Botanical Studies
The HRBG Herbarium was established in 1992 and holds a collection of over 10,000 dried plant specimens. The majority of specimens have been collected within the Hunter Region. The remainder come from other areas within Australia. Specimens are also taken from living plant collections within the botanic gardens. A number of herbarium collections have been donated to the HRBG herbarium including the important CSIRO Robert Story collection from the 1960s. These collections are a valuable record of flora and habitat loss in the Hunter Valley since settlement.
Future accessions will aim to increase the scope and diversity of the collection. The specimens together with collection data can be used now and in the future for identification, education and research. 
Collected plant specimens are identified, pressed and mounted before being lodged in the herbarium. All herbarium specimens are added to a plant database. The collection is stored in a climate controlled specimen room to discourage destructive pest infestation and optimise preservation of specimens. 
The herbarium also houses a curated fungi collection. The fungi collection at HRBG commenced in 2010 when very little was known about what fungi occurred within the gardens. The collection is curated using procedures and policies already in place at other herbaria and adapted to our situation keeping within the guidelines of acceptable practice. The collection is small but is expanding with collections now made beyond the garden gates to within the Hunter Region. Since 2010 the HRBG has contributed to Fungimap Inc and, through the Victorian Herbarium, has contributed to overseas research. Assistance has been sort by mycologists for identification of species and there is the likelihood that new species have been discovered within the gardens. 
Both plant and fungi specimens are available for research by other institutions or individual researchers.
Details of plant and fungi collections are included in the Atlas of NSW Wildlife, a whole-of-government system for flora and fauna sightings information in NSW. 
The HRBG Living Collection is designed to showcase the diversity of plants, with an emphasis on Australian native plants. A range of theme gardens show examples of well-known plant genera such as grevillea, acacia, banksia, melaleuca, callistemon, prostanthera and many others. Exotic plant collections include camellias, succulents and bromeliads. HRBG also maintains both a temperate and a tropical orchid house.
An active propagation program allows the cultivation of plants by seed and cutting for use in our theme gardens and for sale to the public. The 140 hectare HRBG site, in addition to cultivated gardens, comprises a number of native bush communities including wetlands and open forests. These areas are maintained in their natural state, through a weed management program, and are accessible via a variety of marked walking trails.
Australia has the world’s most diverse range of terrestrial orchids but many are threatened by agricultural and urban development. The ongoing fieldwork carried out by Lynda McPherson is based on her Honours research and examines the phenology (seasonal cycles) of local terrestrial orchids. The work  examines 24 native orchid species, comprises a book, watercolour paintings, photography, flowering timelines, orchid survey and herbarium specimens. The book is supplemented with a reflective nature diary recording the subjective experience of seasonal variances in local flora, fauna and weather patterns over twelve months.
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