2/18/08

"Wildflowers and Plants of Central Mexico"

Ron Parsons spoke on that subject at tonight's CalHort meeting.

I actually thought I was going to hear a presentation titled "The History of Gardening in the United States".

Well, that's next month's meeting.

(Typical.)

From Parsons' website, http://www.flowershots.net:
Ron Parsons is considered by many to be one of the finest flower photographers in the United States. His photography and encyclopedic knowledge of orchids is known both nationally and internationally. He has been photographing orchids, wildflowers, and almost every other kind of plant for over 25 years, and has a slide collection that numbers well over 80,000 slides! Ron loves to travel, photograph orchids and wildflowers in situ, visit orchid and other plant enthusiasts collections, and most of all, to take photographs of plants and flowers that he likes.
He also co-authored the recent book Calochortus (discussed here) and showed us pictures of twelve Mexican species from the genus that he observed on his trip. I believe my favorite was the pendant C. balsensis whose blossom was over three inches wide when pressed on a herbarium sheet.

He does film photography, not digital. Pictures on his website are scans of original photographs. I'm not a photographer, but I was intrigued to learn about the ring flash he uses to produce black backgrounds for close-ups.

Parsons and his collaborator Mary Gerritsen spent the first two weeks of last September photographing the plants and flowers that made up this talk. They visited parks and natural areas in several Mexican states--Jalisco, Michaoacan, Estado de Mexico, Morelos, Guerrero (he thought Taxco was a great place to visit), Puebla, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Queretero, San Luis Potosi, and Guanajuato. This was the end of the rainy season in central Mexico and it sounded like you couldn't hurl a sombrero without hitting some beautiful flower, rare orchid, or unusual agave.

As much as I enjoyed seeing all the lovely pictures of unfamiliar Calochortus, Bletia, Habenaria, Pinguicula, and Tigridia flowers, my pulse really quickened for the drifts of dahlias, zinnias, and an unidentified Tagetes.

I've said before that the rare and exotic tends to wear me out rather quickly, but does that mean I'm destined for a future of marigolds?

8 comments:

Mary R said...

Wow. Had not heard of this book. I've been trying to grow Calochortus (the "easy" ones) for eons, having very little luck, and living in N. Cal, that's pretty pathetic. Last year, I finally got one to re-bloom. Then, if you consider that the native people actually used the bulbs as a food source, it's even more pathetic. Chuck b, you're a wonderful garden writer, even if you've only been gardening for a few years. You go, guy, and never mind the damn marigolds! And drop in next time you're in Guerneville.

Frances said...

Typical, just in tiny letters, for the visually challenged to not notice until the second reading! You get to attend the most wonderful talks and presentations, thanks for sharing them. I think of friends with a huge investment in film cameras and equipment, not to mention knowledge about how to use them. They are just a tiny bit annoyed at the ease of the digital camera and the dufuses (spelling?) who can take pretty good shots with them.

Frances at Faire Garden

JvA said...

Consider yourself lucky that you prefer plants that can be grown in your own area to exotic ones.

Funny how the things you notice change over the years. Ten years ago, I visited all 11 of those Mexican states you mention, and I don't remember any of the flowers there. (OK, never mind, I do remember a field of poppies in San Luis Potosi. But that's it.)

But if I were to do the same trip again, I'd hit all the botanical parks and take 10 billion photos of plants.

mmw said...

Crap, I wanted to go to that talk.

chuck b. said...

Oh, there was someone there I thought might have been you.

JVA, were you there at the end of the rainy season? Maybe there weren't any flowers. You've traveled to so many places.

Frances, my dad taught old fashioned photography for over 30 years. And then he moved right in to digital. Still, a long investment in a vanishing craft.

Mary, oh a trip to Guerneville would be great!

chuck b. said...

I forgot to mention I sat right behind Betsy Clebsch. Actually, I should say she sat in front of me. (I was there first.)

kate said...

This sounds like an interesting talk. Next month's will be great - I hope you attend and then write about it.

Somehow I don't think you'll ever turn into a Marigold gardener.

JvA said...

Yes, I was there the wrong time of year. I was there from January through July. Oh, to be poor enough to take that much time off again...

Here's the photo of the orange flowers in San Luis Potosi. Are they poppies?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/midbeaconhill/2280177411/sizes/o/