Plant Science Festival

Plant Science Festival at the National Botanic Gardens

What: A festival to celebrate and investigate plants and plant science
When: 14th until 20th November
Where: National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, Ireland

As part of Science Week the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin are hosting a Plant Science Festival to investigate and celebrate plant science. Join us during the week of the festival for talks, demonstrations, tours, botanical art workshops, and interactive experiments.

Do you want to know about the diversity of plants from tiny seeds to towering trees? How plants work and what technology we use to investigate how plants as planetary engineers have moulded our world? Find out about the ingenious adaptations that have evolved in the plant world. Or how about some tea and chocolate? We will have a talk on tea with a tea ceremony and tea tasting. We will also have a talk on chocolate and maybe some tasting at that too! Find out what is the difference between a moss and a liverwort and then make your own terrarium using some lush green mosses. Find out how we can use 200 year old dried plant specimens to inform us about the past and then try your hand at extracting data from these specimens to add to a national initiative of digitising over 600,000 specimens. There will be art workshops using plant pigments and a botanical art workshop. Our careers day on Friday the 18th of November will showcase plant science and plant science careers and we invite secondary school students in particular for this day. We will have demonstrations of experiments and technologies used in plant science. On Saturday 19th, we will have two experiments in the gardens where families will be encouraged to investigate how plant leaves adapt to the environment they are in. Join our staff on the Bark Life or Biomimicry tours or just come along and see what is happening. There will be something for everyone.

We have events throughout the week. A data capture exercise will be running all week in the herbarium building. Short talks and demonstrations will be held at 2pm and 3pm each day and tours will be run each day from the Visitor Centre.

Friday the 18th will be a careers day to showcase some wonderful plant science careers and to show some of the exciting research ongoing in this “field”. Secondary students and particularly TY students are welcome. Please book a time slot here. We will have a Festival Keynote Lecture on Friday from Professor Liam Dolan of the Gregor Mendel Institute. Book tickets for the keynote here.

On Saturday 19th there will be family activities, such as partaking in experiments and botanical art workshops.

Talks and demonstrations
Monday 14th Nov, 14:00, Auditorium, Visitor Centre
Using herbarium specimens to unlock the past
Dr Colin Kelleher, Keeper of the National Herbarium, will show what we can learn from plant specimens that are hundreds of years old. A current project to digitise the Irish herbarium collection will be taken as an example.

Monday 14th Nov, 15:00, Auditorium, Visitor Centre
Pirates, Pilgrims and Periglacial Zones – a look at origins of Ireland’s wild plants
Dr Darach Lupton, Curator of the National Botanic Gardens will present a brief history of the Irish flora, focusing on some Ireland’s most enigmatic plants and their possible origins.

Tuesday 15th Nov, 14:00, Auditorium, Visitor Centre
Plants and their DNA
Dr Colin Kelleher, Keeper of the National Herbarium. Did you know that an onion cell has 5 times as much DNA as a human cell? Why so much DNA for such a simple organism? We will also have a demonstration of extracting DNA using household chemicals.

Tuesday 15th Nov, 15:00, Auditorium, Visitor Centre
Bewildered by Bryophytes? Followed by a Terrarium making workshop
Dr Christina Campbell, Botanist in the National Botanic Gardens, will talk about the similarities and differences between mosses and liverworts, collectively known as bryophytes, with an opportunity to test out your knowledge! There will be a terrarium making workshop afterwards.

Wednesday 16th Nov, 14:00, Auditorium, Visitor Centre
Tea Time – The History of Tea
Dr Darach Lupton, Curator of the National Botanic Gardens will take us on a journey through history of the tea plant (Camelia sinensis); this will include a traditional Chinese Tea ceremony and the tasting of some traditional brews.

Thursday 17th Nov, 14:00, Auditorium, Visitor Centre
A Plethora of Plants
Dr Wuu Kuang Soh, Botanist in the National Botanic Gardens, will talk about the diversity of plants and demonstrate their occurrence in our everyday food; this will include a demo on making Thai green curry paste.

Thursday 17th Nov, 15:00, Auditorium, Visitor Centre
A Liking for Lichens
Dr Christina Campbell, Botanist in the National Botanic Gardens, will give a brief introduction to lichens and a demonstration of chemical ‘spot test’ colour changes used in helping to identify species.

Friday 18th Nov, 12:00, Auditorium, Visitor Centre
The Age of Chocolate
Dr James Richardson from University College Cork will take us on a tour of the history and diversity of chocolate, discussing how ecological and evolutionary studies may contribute to improving the chocolate industry. There might even be a few bars of chocolate on offer!

Friday 18th Nov, 14:00, Auditorium, Visitor Centre
Festival Keynote Lecture
Plants: the planetary engineers that make life on Earth possible Book free tickets here
We are delighted to be joined by Professor Liam Dolan FRS from the Gregor Mendel Institute in Vienna, Austria to present our festival keynote lecture. Professor Dolan’s research uses genetics and fossils to understand how plants transformed from relatively simple algae to complex plants like trees around 450 million years ago and transformed the planet and its climate. He will present an interesting tour of plant life on Earth.

Interactive data capture and experiments
Monday 14th to Friday 18th, 10:00 to 16:00, Herbarium Building
Data capture in the herbarium
The herbarium holds over 600,000 thousand plant specimens with enormous scientific potential and historic importance. An interactive display in the herbarium building will encourage visitors to help in a mass-digitisation project to harvest data from these specimens. Staff will demonstrate the interactive module and illustrate why we are undertaking this project.

Saturday 19th, 10:00 to 16:00, Gallery, Visitor Centre
Are Plants Afraid of Heights – Looking at the Response of Leaves to Height
Join staff in the National Botanic Gardens as we investigate how a tree gets water up to its leaves. We will be sending a climber up to collect leaves, which we will measure to see how trees deal with the dizzying heights of a canopy 30 metres above ground.

Saturday 19th, 10:00 to 16:00, Gallery, Visitor Centre
Plant Adaptation to Environment – leaf margin and temperature
This demonstration attempts to show plant adaptation to environmental cues by using the relationship between leaf margin in various plant species and their surrounding temperature.

Saturday 19th, hourly from 11:00 to 15:00, Gallery, Visitor Centre
Become a Tree in Virtual Reality
Try out a virtual reality experience. This engaging VR experience will bring you on a journey from seed to towering tree.

Demonstrations and Workshops
Daily in the Visitor Centre
Delve Deeper with microscopes
Explore the natural world with the eyes of a child and the aid of a microscope! Families, join us during Science Week for an insightful workshop exploring the natural world as you’ve never seen before.

Friday 18th, Gallery, Visitor Centre
Making Modern Papyrus: experiments with Irish materials and Egyptian techniques
We are delighted to welcome Jill Unkel, Curator of Western Collection and Kristine Rose-Beers, Head of Conservation at the Chester Beatty to show the process of making Papyrus. This demonstration is in association with First Fragments: Biblical Papyrus from Roman Egypt, an exhibition at the Chester Beatty (28 Oct 2022 –3 Sept 2023).

Saturday 19th, 11:00, maximum of 12 participants, Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture
Conserving Natural Heritage – Native Seed Workshop
Native seed workshops will be organised with local invited community groups and will be demonstrated by the tutors and students of Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture.

Saturday 19th, 11:00, maximum of 12 participants, Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture
Soil is Alive – Soil Fauna Workshop
This Soil Fauna Workshop will be undertaken with invited community groups and will be demonstrated by the tutors and students of Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture.

Thurs 17th & Sat 19th at 14:00
Bark Life – A bark themed tour
Join us on a tour all about tree bark. The Bark Life tour will take you around the gardens to discover some interesting facts about bark and discover the many uses that people around the world have found for it.

Wed 16th & Sun 20th at 14:00
Biomimicry Themed Tour
Did you know that the idea for Velcro was sparked by a seed head? Can you guess which plants were responsible for the creation of waterproof paint? Join us on this fascinating tour and find out how scientists are inspired by nature to create ingenious new inventions.

Art Workshops
Friday 18th, 11:00, maximum of 12 participants, Gallery, Visitor Centre
Printing with Plants – Anthotype Workshop with Kasia Kaminska Book free tickets here
Kasia Kaminska will introduce the anthotype printing process, a sustainable photography process made with plants, paper and the sun. Participants will be given a brief introduction to the anthotype and its history as well as a step-by-step demonstration of the process – from gathering materials mindfully to preparing them for printing. Participants will take their prints away to expose their own handmade anthotype in the sun at home. All levels welcome.

Saturday 19th, 11:00 to 15:00, Gallery, Visitor Centre
Botanical Art Workshop, drop by workshop for children
Botanical artist Siobhan Larkin will be running a workshop during the day to give visitors an overview of the links between botanical art and scientific illustration. This will include a hands on activity for children, getting them to observe in a more scientific way through the techniques of nature-based activities and botanical illustration.

Science Week 13-20 Nov 2022