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

Oxalis mauritiana Lodd.

A bulbous perennial with trifoliate leaves and small pale red flowers, introduced to Britain in 1810.  [Don, LBC no.1780/1831].

Added on January 28 2010

Cereus ferox Haw.

Frost tender, branching, columnar, heavily armed cactus which forms clumps or clambers over rocks, the flowers produced along one side of the stem.  [RHSD, Don].

Added on March 02 2010

Sinningia speciosa ‘Carminata Splendens’

A cultivar of Sinningia speciosa (Lodd.) Hiern. According to an advertisement in The Gardeners' Chronicle of 1849, Messrs. Roddenberry were selling Gloxinia carminata splendens ‘a fine, richly coloured flower, with great beauty of form and substance of petal.  To the very numerous seedling varieties of this handsome tribe of plants, the above named will give an additional and attractive feature.’  This was apparently a quote from Paxton’s Magazine from January, 1849.  The Floricultural Cabinet described carminata splendens, a large flowered variety, as bright rosy-red with a crimson spot inside.  [FC p.135/1853].

Added on September 03 2009

Periploca graeca L.

Frost hardy, twining, deciduous climber with glossy ovate leaves, to 10cm long, and long-stalked corymbs of up to 12 star-shaped, unpleasantly scented flowers, to 2.5cm across, greenish-yellow outside, and purplish inside, in summer, followed by slender seed pods, to 12cm long, which release silky-tufted seeds.  To 9m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Added on February 24 2010

Rheum undulatum Pall.

Rheum undulatum Pall. is today generally considered to be a variety of Rheum rhaponticum L. which see, Rheum undulatum differing from the common Rhubarb in having rounded stems and wavier leaves.  [RHSD, Hortus].  See Notes in Rheum rhaponticum L. for further details.

Added on February 15 2009

Camellia japonica ‘Euphrasia’

A cultivar of Camellia japonica L. Camden Park bred, seedling 18/50.  ‘Large handsome double red, with a few anthers, three rows of outer petals, very large, very thick, and streaked like Corallina, inner small and crowded, good.’  William Macarthur.  [MP A2948-6].  

Added on June 21 2009

Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.

Bushy, smooth-limbed, small tree or large shrub with lance-shaped leaves and solitary or paired rose-colored flowers, followed by edible round or oval fruits. To 8m. [RHSD, Hortus, Hilliers']. 

Added on June 03 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


Camden Park Roses

Roses were very important to the Camden Park gardens, 297 are listed in the Hortus, substantially more than the next largest genus, Camellia with 140 plants.  This brief review summarises the major types of rose grown and discusses the change in profile of roses over the decades from 1843 to 1861. 

Published Feb 13, 2010 - 02:27 PM | Last updated Jun 27, 2010 - 11:02 AM

A Brief History of the Camden Park Gardens

William Macarthur, born at Parramatta, New South Wales in 1800, was the youngest son of the colonial pioneers John and Elizabeth Macarthur. He became an accomplished agronomist, horticulturist, viticulturist and gardener, but above all he was a plantsman. Although he certainly sought to create a pleasant gentleman’s garden at Camden his real interest was in growing useful, unusual, exotic and beautiful plants for their own sake as well as for their utility. He established his first garden at Camden in 1820. More than 3000 species, hybrids and cultivars were grown in the gardens up to 1861, all of them described in the Hortus. Many more were grown in the succeeding decades. Of course not all of these plants succeeded at Camden. William was an innovator and put much energy into determining which plants could be acclimatised and which could not and he became an authority on the subject, his expertise sought by such bodies as the Queensland Acclimatisation Society, founded in 1862.

The historic value of the Camden Park gardens is almost inestimable.  Many changes have occurred in the gardens in the almost 200 years since they were first laid out, but the basic framework of the gardens remains with many historically significant trees and shrubs surviving. Over the years the diversity of plants in the gardens has naturally diminished. This has occurred mainly since World War II, partly due to a lack of labour to maintain and replace the more sensitive species and varieties. The economic conditions of today make it very difficult to manage extensive private gardens but John and Edwina Macarthur-Stanham, the present owners, have done much to halt and reverse the post-war decline, and there is a very real desire on the part of the family to maintain and develop the gardens.

Published Jun 27, 2010 - 02:25 PM | Last updated Jun 27, 2010 - 02:33 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

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.” ’

Published Aug 25, 2010 - 05:34 PM | Last updated Aug 25, 2010 - 05:51 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.