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The Stories Behind the Books

Masdevallias. Gems of the Orchid World

Mary E. Gerritsen and Ron Parsons

October, 2005

The Story Behind The Book

The idea for this book came out of the convergence of two events-a lecture on Masdevallias by Ron Parsons to the Peninsula Orchid Society, and a short conversation between Ron and Mary Gerritsen which ended in "your photos are so beautiful they should be in a book!". Shortly after that the biotech company that Mary was employed by closed the site in South San Francisco, and she found herself with far too much time on her usually busy hands. Spending more time with her orchids resulted in further frustration with the dearth of information on Mary's favorite genus, Masdevallia. Frustration led to a concept, which amazingly, led to this book. The confluence of Mary's scientific background, Ron's encyclopedic knowledge, and of course, his incredible photographs was responsible for the result. Ron and Mary worked on the photos and text for almost two years-and finally the book was born! Furthermore, they had so much fun writing this book that they finished a second (Calochortus. Mariposa Lilies and Their Relatives) and are busily working on a third (Miniature Orchid Species).

Calochortus. Mariposa Lilies and Their Relatives

Mary E. Gerritsen & Ron Parsons

Now Available!

The Story Behind The Book

The idea for this book originated as a byproduct of Ron's over-crowded closet, where he keeps his binders of slides. One day, he "complained" that he had over 20 binders of slides of Calochortus, a genus of North American wildflowers that he had spent the last 20 summers and traveled many thousands of miles photographing (and what was he ever going to do with all those slides?). Fresh on the heels of completing the Masdevallia book, Ron suggested "why not write a comprehensive book on this beautiful genus". After viewing several thousand awe-inspiring photographs, Mary enthusiastically agreed to the project, as did Timber Press, and the rest is now history. Thousands of slides later, as well as many miles and often arduous adventures (a link to Mary's Picasa web site with lots of photos of our orchid, calochortus and other botanical expeditions to California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Australia, Mexico, Germany and France) to view the species in situ, endless searches through herbarium specimens and documentation, old newsletters, books and journals, and countless conversations, emails and other correspondence with many of the Calochortus experts near and far, and the second book was completed. We made four trips to Mexico to see as many of the Mexican species as possible in the field, and are planning a fifth to complete our quest. This is the first comprehensive monograph since Ownbey's landmark Ph.D. thesis published in 1940, and it is the only extensive treatment of the genus complete with color photographs of all the species and varieties. In addition, it provides horticultural information to aid the aspiring Calochortus gardener in cultivating species from this incredible genus of native North American wildflowers.

Ron Parsons

Ron's co-author, Mary Gerritsen

Searching for Calochortus hartwegii, Jalisco, Mexico

Habitat of Calochortus barbatus (on top of mesa), Jalisco, Mexico

Consulting with our colleagues, Molly Harker and Aaron Rodriguez, at the herbarium of the Instituto Botanico, Universidad de Guadalajara, September 2006

Ron photographing Calochortus fuscus, Jalisco, Mexico September, 2006