Lynden preserves our natural treasures

Lynden's love of flowers leads to National Herbarium

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BOTANIC BOUNTY: Lynden White carefully mounts a valuable botanic specimen.

BOTANIC BOUNTY: Lynden White carefully mounts a valuable botanic specimen.

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Lynden White volunteers at the National Herbarium preserving our natural plant treasures for future generations.

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When Lynden White retired she found a beautiful and original way to volunteer and give back to the community.

After chatting with a friend who was a guide at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney Lynden began volunteering at the National Herbarium of New South Wales helping preserve the world-renowned collection of over one million plant specimens for future generations.

Previously located at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney for nearly 170 years, the Herbarium has now opened at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan where volunteers are needed to drive crucial preservation work which underpins ground-breaking scientific research.

For the past six years, Lynden has spent one day a week at the Herbarium carefully and creatively mounting dried plant specimens onto card, resulting in beautiful botanical layouts.

These are then stored within the six protective Herbarium vaults with precisely controlled conditions to protect the priceless collection for hundreds of years to come.

"I have no previous botanical experience or training," said Lynden who lives in Balmain. "Just a lifelong love of flowers, plants and embroidery - an interest is all you need to begin.

"The time spent on a specimen varies greatly. Some may take 15 to 20 minutes and can be quite bulky, like a Banksia. Others are very delicate and might have several pieces to mount. These can take up to an hour.

"I feel honoured to be a part of such a rewarding and interesting volunteering program. To work with specimens that date as far back as 1700s is astonishing, you truly learn so much about plants whilst mounting them as well as working alongside Australia's leading botanists, it's really fascinating.

"The role is very diverse, involving science, history, nature, creativity and community, everyday is unique, opening each specimen reveals a new treasure or unexpected surprise that involves different thinking. It's so special to know my signature will live on with the specimens I carefully mounted," said Lynden.

"I'm really excited to be back with the group, in the brand-new facility, to see the specimens showcased and beautifully preserved in their new home."

I feel honoured to be a part of such a rewarding and interesting volunteering program. To work with specimens that date as far back as 1700s is astonishing, you truly learn so much about plants whilst mounting them as well as working alongside Australia's leading botanists, its really fascinating. - Lynden White, volunteer at the National Herbarium.

Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Denise Ora, said, "Volunteering is one of the life bloods of our organisation and has been a part of the way we work for over 40 years. The mounting and preservation work of our Herbarium volunteers is essential in helping to inform decisions about the conservation of our natural environment."

"It's certainly not your average volunteer role and as we enter an exciting stage at the new National Herbarium of New South Wales this team truly is at the forefront of a new era in pioneering plant science research, which is more imperative than ever during such a critical time of climate change."

Botanic specimens are stored in climate-controlled vaults.

Botanic specimens are stored in climate-controlled vaults.

"More than a quarter of a million Herbarium specimens are set to be mounted, along with 8000 new plant specimens being added each year. We are thrilled to welcome more volunteers to continue this vital work at the Australian Institute of Botanical Science."

More than a quarter of a million Herbarium specimens are set to be mounted, along with 8000 new plant specimens being added each year. We are thrilled to welcome more volunteers to continue this vital work at the Australian Institute of Botanical Science. - Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Denise Ora.

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan is also recruiting volunteer guides to lead walks for visitors through horticulture displays and the Australian PlantBank.

For more information on the volunteer program visit www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au

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