Sally wears a Helen Cherry jacket; photograph by Emma Bass; make-up by Kaitlin Chapman; hair by Michael Kent; Sandra Kaminsky photograph: Geoff Hedley
The flower arrangement on my desk is definitely of the low-maintenance variety. I picked up eight buttery-cream tulip blooms at the supermarket a couple of days ago and put them in a blue glass vase beside my computer. The flowers have opened and some of the stems are drooping artlessly over the edge of the vase. They are beautiful, but in a sloppy way that would have driven my grandmother mad.
When I was growing up, my grandmother Lorna would arrive at our door on Saturday morning with armfuls of blooms and greenery ready to "do the flowers". She laid out newspaper, fossicked for the right vase and spent an hour or more arranging, standing back at intervals, head tilted. She'd worked as a florist and sometimes she'd test me, to see if I had "an eye". "Where should the next one go?" she'd ask.
Lorna's arrangements were large, structured and much-admired by our visitors: spiked with gladioli, laced with gypsophila, dripping in ivy. In winter there were rusty golden dried confections or sculptural displays with bird of paradise flowers and folded flax. We never had fake flowers because Lorna couldn't abide them.
I have been thinking about Lorna and her flowers this week - the huge effort she put into them, the good feeling they brought to the house - because Sandra Kaminski has just launched a new book, Flowers at Home. Sandra is the queen of full-on flower arrangements. Her lavish and lovely concoctions, often including hundreds of fresh blooms, featured in NZ House & Garden's celebration issues for years.
Like any stylist with a strong look, Sandra divides opinion: some say her styling is just too much; others swoon. My grandmother, I know, would have loved Sandra's work and the sentiments in Sandra's book about the magical mood-elevating effect of fresh flowers. The day before her book launch I talked to Sandra on the phone and asked whether she would ever use fake flowers: "I can't," she said. "Fingers down a blackboard."
Sandra's book appears in the News section we're introducing to the magazine with this issue. These pages will be a NZ House & Garden pin-up board of colourful, interesting and slightly random snippets to get your juices flowing - places you might want to go, ideas to try, things you could make or gather.
The first issue, I think, we've pretty much cracked it (see what you think on page 38) but I know from experience that these sorts of pages require plenty of hard, ongoing work to keep them fresh and interesting. They are probably the hardest kind of magazine pages to do well.
But that's okay. As Sandra and Lorna remind us, sometimes the high-maintenance option is the only one that will do.