Philip Simpson was raised on a farm and plant nursery in Takaka, where his love of New Zealand's native plants first took root. He studied plant anatomy at Canterbury and in 1968 was awarded a Regent's Fellowship at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he wrote a PhD on the Joshua Tree. He has worked for DOC and is a founding member of Project Crimson. With his wife Wendy he runs a consultancy for ecological services and wine growing. His first book, the best-selling Dancing Leaves: The Story of New Zealand's Cabbage Tree - T? Kouka, won the Environment section of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2001.