Sunday 24 May 2015

Camden Park springs into bloom

2015  Open Day

Camden Park Garden
Camden Park Garden Open Day 2011 in the Cool House with Garden Group volunteers. (Picasa/Leahwyn)

Camden Park Garden historian Colin Mills stated in 2011 that the 'historic value of the Camden Park gardens is almost inestimable' and 'the basic framework of the gardens remains with many historically significant trees and shrubs surviving'. 

The principle founder of the garden was William Macarthur around 1840 as a nursery. According to Mills 'he certainly sought to create a pleasant gentleman's garden at Camden'. Although Macarthur's 'real interest was in growing useful, unusual, exotic and beautiful plants for their own sake as well as for their utility'. He established the first garden in 1820 and up to 1961 grew 'more then 3000 species, hybrids and cultivars'.  

Mills has stated that Macarthur grew many more species in the decades following the 1860s. Macarthur was an 'innovator' and experimented with acclimatisation and sought the knowledge of groups like the Queensland Acclimatisation Society (1862).

The post-war period was not kind to the garden. The estate was under financial pressure and the garden suffered from lack of attention. The present owners John and Edwina Macarthur Stanham have done much to arrest the decline of the garden, with the assistance of the Garden Group volunteers.

Read more about the history of the garden and  its botanical details @ . Inspect the gardens in September 2014. 
This webpost is dedicated to the memory of Colin Mills.

Colin Mills inspects the garden needs in 2012 (L Seed)

Colin Mills investigates the needs of the Bidwell Garden near the Bush House. Colin was the founder of the Camden Park Nursery Group in 2005 which aims to propagate and re-introduce plants that have been lost from gardens of William Macarthur between the 1840s and 1860s.

Camellia Garden at Camden Park (Camden Park)

The magnificence of the lower garden is clearly shown in this early 20th century image of the Camellia garden below the main house. The Camellia garden is one of the areas that the Camden Park Nursery Group has been restoring in recent years. There are a number of early plantings that show promise for the future. It is anticipated that more work is required in the garden to bring it back to the state shown in this image. The Orchid House is shown below with a number visitors in this early 20th century image.

Orchid House in the Camden Park Garden (Camden Park) 

In the early 20th century Camden Park employed a number of garden staff to look after the extensive gardens. During the time of Sibella Macarthur Onslow and Enid Macarthur Onslow the gardens were regularly used as the site of community fundraisers for the Red Cross and other charities. Visitors always spoke glowingly of the magnificence of the gardens, especially in spring. The gardens were always compared to the English style estate gardens.

Clivias in the garden at Camden Park open day 2013 (I Willis)

Open Day 21 September 2013

Visitors today enjoyed a wonderful day at Camden Park with beautiful sunny weather with a temperature of 22 degrees. The mild conditions gave the many people who visited the historic property pleasant conditions to walk around the garden or inspect the colonial mansion. Visitors lined up to inspect the house of James and William Macarthur that was built between 1831 and 1835 and designed by architect John Verge. The house is Palladian style flanked by symmetrical pavilions. Other occupants of the house have included Elizabeth Macarthur Onslow in the late 1800s, her daughter Sibella Macarthur Onslow in the early 20th century and son James and his wife Enid in 1932.
Garden tour open day 2013 (I Willis)
The current occupants of the house John and Edwina  offered the visitors the opportunity to enjoy an atmosphere of an English-style country fair on the lawn with sausage sandwiches, devonshire teas, plant stalls, souvenir stalls, and other stalls. With the backdrop of the colonial mansion. A tour of garden of was led in the afternoon by horticulturalist Euan  who spoke to a large group of visitors who inspected the clivias and a host of the plants in the historic garden. Enthusiastic gardeners could buy a souvenir of a rare plant that had been struck by members of the garden group. Members of the garden group had worked hard to prepare the garden for a wonderful show of colour and charm.

Camden Park Nursery Group

The nursery group has undertaken the restoration, conservation and preservation  of the  19th century garden of colonial identity and horticulturalist William Macarthur. This is  a significant heritage project in the historically important Australian  colonial property of Camden Park.   

Heritage Importance
The New South Wales heritage branch inventory states that parts of the garden are of unusual industrial and historical archaeological significance and have the potential to reveal much about the 19th century practice of nursery gardening and horticulture on a large scale.

The Nursery Group
The group was established in 2005 with a grant from the Camden Park Preservation Committee. The work of the group and its volunteers is supplemented through the sale of heritage plants propagated on site.
Colin Mills leading garden tour on Camden Park Open Day 2009 (IWillis)
The group was led by Colin Mills, until his untimely death in late 2012, and has regular monthly working bees of volunteers who undertake a variety of projects in the garden.

The nursery group won the 2011 NSW Government Heritage Volunteers Award for their ground-breaking effort in the restoration of this important colonial garden. 

Camden Park Open day
The work of this voluntary group has meant that in recent years the colonial gardens have become an important part of the Camden Park open days where the members of the general public can gain an understanding and appreciation of this historic asset. 

Members of the nursery group lead tours of the colonial garden on open days and other occasions and explain their work and the historic, social, economic, technological and archaeological importance of the conservation and restoration work of the garden.

Colin Mills leading a garden tour on Camden Park Open Day 2010 (IWillis)

Hortus Camdensus, A web-based catalogue
The work of the Camden Park Nursery Group has been  supported by Colin Mills’s  ground breaking work in  developing the website Hortus Camdensus, An illustrated catalogue of plants grown by Sir William Macarthur at Camden Park NSW Australia between 1820 and 1861.

Ian Willis, Reference Supporting Nomination for NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards 2011, Submission, Camden, 2011

1 comment:

  1. Would anyone be able to tell me where I can purchase a camellia called "Camden Park"
    My email address is
    Many Thanks