by Catherine Gore as a Provins rose, by Paul as a Gallica rose and by Don as a Centifolia.  Gore describes ‘Vesta’ as a shrub, of which the buds are never red, a characteristic which distinguishes it from a number of very similar roses, the flowers large, semi-double, the petals velvety, of a light vivid crimson.  [Gore, Paul 1848, FC p.267/1835].


Added on February 11 2010

Malus domestica ‘Braddick’s Nonpareil’

Fruit; medium, roundish and flattened. Skin; smooth, greenish yellow, brownish-red next the sun, russet around the eye, and patches of brown russet elsewhere. Flesh; yellowish, rich, sugary and aromatic. [HP pl.XXI/1878].

Added on April 16 2010

Penstemon perfoliatus A.Brongn.

‘Vigorous penstemon with medium blue flowers.  Interesting gray-green broad leaves that wrap the stems to the extent that it appears the stem has pierced through them.’  [Rocky Mountain Rare Plants - Online Reference -].

Added on September 24 2009

Commersonia echinata Forst.

‘A low shrub, with tomentose, irregularly-twisted branches.  leaves cordate […].  Flowers small, white, in lateral panicles, coming out opposite the leaves.’  [BM t.1813/1816].  ABR t.603/1810.

Added on March 12 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


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

Rambles in New Zealand - part 3

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 - 02:11 PM | Last updated Mar 01, 2012 - 07:02 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

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

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.