Mary Gerritsen

Mary Gerritsen

I have been an avid gardener for years, growing a variety of plants, first in my garden in Ridgefield Connecticut, and then 10 years ago, a totally new spectrum of plants in my garden in San Mateo California. Upon my arrival in California, I renewed my interest in Orchids, which I had grown enthusiastically as a post-doctoral fellow during my years at the University of California, San Diego, nearly 20 years previously. My new hobby grew into an obsession, and soon I was growing more orchids than anything else. I grow them in a greenhouse, and outdoors in three lathe structures, as well as here and there in my yard, all over my house and even my office at work. A not-too-brief period of unemployment due to the closure of the biotech company that I worked for started me in my new "hobby career", writing books. My first book dealt with a genus of orchids that was one of my favorites, Masdevallias. This book came about as a confluence of events, the most important of which was a lecture at our local orchid society by Ron Parsons, a renowned orchid (and plants in general) expert and photographer. I was so impressed with his photographs that I exclaimed, your photos should be in a book! And months later they were, as we completed Masdevallias, Gems of the Orchid World (Timber Press). It was a true learning adventure for both of us, but it also resulted in a second project, probably of more interest to the PBS group. Ron had been taking photographs of Calochortus (and other bulbs) for more than 20 years, and with his incredible collection of photographs, we embarked on our second great adventure-writing the first, layman's level monograph on this genus featuring color photographs of nearly all of the species (at least one is now extinct, and another may never have been a distinct species, so we missed those). I had a crash course in Calochortus, and for the last two years, spent almost every weekend (from early March to mid-September), as well as several more extended trips to Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Central Mexico, trying to see as many of the Calochortus species in their native habitats as possible. I still have a few more to see (the Southern California ones mostly, which have been "dormant" for the last few years due to very low rainfall). I am also mastering the art of digital photography with my D70 Nikon camera (hoping to upgrade to one of the newer models soon), and due to the ease of uploading digital files (versus scanning in slides), most of the photos I have uploaded to the PBS wiki at present are mine. I will also upload some of Ron Parson's photos to the pbs wiki, to try to complete the pbs wiki on this genus. My co-author, Ron Parsons, is a well known orchid and flower photographer with many of his photos published in books and journals.

Ron Parsons

Ron has a beautiful collection of cool-growing orchids, as well as succulents, cacti and carnivorous plants at his home in South San Francisco, as well as at his parent's home in Burlingame. His roommate grows an amazing variety of plants, including many bulbs (and Calochortus).

When I am not talking to my plants or writing about them, I am working in the biotech field at a small biotech company involved in discovering new drugs to treat various kinds of cancer.

I invite you to visit my Flickr website featuring photos of Calochortus.

as well as Ron Parson's Flowershots website that features photos of Calochortus, wildflowers, orchids and various other flowering plant families

Our books to date are: Gerritsen, ME and Parsons, R. Masdevallias, Gems of the Orchid World (Timber Press) 2005 and Gerritsen, ME and Parsons, R. Calochortus, Mariposa Lilies and their Relatives (Timber Press) 2007

Contact Information:
Mary Gerritsen: meg570 at
Ron Parsons: flowershots at

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