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Dirr's Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs Hardcover – October 18, 2011
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*Starred Review* With beautiful, artistic photographs and succinct text, this volume is nearly as attractive as one of the gorgeous blossoming shrubs discussed within. Dirr has added another well-written and slickly produced book to his volumes on plants used in ornamental horticulture. This volume is filled with information for the gardener, landscape architect, and all those curious about the trees and shrubs they may encounter.The chatty descriptions incorporate information often limited to tables—disease resistance, size, shape, and zone hardiness as well as some history and taxonomy. These descriptions are accompanied by high-quality photographs. Reading the entries is educational as well as inspirational for readers. There are mentions of trends, such as the note that junipers are falling out of fashion but that potentillas are highly regarded in northern gardens. An appendix listing plants for specific needs and purposes is notable. Comments like “about the closest to red flowers but still not red” speak of Dirr’s passion for and delight in the trees and shrubs as well as his expertise. His personal experiences with particular species are forthrightly and sometime wryly noted: “They sit in the garden and look at me, never prospering.” With descriptions of 380 genera illustrated with 3,500 photographs, this is likely to become a standard reference for including trees and shrubs in gardens of all types. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries. --Linda Scarth
“Dirr has guided discerning gardeners for decades—he has made the American landscape a better place.” —The Washington Post
“Belongs on every serious gardener’s shelf. . . . This is a new, spruced-up edition of the bible of the industry, with a cleaner design, wipeable cover, newly introduced plants and changes in plant names. Just in time for a new generation of gardeners, Dirr’s encyclopedia is as charming as it is refined.” —The New York Times
“Dirr has added another well-written and slickly produced book to his volumes on plants used in ornamental horticulture. Educational as well as inspirational. . . . this is likely to become a standard reference for including trees and shrubs in gardens of all types.” —Booklist starred review
“Dirr has been growing and breeding plants for years and has experience with all the plants in this book. . . . There are 15 special topic listings—by flower color, flowering sequence, fall color, winter interest, salt or shade tolerance, moisture requirements, and plant form—which will help gardeners choose plants, as well as indexes of botanical and common names.” —Library Journal
“Michael Dirr’s hefty Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs belongs next to the American Horticultural Society’s A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants on your shelf of essential garden books. It is packed with information, features more than 3500 photographs for identification, and is written with wit and charm.” —MarthaStewart.com
“For any serious gardener, the expense of this book will be repaid many times over in the valuable advice and information it will impart, page by page and pound by pound.” —Country Gardens
“Dirr’s frank and often witty assessments make his works all the more special, unique, and fun to read.” —American Gardener
“Long regarded as the nation’s foremost expert on trees and shrubs, Dr. Dirr has published a new book that, like his previous Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, draws on his encyclopedic knowledge and years of personal experience with trees and shrubs. However, the new book, Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs, adds thousands of photos to the mix, too.” —Better Homes and Gardens
“Professor Michael A. Dirr is THE MAN when it comes to woody plants.” —Garden Rant
“Sure to be one of the basic books for a serious gardener. It’s a user-friendly, photo packed distillation of the knowledge and informed opinion that make Dirr’s text packed ‘Manual of Woody Landscape Plants’ scripture in the landscape profession.” —Chicago Tribune
“Meriting the terms classic, authoritative, gold-standard, this reference updates and combines in one binding two previously published books: Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs and Dirr’s Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates. Several thousand photos of excellent quality and consistency support graceful, well-informed text.” —Reference and Research Book News
“Whether you’re a landscape designer or architect or just a garden enthusiast, you can’t do without either of these (Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs and the Manual of Woody Landscape Plants) books. The new Dirr Encyclopedia is a sheer delight, and way too long in coming!” —Garden Design Online
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PROS: 1) Each entry includes information on size, shape, color, cultivation requirements, and appropriate zones, as well as Dirr's anecdotal information on his personal experiences with and sightings of the plants. The impact of pests and diseases is also noted.
2) Each entry is lavishly illustrated with photos of the mature plant, and close-ups of leaves, fruit, and flowers. Where appropriate entries also include photos of massed plantings and seasonal variations of significance.
3) Information on varieties and cultivars of each species extends the information on choices.
4) The appendices include lists of plants for various specific purposes, e.g., color, winter interest, bloom time, shade tolerance, etc.
CONS: The book is organized based on taxonomic names, some easier to "translate" than others. Magnolia = Magnolia (that's easy!) Pinus = Pine (not so hard!), but Picea = Spruce and Thuja = Arborvitae (well, that's a very different kettle of fish!)
I used the photos to navigate, stopping to read more about plants whose photos appealed, and am very satisfied with the results so far. Filling out the palette will take several years, and I expect to find Dirr's useful right through to the end.
In the back are lists of plants by interest: fall color, flower color, soil tolerances, etc. These are very useful to select and research potential new inhabitants in your own garden.
I highly recommend this book for anyone with a significant garden, or just an interest in trees and shrubs. I've spent hours pouring over it and learned a great deal about what is growing in my yard and in my neighborhood.
This man truly lives for what he writes about. Almost every plant in his encyclopedia is accompanied by some personal experience or observation by the Author. I am humbled by his knowledge and grateful that he has taken the time to share it with us.
This book is full of beautiful photography. The kind of book I will open up to a random page and forget what I originally came to find