Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

National Science Week 16 - 24 August 2014

Australian PlantBank Open Day

Find out how the Australian PlantBank is saving the world a seed at a time when it opens to the public on Sunday, 24 August from 11 am until 4 pm for a FREE fun family day.

For an experience found nowhere else in Australia (and the world), give your children an insight into the cutting-edge plant research and conservation taking place at this award winning building surrounded by the beautiful Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan.

'The Australian PlantBank is the place to be for a totally Australiana plant encounter. Once you’ve been I guarantee you’ll leave excited by the endless potential of Australian native plants,' said Dr Brett Summerell, Deputy Executive Director, Science and Conservation.

'The PlantBank reveals in a very captivating way why this country is ranked fifth in the world for plant mega-diversity and why it’s imperative we conserve our flora.'

'The importance of plants and their uses in our everyday lives will never be taken for granted again.'

A day of fun is guaranteed with a sausage sizzle, florally inspired face painting, botanical illustrators, a coffee cart, nursery tours at 12 pm and 2 pm, seed planting and a pop-up seed shop. Meet really cool scientists, hear talks on the latest in plant science and find out what goes on in the PlantBank, or tour the facility at your own pace by downloading a new FREE app. 

Dr Summerell said during the behind the scenes tours you’ll discover where millions of precious living seeds from wild plants are safely stored.

'Don’t miss seeing the atmospheric blue light flooded vault where we store the seeds. It’s also fascinating to learn about the process of cryogenic storage - that’s when tissue culture is stored in temperatures as low as -196oC. Cryogenic storage is used when some seeds such as those from rainforest plants contain too much water and can’t be stored or diseases such as myrtle rust can shut down a plant’s ability to produce seed,' he said.

'The infectious passion of our scientists and their breadth of knowledge about plants will inspire many advocates for plant conservation - this will be a special day-out for people of all ages. 

'There’s adventures to be had inside and outside the Australian PlantBank. I encourage people to set aside the day to explore Australia’s largest botanic garden as well as the PlantBank. Bring a picnic rug, there’s BBQ facilities, a trail bike track and one of Australia’s largest collections of wattle species will be in spectacular full bloom', he said.

We’re saving the world … one seed at a time! Millions of precious living seeds from wild plants are safely stored in the seed vault. Sub-zero vacuum packs, tissue-culture and cutting-edge cryogenic storage techniques; visit our labs on Sunday 24 August to see just how we do it. Delve into the secret lives of plants - survival strategies, amazing adaptations, reproductive feats and more.

Join us during National Science Week for the Australian PlantBank Open Day. This world class science and research facility has only recently opened. The day will be full of exciting and surprising demonstrations, talks and walks including an education station with plant science activities. Our botanical illustrators will be showcasing their beautiful art and the intricacies of plants. The art won't just be on the page, younger visitors can wear their floral art with help from talented face painters. Scientists including the cool molecular team and taxonomists will be on hand giving demos using the microscopes. Take advantage of the behind the scene tours or a Garden highlights tour or download the app and engage with the self-guided tour where you can discover fun, interesting and educational information at your own pace. There will be a delicious barbecue as well.

When: Sunday, 24 August 2014, 11.00 am to 4.00 pm
Where: The Australian PlantBank, the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, Narellan Road, Mount Annan
Theme: Environment and nature
Cost: Free
Other: Wheelchair access
Further information: Belinda Howell, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, email or phone 02 4634 7933

The Australian Botanic Garden is on Narellan Road, Mount Annan. Open daily 10 am until 5 pm. FREE Entry.

ClimateWatch Trail Walk in the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

ClimateWatch was developed to understand the effects climate change is having on our earth's natural processes. It is the first project of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney trail was the first developed on the east coast of Australia. ClimateWatch will allow every Australian to be involved in collecting and recording data that will help shape the country’s scientific response to climate change.

On this trail you will learn:

  • the role of ‘citizen scientists’
  • what indicator species are and why they were selected
  • how to collect data by observing and recording flora and wildlife in the Royal Botanic Garden
  • how to use the ClimateWatch App
  • how to record data from indicator species found  in  your own area

ClimateWatch empowers every Australian to become a citizen scientist, collecting and recording data that will help shape the country’s scientific response to climate change.

When: Wednesday 20 August and Friday 22 August, 10 am - 12 noon
Where: Meet at the Information Booth outside the Garden Shop at the Palm Grove Centre, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
Cost: Free
Bookings essential: as numbers are limited 9231 8304

Endeavouring Science

Back by popular demand, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust - in collaboration with the Australian National Maritime Museum - presents ‘Endeavouring Science’.

Participants will step back in time more than 200 years on board HMB Endeavour - a replica of the ship James Cook commanded during his voyage to Australia in 1770 - and re-trace the botanical experiences of Endeavour botanists Sir Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander by examining plant specimens from Kamay Botany Bay National Park in Kurnell (Sydney) in the ship’s Great Cabin.

Discuss botany, past and present. Discover the science of cannons, astronomy and air pressure. Hear all about the diseases that afflicted passengers during Captain Cook’s maiden voyage to Australia. And, take in some sailing techniques from the experts on board.

Flora botanist Louisa Murray from the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust will demonstrate how to make a specimen collection and guide participants in looking for differences between Banksia species, the genus named after Sir Joseph Banks. Participants will also take a look at how the plants of the Botany Bay area were used by the local Aboriginal people for medicines and food.

When:  Saturday 23 August 10 am to 4.30 pm
Where: On board HMB Endeavour at Australian National Maritime Museum, 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney
Cost:  Participants must purchase an Australian National Maritime Museum ‘Big Ticket’  $27 - adults; $16 - child/concession; and $70 - family
Bookings: Website: - then click on ‘Events’ (under the ‘Events & Activities’ tab)

The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust & Taronga Zoo Education Partnership

The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust is again working with Taronga Zoo to offer National Science Week workshops for primary school students that explore the incredible strategies plants and animals use to adapt to their surroundings. 

Living in a rainforest is as demanding as surviving in the driest of deserts, but for very different reasons. Animals and plants are successful in both environments, but just how do they contend with the extremes of nature?

Expert biologists, including staff from Taronga Zoo and the Trust will deliver specialised workshops and video conference sessions that excite and inspire students to understand and care for animals and plants.

School groups will visit either Taronga Zoo or the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, attending 2 x one hour workshops with a lunch break between sessions. Video conference sessions also available.

When: 19, 20 and 22 August
Where: Taronga Zoo or the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Bookings and information: click here

Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust presents the ‘Dandy Lions’ preschool Science Week program - 'Smelly Plants'

Dandy Lions is a delightful morning of gardening, craft, storytelling and play for young children and their carers. It’s especially designed for children under the age of five years. Join Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, education staff for: garden activities; nature-based art and craft; lively, interactive storytelling; songs, music and dance; garden discovery walks; playtime and fun! Tuesday 19 August and Thursday 21 August.

When: Tuesday 19 August and Thursday 21 August, 10.30 am to 12 pm

'Science in the Swamp' program at Centennial Parklands

Education staff from the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust are participating in the ‘Science in the Swamp’ program at Centennial Parklands.

When: Saturday 16 August
Where: Centennial Parklands
Cost: Free

All things daffodil - growing bulbs successfully

Join horticulturist Penelope White to learn the secrets to bulb growing success. Learn general cultivation and care tips for growing both spring and summer flowering bulbs with a hands on propagation workshop.

When: Thurs 21 August, 10.30 am-12.30 pm
Where: Waratah Education Centre, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah
Cost: Members $18, non-members $20, includes morning tea and materials
Bookings: Book online or phone 9231 8182

Crystals in the Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden is part of the 'Crystals in the City' project, celebrating the UN International Year of Crystallography 2014. There will be a touch of glam in the Garden Shop where the GIANT diamond crystal structure will be featured. The diamond is one of a number of crystal structures on display in cities across Australia, sponsored by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

The crystal structure installations will highlight how and why the science of crystallography has made all of our lives better, from a material that keeps your phone functioning, to the shiny gem on your finger, to medicines that treat millions every year.

Although you’re unlikely to find a diamond sitting around in the Royal Botanic Garden, you will find lots of materials that make use of the carbon atom’s affinity of bonding to lots of other atoms. Carbon is the versatile element that forms the building blocks of us all and the environment around us. For example, carbon forms the building blocks of lignin - the supportive structure in plants. Most trees would topple over without it!

When: 21-31 August
Where: Garden Shop, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
Further information: click here





Australian PlantBank. Photos: John Gollings

Diversity Wall. Photo: Simone Cottrell 

African tulip tree. Photo: Donna Osland

Succulent Garden


Learn how to grow your own bulbs