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The role of botanic gardens

A botanic garden is a living laboratory filled with plants from all around the world. Visitors come and enjoy the beauty of the gardens full of colourful flowers, shrubs and trees, and sometimes see the animals which use the botanic gardens as their habitat.

Botanic Gardens are filled with people with all kinds of skills and responsibilities to ensure the garden thrives and visitors can learn and enjoy the space.

  • Horticultural staff ensure plants are healthy, getting enough water and nutrients throughout the year.
  • Rangers patrol gardens to ensure everyone is following the rules (making sure no one steps on the flowers or have brought in their pets) and to offer help where needed.
  • Arborists are specialist tree climbers, that trim limbs of trees that are at risk of falling. Arborists also assess the health of trees.
  • Botanists and other biologists study, experiment and share their knowledge of plants.
  • Educators help here as well, by offering tours to people and excursions for students to learn about nature.

Take this 360 degree virtual tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney to explore what you might find there.

Watch an interview with plant scientist, Dr Marco Duretto about the work botanic gardens do.


Activities - The role of botanic gardens

1. Exploring the botanic gardens

large old gates into the Royal Botanic Gardens SydneyThe Royal Botanic Gardens 'Living Laboratory virtual tour' and the 'What is a herbarium video?' are full of examples of what you might see if you visited the gardens, what scientist are working on and details about some iconic plant species. Explore them both again and answer these questions.

  1. What is the roll of the Plant Clinic? Name one plant disease of concern to Australian plants.
  2. What is The Calyx? What might you expect to see there?
  3. Choose one plant species you might see on your visit and describe the importance of this plant.
  4. How many plant specimens does the National Herbarium of New South Wales contain? Why is this Herbarium important?

2. Curing Plant Blindness

Find a green space around your house or school (It could be your backyard, school playground, a park, or bushland).

Measure a green area of 2x2m and count all the different plants that you can see within this area.

Repeat the same at another area and compare the numbers.

Discuss what influences the difference in numbers. 


3. Looking for Patterns

Look closely in your backyard or school playground: do you see patterns in nature? Can you find symmetry, spiral or radiating patterns in flower petals, spiderwebs or seed pods?

Gather natural materials to create your own pattern. Use flower petals, leaves, pine cones, stones, sticks and natural items you find on the ground. Place your centrepiece and using your found objects create a pattern around it.

(Note: only use things that are on the ground already. Don’t tear leaves or flowers from living plants.) 


4. Find our Natural Seedbanks!

Go to a garden bed, a park, or a forest.

Take a trowel, sieve and a white container. Sieve scoops of dirt and see how many seeds you can find.

What else can you find in the leaf litter and the soil?

Activity Sheet

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