Orchid daze

From my Chinese brush-painting classes I learned that “orchid” – which is one of the first four plants we were taught to paint – signifies spring among the “four gentlemen”.

Artwork: Sandra Simpson

The popular Cymbidiums (I assume we were taught to paint a species type) start coming into bloom here in late winter and, thanks to the variety of plants and hybrid breeding, can produce an ongoing display into summer. We have such a fortunate climate here that we can grow our Cymbidiums outside, in pots or in the ground as they are one of the few terrestrial orchids. A tip I heard from a good grower the other day was to fill the planting hole with bark so good drainage is guaranteed.

The orchid family is the largest plant family in the world – and more are being discovered in the wild all the time. If you so wish you could have some type of orchid in flower for each season – I’ve had Laelia gouldiana (native to the highlands of Mexico), for example, out this winter – while some of them, like my two little Restrepias, flower on and off all year.

The effect of seeing an orchid in flower can be tremendous.

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Laelia gouldiana. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Haiyan debris –
a search team spots
an orchid

– Alegria Imperial, A Hundred Gourds 3.2 (2014)

Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in 2013, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded.

rain chill
the orchids’ uplifted

– Nathalie Buckland, paper wasp 18.1 (2012)


A Cymbidium blooming among the rocks at Te Puna Quarry Park. Photo: Sandra Simpson

morning prayer …
an orchid absorbs
the sound of bees

– Hansha Teki, Multiverses 1.1

transit of venus –
looking straight
into the orchid’s eye

– Sandra Simpson, A Hundred Gourds, 1.4 (2012)

Phalelegant'PolkaDots'3 - Copy

A Phalaenopsis, or moth, orchid. Photo: Sandra Simpson

earthquake season –
the moth orchid
begins to flutter

– Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest VI: 9


Haiku Calendar praise

Lovely comments from Alan Summers (and his wife Karen Hoy) after receiving a copy of my new calendar.



“It blew me away and mightily impressed my wife, a poet, and haiku writer, and writer for television, so she doesn’t impress easily.

“Very impressive, which I knew already, but still delightfully even more impressed.  High production values, incredible photographs, and fine haiku.

“Honestly, don’t delay, as I don’t know how many copies Sandra has left.  I love mine!   It’s going on the wall as soon as it’s 2015, but will be read many times through the rest of 2014 for pleasure alone.”

Yes, says Sandra, don’t delay! Love to hear from you if you’d like to know more. If you click on the link above, it takes you to an older posting that includes another image and prices.


Spring has brought a number of publications to my letterbox and inbox …

A Hundred Gourds features a loving tribute to Martin Lucas by Matthew Paul, and two of my haiku.

summer solstice –
the flock passes into darkness
one by one

– Sandra Simpson, A Hundred Gourds 3:4

The Heron’s Nest also features two of my haiku, which means I’m in reasonably select company as few have been accorded that honour this time. I’m humbled, as always, to have anything accepted anywhere so to get two each into these fine journals is exciting.

pioneer cemetery –
here and there a name
faces heavenward

– Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest XVI.3

Two of my haiku are to appear in the New Zealand Poetry Society anthology (editor Nola Borrell, launched in November), and Kokako 21 includes four of my haiku.

another lotto loss –
the sparkle of my mother’s
costume jewellery

– Sandra Simpson, Kokako 21

The latest paper wasp arrived by post from Australia today, the penultimate issue of the 20th anniversary series, this one dedicated to senryu and edited by Jacqui Murray, Vuong Pham and Katherine Samuelowicz. Individual issues are $A6 each. (I would link to the website but it appears out of date.)

The editors have shoe-horned the senryu into the 20 pages, no doubt about that. To be fair I should point out that production values are one of my (many) hobby-horses. I’m not sure how successful all the senryu are or why one by Vuong Pham is in twice (not the only proof-reading error). The journal is published four times a year … but is only 16 or 20 pages so I find the proof-reading and layout issues surprising.

I have on my shelf a copy of paper wasp from spring 1996, edited by Janice Bostok and Jacqui Murray which is 16 pages with, generally, five or six poems per page, compared to, generally, 13 or 15 per page for spring 2014.

Okay, that all sounds a bit negative and I’m sorry for that. Every person who edits a haiku journal should receive an award – Knight Companion of the Order of Basho, or somesuch. But, on the other hand, readers of haiku, tanka and haibun journals should be able to expect a minimum standard, evidence of some care.