Cold Spring Harbor Asia Conference 2016

The Latest Advances in Plant Development & Environmental Responses will be revealed at Awaji, Japan

With experts and professors in fields as diverse as receptor-mediated regulation and stem cell signalling – this year’s conference, which draws in hundreds of Scientists every year, will be held at the Awaji Yumebutai Conference Center.

Over the course of four days, over 30 professors from some of the most prestigious Educational institutions in the World will convene in Japan to discuss the Plant-based developments that will change the way we treat our environment.

Built in the aftermath of the 1995’s Great Hanshin Earthquake – this groundbreaking complex (comprising of the conference space, hotel, bar and gardens) was designed by Tadao Ando prior to the devastating quake, that threw Japan into chaos. Thankfully, Ando was allowed to continue his development of the project and the group of bizarre buildings now stand as a monument to those lives who were damaged irrevocably.


We’ll be sending two of our lead researchers out to Awaji at the end of the month to learn from some of the brightest minds that the Science world has to offer, in the hope that they can bring back some fresh news to help us in our own projects. Steve and Joan have been working as Researchers in London’s Scientific institutions for the last 15 years, in all that time, however, they’ve not had the chance to leave the country for a conference.

Here are the 5 things they’re most excited about – looking ahead to the Conference at the end of the month:

Exploring the Hyakudanen

As a life long lover of plant, Steve can’t wait to get to the conference centre and dive right into the ‘hundred stepped garden’. Designed by the complex architect Tando Ando, the garden contains one hundred micro gardens – all perfectly symmetrical and beautifully kept.

Keiko Sugimoto’s Talk on Epigenetic Control of Plant Cell Reprogramming

keiko-sugimotoTeam Leader of the Cell Function Research Team at the Center for Sustainable Resource Science, in Yokohama, Keiko has been working the question of ‘size’ in biological systems.

Using genetic dissection and chemical genetic screening, her team has been attempting to decode the mechanism that determine the size of plant organs and cells.

Having a Drink at the Coconut Barawaji-2

Of course, at some point our tired Researchers are going to need to put their feet up and relax. Thankfully, for them, Awaji Island also doubles as a Resort – filled with stunning beaches as well as restaurants and bars. The Coconut Bar is the Conference Centre’s dedicated drinking hole, classy yet quintessentially Japanese.

awaji-3Enjoying Tadao Ando’s Architecture

The Conference Centre, the Gardens, as well as the passages throughout the complex, are all an absolute architectural treat – the subject of entire books. Although the building is getting to be over 20 years old, the sharp concrete lines coupled with the smooth exterior courtyards will still be a joy to roam around.

Wandering Through The Miracle Planet Museum of Plants


Filled with literally thousands of different species of plants, we can’t wait to take a walk through the 6 exhibits (each divided into their own biomes, with different types of plant growing in each). It’ll be a little chilly there come the end of the month, so we might just have to skip out on the outdoor areas!

Steve and Joan are going to have a lot of reading to get done, on top of their usual work load, in order to be prepared for the Conference – hopefully they’ll be able to squeeze everything in!

6 Botanical Gardens That Will Inspire You

These Botanical Gardens will show you that Mother Nature’s Garden is one that is bursting with variety…

A great Botanical Garden is bursting with life and variety, beautifully landscaped and clearly signed – so that you can easily decipher what plant is what. Visiting one is like stepping into a veritable Garden of Eden – utilising a mixture of glasshouses as well as the local environment to their advantages – professional gardeners transform acres of plain grounds into lush, verdant habitats that visitors can lose hours wandering around.

Here are the 6 Botanical Gardens that you must check out in your lifetime:

Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Kandy – Sri Lanka


Situated just a short drive away from the cultural centre of Kandy, the sizeable grounds of Sri Lanka’s Royal Botanic Gardens have been impressing visitors for decades. A huge variety of plants, endemic to the small island, are scattered throughout the easily traversable park (although there are powered scooters available to hire, for those not willing to spend hours on their feet). In addition to the stunning Orchid Garden and giant species of trees, there are also small troops of monkeys that patrol the grounds – providing ad hoc entertainment for the wandering tourists.

National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire – Wales


You won’t need to rely on good weather to enjoy Wales’ only Botanical Garden, as it’s home to the largest greenhouse in the world. The Great Glasshouse, designed by award-winning architects Foster and Partners, utilises biomass fuels to maintain a mild temperature that sustains life for the dozens of species of equatorial plants and flowers. Beyond the huge glass structure, there’s acres of wonderfully landscaped gardens to explore that can be viewed from a distance at the nearby 17th Century Mansion that lies on the estate – a must-see if you’re visiting Wales.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London – England


No trip to the Capital is complete without a day spent in the tranquil grounds of Kew Gardens. Run by a governing body of highly respected scientists that employs 750 people to continually research the plant life there, the Gardens make for a perfect day out for any visitors to London looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Work began on the Gardens back in 1759, as such there are a wealth of Grade I and Grade II listed buildings to compliment the massive variety of tropical, sub-tropical and English plants – all meticulously cared for by the RHS gardeners there.

Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois – USA


Covering a massive 385 acres of land, Chicago Botanic Garden classes itself as a ‘living plant museum’ that is situated on 9 of the stunning islands in the Cook County Forest Preserves. Entrance is absolutely free, although you will have to pay $25 to park your car there – but it’s well worth it. A generous 25 display gardens are scattered across the huge open spaces, providing visitors with days of endless exploring where you can discover just some of the 2.5 million different plants on display there. On top of the plant life, there are research and science centres providing some variety and context to the relatively untamed wilderness.

Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden, Hawaii – USA


If you’re visiting Hawaii then, chances are, you’re already surrounded by a tropical paradise – however if you’re looking for an even higher concentration of beauty then why not check out one of the youngest Botanical Gardens on this list. Opened to the public in 1984, what these grounds lack for in heritage, they more than make up for in beauty and accessibility. Winding pathways weave in and out of the thick tropical foliage, providing shade from what can be exhausting heat. Some of the fruit trees there have been growing for over a 100 years, so even though the garden may feel modern, the plants are anything but.

Giardino dell’Iris, Florence – Italy

Although Italy is rammed full of garden spaces, there are none more picturesque and timeless than Florence’s Giardino dell’Iris. A horticultural landmark of Italy’s prettiest city since the 13th Century, on a quiet day it can feel like stepping back in time. Specialising in the growth of iris flowers, it’s only open for 3 weeks or so every year in May – if you manage to make it there in time you won’t have to pay for entry and you’ll find the relaxing ambience of the garden a refreshing reprieve from the sometimes hectic city centre. Expect to be surrounded by flowers, with very little context – it’s the Italian way!…