Botanist Peter Johnson ascribes his writing origins to growing up in a house full of books and music, with literary parents. My first book, at the age of six, was a holiday diary, dictated to my mother. I took the photos, stuck them in later, and wrote the captions. If only writing, and life, had remained so straightforward!
I always had a garden, a camera, and the nearby bush of the Dunedin Town Belt to grow up in. I was fortunate that we went on holidays to great places.
Peter has enjoyed crafting words together, taking photos, and picking flowers ever since. He sees his roles as partly scientist, naturalist, and teacher, but mainly botanical explorer.
And I guess a Ph.D in botany also gives me some claim to being part-philosopher. A graduate of Otago University, Peter works in his home town, Dunedin, as a botanist and plant ecologist with Landcare Research. His current research interests are in wetlands, vegetation processes, plant systematics, weed ecology, lichens as indicators of air pollution, and rare plants. In 1994 he was awarded the Loder Cup, New Zealand's premier conservation award.
He is the author of Wildflowers of Central Otago, Wetland Plants in New Zealand, co-author of Flowering Plants of New Zealand, and was principal photographer for the book Moa's Ark which accompanied the David Bellamy television series.
In addition to being the author of numerous scientific papers and reports, he is a regular presenter of illustrated lectures, and has been botanical adviser for many films made by the TVNZ Natural History Unit.
Peter Johnson lives at Broad Bay on Otago Peninsula. He and his partner Pru spend most weekends enjoying their large garden or exploring the local hills and hinterland. Peter also enjoys skiing and fishing with his sons around Central Otago, climbing, flying, making things out of wood, reading poetry and writing haiku.
In Pick of the Bunch: New Zealand Wildflowers, he mixes his passion for plants with humorous anecdotes about people and places, and wry comments upon life. Pick of the Bunch was the winner of the 1998 Montana New Zealand Book Award: Environment & Heritage category, and was reprinted by Longacre Press in 2004.