3500 photographs. Over 380 genera. More than 3700 species and cultivars.
Dirr''s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs is the most comprehensive visual reference to more than 3700 species and cultivars. From majestic evergreens to delicate vines and flowering shrubs, Dirr features thousands of plants and all the essential details for identification, planting, and care. Color photographs show each tree''s habit in winter, distinctive bark patterns, fall color, and more. Dirr''s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs is a critical addition to any garden library.
*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
“Smart, opinionated, comprehensive, wonderful.” —Margaret Roach,
Michael A. Dirr, professor emeritus, horticulture, University of Georgia, is widely acknowledged as one of the leading experts on trees and shrubs for landscapes and gardens. He holds BS and MS degrees in horticulture from The Ohio State University and the Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts. Dirr has introduced over 200 woody plants to cultivation and holds 29 patents with the UGA Research Foundation. With two partners, he established Plant Introductions, Inc., a breeding and introduction company in 2006, selling it to Bailey Nurseries in 2015. Dirr continues to work in lockstep with the American nursery industry to introduce and promote new trees and shrubs.
Timber Press and I have developed a symbiotic relationship in our quest/journey to produce worthy books that gardeners would embrace and enjoy.
Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs (1997),
Dirr’s Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates (2002),
Hydrangeas for American Gardens (2004), and
Viburnums (2006) have found niches in the garden and nursery circles. This encyclopedia builds on the foundations of the
Warm Climate books, with more than 3,500 photographs of species and cultivars in 380 genera, with an emphasis on the best new introductions of the past ten to 15 years.
The garden and nursery worlds have changed dramatically in that time. Independent garden centers have waned, while Home Depot, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, and other mega-chains command greater percentages of green good sales. Be advised that the mass merchandisers are actively pursuing new plants to entice customers. Reflecting these advances are the increases in plant patents, which allow the owner to control the licensing of the product. In 1996 (66 years after the Plant Patent Act was instituted), approximately 10,000 plant patents were granted; in 2010, the number was over 21,000. This increase reflects the desire of breeders and introducers to protect their intellectual property. Also, many plants are not patented, but introduced for the greater good. The new plant tsunami literally swamps horticulturists’ and gardeners’ will and ability to stay current.
The rush to market is based on competition among breeders and introducers who have similar plants. The financial advantage is often weighted toward the first mover. Testing and trialing for many woody plants are minimal, and marketing supersedes the reality of performance. In this tome, I provide the best assessment possible based on testing data, research reports, performance in nurseries and gardens, and evaluations at our breeding company in Watkinsville, Georgia, Plant Introductions, Inc. (www.plantintroductions.com).
Take variegated leaf cultivars of
grandiflora, now numbering about 17. Many are unstable, producing green, albino, and other shoot permutations not typical of the original cultivars. I have bred, evaluated, tested, trialed, selected, grown, and introduced abelias, and ‘Hopleys’ (‘Aghop’), rebranded Twist of Lime™, has been one of the most stable, consistently true to type. Does this mean that someone else could have a different experience? Absolutely!
Hydrangea paniculata cultivar trials at the Royal Horticultural Society (www.rhs.org.uk) with my Georgia evaluations reflects dichotomies of results. For example,
RHS Trials Bulletin 23 (December 2008) evaluated more than half of the more than 80 known cultivars. Best (three stars) were ‘Big Ben’ (lousy in Georgia), ‘Dolly’ (lousy in Georgia), ‘Kyushu’ (lousy in Georgia), Limelight™ (very good in Georgia), Pinky Winky™ (poor in Georgia), and so forth. The take-home lesson: biology is shades of gray, and dogmatic acceptance of anyone’s results is foolish. Use these data as guides to the superior introductions.
“Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.” This Alfred Austin quote captures Bonnie’s and my love of garden-making. As an introduction to the
Warm Climate book, I textually and photographically walked the reader through our then 23-year-old garden, and many readers commented positively about “seeing” it.
Unfortunately, the home and garden in the 2002 book are no more, as we sold and moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for medical reasons, to care for our youngest daughter, Suzanne. After existing in an apartment for six months (no garden), we decided to purchase a home, develop a garden, and live a normal life. The landscape (initially with bargain-basement butterflybushes, abelias, and Indian hawthorns—all eliminated) was transformed into a garden with color, fragrance, diversity, and seasonality. In part, it was also a test site for many new plants from our breeding program and those of colleagues.
The neighbors noticed, commented, queried about the roses (Knock Out®), dwarf crapemyrtles (Razzle Dazzle® series), and lantanas (Chapel Hill series), and others. With delight, I watched Knock Out® move around the cul-de-sac and throughout the neighborhood.
This garden was spiritually and psychologically essential to Bonnie’s, my, and Susy’s well-being. Susy, who carried the gene for cystic fibrosis, was blessed to have two double-lung transplants at UNC-CH and live a rich, full, vibrant, and meaningful life. We lost our beloved Susy to chronic rejection in January 2008.
Books are written on dealing with grief, but Bonnie and I find inner peace with each other and in the garden. Bonnie stated it best—there is joy in nurturing and loving living things to their greatest genetic potential. We sold our place in Chapel Hill and returned to Athens, where in 2009 we purchased a new home on an acre and started the garden journey anew. Realizing that planting space was being rapidly consumed, we purchased the contiguous lot as well. It was choked with Chinese privet (
Ligustrum sinense), kudzu (
Pueraria montana var. lobata), and muscadine (
Vitis rotundifolia), all quickly cleared; a specimen white oak (
Quercus alba), a 50-ft.-high, four-trunked black tupelo (
Nyssa sylvatica), and flowering dogwood (
Cornus florida) were preserved. We are enjoying pencil farming this and the home site, dreaming about what may metamorphosize.
In autumn 2010, we planted a sinuous shrub border that effectively screens the new lot from the street. Neighbors commented and asked about the identity of the plants. I mentioned that 14 different viburnums were utilized. They were mystified for, in the South, “viburnum” simply does not resonate. Hopefully, they will enjoy and learn as the border matures.
Plant Introductions, Inc., continues to develop. My two partners are Jeff Beasley of Transplant Nursery in Lavonia, Georgia, and Mark Griffith, Griffith Propagation Nursery, also in Watkinsville. Together we bring a total of 80 years’ experience to the venture—breeding, evaluating, propagating, producing, and marketing new woody (and a few herbaceous) garden plants. Most new introductions are presented in this work. We started with a dream, planned and strategized, leased/purchased a dilapidated pig (yes) farm, cleaned (spit-polished), built growing and greenhouse facilities, and four years later have 40 plants in various stages of evaluation. Our breeder, Josh Kardos, Ph.D., a University of Georgia horticulture graduate, is the epicenter of the company.
As you, the reader, peruse the book, please take special note of genera emphasized in PII’s breeding:
Viburnum. The ultimate goal is to breed superior ornamental plants that perform as promised (Promised Performance™) for growers, retailers, and gardeners.
May the book provide inspiration and education, and guide you to the best of the new (and perpetually reliable) woody garden plants.
Michael A. Dirr, Ph.D.