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

Dahlia ‘Queen Victoria’

Introduced in 1853, ‘deep yellow, edged with red, well up, and good outline.’  [FC p.37/1853].  ‘Dahlias expected to be extensively cultivated this year include “Queen Victoria”.’  [Gard. Chron. 1853].

Added on April 21 2009

Fragaria x ananassa ‘British Queen’

A cultivar of Fragaria x ananassa Duchesne. ‘Fruit large, sometimes very large, roundish, flattened, and cockscomb shaped, the smaller fruit ovate or conical. Skin pale red, colouring unequally, being frequently white or greenish-white at the apex. Flesh white, firm, juicy, and with a remarkably rich and exquisite flavour.’ [Hogg – Fruit Manual p.267/1860].

Added on June 06 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

Rhododendron indicum ‘Optima’

Probably a cultivar or hybrid of Rhododendron indicum Sweet. Galle lists two azaleas named ‘Optima’.  The first is a late flowering amoena hybrid with large, deep pink flowers which may correspond the plant named Optima figured in Paxton's Magazine of Botany [MB p.55/1845].  The flowers are bright scarlet with deeper spots.  English bred, its parents are unknown.  This is similar to Azalea optima described in the Floricultural Cabinet: ‘Bright rosy-scarlet; flower large and showy.  the plant six feet by four.’  [FC p.137/1848], and: ‘Fine orange, with darker blotch on upper segment; flower large, good form, and very showy.’  [FC p.148/1850].  This is probably Macarthur’s plant.  Wilson & Rehder provide some information on the probable origins of this plant.  ‘Azalea “Optima” with dark scarlet flowers [and] Azalea “Prince Albert” […] were undoubtedly derivatives of R. simsii and representatives of the “Indian Azaleas” of to-day, and the first introductions into America [in 1847] as far as I can discover.’  [Wilson & Rehder p.48].

Galle’s second azalea is an old Ghent Hybrid with yellowish-white flowers, edged reddish-orange, and with a yellow blotch.  This is unlikely to be Macarthur’s plant.

Added on June 06 2009

Camellia japonica ‘Double pink’

A Camellia japonica L. cultivar. Possibly a Camden Park cultivar subsequently named and appearing elsewhere in the catalogues or in William Macarthur’s note books.  No more detailed description is extant.

Added on July 04 2009

Pyrus communis ‘Hacon’s Incomparable’

‘Fruit middle-sized, somewhat turbinate, and a little irregular in its outline, occasioned by one or two slightly protuberant angles near its crown; about two inches and a half deep, and three inches in diameter. Eye small, open; segments of the calyx short and narrow, slightly sunk in a rather wide uneven depression. Stalk an inch long, rather stout, inserted in a somewhat lipped and rather deep cavity. Skin rugose, pale yellow, or yellowish white, a good deal mixed with green, and partially covered with a greyish orange russet, particularly round the stalk. Flesh yellowish white, slightly gritty, but very buttery and melting. Juice abundant, very saccharine, extremely rich, and possessing a high, musky, and perfumed flavour. In perfection in November and December.’ [George Lindley – Orchard Guide p.375/1831].



Added on May 19 2010

Cytisus villosus Pourr.

Frost-tender, low, spineless shrub with soft spreading hairs, trifoliate leaves and yellow flowers, borne in groups of three from the leaf axils in spring.  To 1.2m.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Added on December 17 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


Letters on the Culture of the Vine Part 9: Preparation of Wine

Letters on the Culture of the Vine and Manufacture of Wine by Maro, pen-name of William Macarthur. Letters XVI and XVII describe the manufacture of wine from secondary fermentation to bottling and storage. The illustration used here is Plate 3 from Letters, which illustrates some of the equipment used in the manufacture of wine, described here and in earlier parts.

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 Oct 03, 2010 - 10:34 AM | Last updated Jul 21, 2011 - 11:13 AM

Camellias at Camden Park

Most of the camellias grown at Camden Park are cultivars of Camellia japonica L., the ‘Common camellia’, a native of China, Korea and Japan.  The first plant introduced to Britain in 1739, and figured in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine [BM t.42/1788], is close to the wild type.  It bears single red flowers in early spring but is rarely planted now and was not grown at Camden Park.  William Macarthur was an important breeder of camellias and many of the cultivars described in the Hortus were bred by him.  Unfortunately few of these have survived.  

Published Mar 13, 2010 - 02:43 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2010 - 02:46 PM

Australian native plants in the Hortus

Australian native plants were important to the gardening enterprises of Camden Park.  Even today Australian trees such as Araucaria species, Agathis robusta, Brachychiton populneum, Lagunaria pattersonia, Grevillea robusta and several species of palm very much define the landscape of the gardens.  Australian plants, particularly native orchids and ferns, were sent to England in large numbers in exchange for the exotic plants that were so much desired by Macarthur and his fellow colonists.

Published Mar 13, 2010 - 05:22 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2010 - 02:32 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

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.