An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

ClimateWatch meets royalty

12 June 2014

By Linden Ashcroft

Jenny Pattison meets HRH Princes Laurentien of the Netherlands

Jenny Pattison chats to Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands last month. Image: Simone Cottrell, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

Jenny Pattison, Volunteer Guide from the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney introduced HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands to ClimateWatch last month when she visited Sydney. Jenny only had a few minutes with the princess, but managed to outline the program and show off the field guide for the Garden. Princess Laurentien is an avid environmentalist and was very interested in the ClimateWatch work being done in Australia.

Meanwhile, guided ClimateWatch walks for the public were held at the Sydney and Melbourne botanic gardens on the 12th and 13th of May, to get a snapshot of how ClimateWatch species were behaving in the two cities.

The focus of the trails was the various ClimateWatch plants present in the botanic gardens. Expert guides Jenny and Pamela (Melbourne) were on hand to provide information about individual species and the history of particular trees.

Most trees were found to be in a similar phenophase (or stage of life cycle) at both gardens. The jacaranda trees still had their leaves, while the flowers of the firewheel tree were on display in both cities.

Jacaranda tree in Sydney

Firewheel tree in Melbourne


A jacaranda tree (Jacaranda mimosifolia) in Sydney (left) and the flowers of a firewheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus) in Melbourne (right) on the Royal Botanic Garden trails. Images: ClimateWatch database.

The only marked difference was the appearance of flowers on the Sydney Illawarra flame tree, compared to the Melbourne specimen which had no blooms. The Sydney flowers may have been left over from last year, as the flame tree is not due to flower until spring.

Buds on an Illawarra flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) in Sydney (left) and open seed pods on an Illawarra flame tree in Melbourne (right) on the Royal Botanic Garden trails. Images: ClimateWatch database.

If you’re interested in taking part in a guided ClimateWatch trail in Sydney or Melbourne, head to the garden websites or Visitors Centre. Regular walks are held in Sydney, leaving from the Information Counter at the Palm Grove Centre. A new series of monthly guided trails is kicking off in Melbourne this month.

Melbourne guided ClimateWatch walk details:

Dates:   Tuesday 24 June 10 am

Tuesday 26 August 10 am

Tuesday 23rd September 10 am

Tuesday 28 October 10 am

Cost: Free, no need to book

Meet: Visitors Centre, Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens

More info:, 03 9016 7590, or the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne website.