Who I am

From 2008 to 2014 I wrote a weekly garden article for the Bay of Plenty Times and was constantly amazed at the great people we have in the Tauranga-Western Bay of Plenty area, doing great things. It always seemed a shame that the whole world didn’t know more about them and that I never had the space to really dig into some of the subjects and knowledge on offer. So, here were are.

I hope this blog will be a place for the exchange of information and to enhance the sense of community that already exists out there in gardenland.

My contract to supply garden articles to the BOP Times came to an abrupt end at the end of April, 2014 – which made me more pleased than ever that I started this blog.

A bit about me … I’m not a gardener who became a writer, but rather a journalist who has always had more than a passing interest in gardens, if not necessarily gardening.

I was brought up in a large garden that had been laid out in about 1926 and included some “garden rooms”. There were also sweeping lawns, a wild area and lovely specimen trees … that is, until 2010 when the sheltering macrocarpas across the front of the property were removed as their age and size began to be a worry for the motorists passing beside them on SH1. A few months later a vicious storm hit and the elderly exotic trees that had been sheltered by those macrocarpas tumbled like dominoes. No one was hurt and no buildings were damaged, but, still it was heartbreaking.

But that’s gardening, isn’t it? Things grow, things die, nothing stands still.

I garden on a suburban section in central Tauranga. Two years ago I gave up half of the front lawn (not a large area) to my husband to plant in vegetables, to add to the raised beds he had made at the back of the house. Now, we’re eyeing up the back lawn … after all, all we do is mow it …

Many plants in my garden have been given to me and there are the graves of many bought ones that have been forgotten. When we moved in 30 years ago there was little in the garden, although plenty of oxalis. Slowly, that has changed but sometimes it has been one step forward and two steps back.

From 2001 20 2021 I worked for the Tauranga Arts Festival and Escape festival, latterly as the Literary Programme manager and from 2015 also as publicist; I’m the editor of Haiku NewZ website; the South Pacific/Africa editor for the annual Red Moon Haiku anthology (published in the US) and in late 2011 published a collection of my haiku, breath. In 2010 and 2012 I managed a speaker/workshop series for the biennial Tauranga Garden and Artfest (but have not been involved since). I worked as a sub-editor for the Bay of Plenty Times and latterly APN’s community sub-hub in Tauranga for about 22 years in total (I finished up in March 2015), and have been a freelance writer in Tauranga for about that long as well. I’m a regular contributor to NZ Gardener magazine.

In 2012 I was invited to become a member of the Funding Trust that is working with the Advisory Group to establish the Sydenham Botanic Park in Tauranga, stepping down in 2014; and have been secretary of the Katikati Haiku Pathway committee since that group reformed in 2006.

In 2015 I took up badminton for exercise and fun! I love hearing from my readers – either sign in and leave a reply on a post, or email me.

All words and photos copyright Sandra Simpson

20 thoughts on “Who I am

  1. Hello Jean, nice to see you here. Yes, it was all a bit hard to take in on my first visit after the storm. The big Norfolk Island pine near the house thankfully stood its ground. My mum has spent several years developing a garden on one side of the drive – one big shelter tree came down in that bad storm … and a few months later another. Once she got over being cross about it, she saw it as an opportunity!

    • Hello Christine – you’ve pinpointed one of my prime motivators in doing this. All the events and the people who organise them are deserving of support. Thanks for calling by.

  2. I wish we had somebody like you helping promote gardens, growers, events and special groups in Hawke’s Bay. Maybe you will join in some of the activities for Roses Down Under and then come to my garden.

  3. Hello Georgina,
    I’d love to visit your garden – met Sam McGredy at the end of last year and your McGredy project came up in conversation! It’s a neat thing to do and amazing that no one has thought of it before so well done you.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    • Hi Vicki, Palmers tell me that they are widely available so if they’re not in stock at your local branch (of that garden centre or any other), you should be able to order them.

  4. Hi Sandra-

    Saw in an old post of yours from 2012 that you mentioned Crambe maritima (seakale), which I’ve been looking for. Any idea of where I might aquire some? I haven’t had any luck, lots of people mentioning it, no information as to where to get some. Thanks!


  5. Keep an eye on Trade Me because both seed and plants of Crambe Maritima are sometimes listed, Georgina

  6. Hi Sandra. I wrote a comment about The Elms gardens a few days ago. Would love a reply from you. Have added my Email to your follower’s site.

    • Hello Francine, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I will copy your comment over to the relevant entry too. I was thrilled to finally be in the right place at the right time to see one of your famous shows!

      All the best,

  7. Love your blog. Just back from visiting the wonderful gardens at Pukeiti Park and was interested in thier development of a future area for thier vireyas and was searching info on these lovely Rhodo’s.

  8. Hi Sandra, I just fell over your website today and notice that you have Landsendt listed as having a nursery. I think you should make a quick call to them to see if that is still the case. It is my strong understanding that they have closed it down but their gardens are still open for visits and functions.

  9. Hi Sandra, I was interested to see a full grown Pawpaw tree in your column.
    i have been growing a Mountain pawpaw here is Pyes Pa for two years and have first crop this summer.

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