Sandra Simpson

About Sandra Simpson

Sandra Simpson is a long-time journalist who in 2008 was asked to write a weekly garden feature for her local daily newspaper in Tauranga, New Zealand. Since then she’s visited beautiful gardens, met great people and attended several shows. In 2012 she started her own blog, Sandra’s Garden to share more of the people, places and events that make her corner of the world so bountiful.

J Paul Getty Centre LA – central garden

When the painter and sculptor Robert Irwin was commissioned to create a garden at the $1.3 billion J Paul Getty Centre in Los Angeles he approached the project as another artwork. However, Irwin was the first to admit that he knew nothing about plants and Southern California nurseryman Jim Duggan joined the project, collecting plants from Irwin’s long lists, “plus anything else you think is interesting” and growing plants to trial their performance. Continue reading

Getty’s Roman villa and garden, LA

The ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, buried when Mt Vesuvius erupted in AD79, clearly made an impression on 19-year-old American J Paul Getty, soon to become an oil tycoon, when he visited Italy in 1912. Almost 60 years later he built a museum at Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles to display his collection of antiquities – a replica Roman villa, right down to the gardens. Continue reading

Rose hip remedies

Hands up who remembers keeping the winter chills and ills at bay with rosehip syrup? Memories of a spoonful stirred into a glass of hot water, producing a beautiful rosy-coloured drink, is as much a part of my childhood winters as open fires and flannel vests. Continue reading

Spiny Spaniards in New Zealand

New Zealand is full of plants that have evolved in odd ways thanks to our long history of having a predominantly avian nature rather than one ruled by mammals. Let me introduce you to a member of the carrot family commonly known as Spaniard or speargrass, botanical name Aciphylla. Almost all of the 40 species are found only in the South Island and then generally in tussock and upland country. Continue reading

Keeping bees

Mike Crosby was busy planting his suburban Tauranga garden with as many fruit trees as he could fit in when he noticed something was missing – bees. A bit of internet research later and Mike had plans for a topbar hive, a DIY hive that lets bees build their comb beneath a wooden bar, thought to mimic nature more closely than a box-style hive. He now has two topbar hives and a three-box Langstroth hive – the latter contains 20,000 to 30,000 bees, while the topbar hives hold fewer. (More information about topbar hives available here) Continue reading

Baboon’s Bottom? Or Drunk Skunk?

The topic of naming new plants for commercial release is always an interesting aside when I talk to people involved with breeding and hybridising – how do they choose a name for their plant? Is it straight from the heart or a more businesslike proposition? Continue reading

Bumblebee petunia & plant genetics

Petunia Bumblee has proved popular with Kiwi gardeners – a black flower that has a yellow stripe on each petal – that although it has novelty value is an attractive plants in its own right. However, gardeners and garden centres have been disappointed and frustrated by flowers reverting to all black or being only partially striped. Zealandia Horticulture in Christchurch is the New Zealand agent for the plant and the company’s national sales co-ordinator, Aaron Blackmore, admits there has been a problem with “reversion”. Continue reading