MAKE ROOM ON THE SHELF—a big, fat space in a prominent spot, since you’ll be reaching for it a lot—and also in your garden. With Mike Dirr’s massive new “Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs,” all 3,500 photographs and 3,700 species and cultivars of it, the man we’ve relied on for decades to tell us what’s what in woody plants outdoes even himself. By the time I’d gotten through the “A’s,” I had a list so long of new must-have’s (Abies and Acer, especially–oh, those firs and maples!) that I’d have to rate this book as not just “smart, opinionated, comprehensive, wonderful,” which is what it says in my blurb on the back cover, but “dangerous,” too. So like I said, make room–maybe for the copy that I bought to share with a lucky one of you?
The new book came at just the right time for me on two fronts. I manhandled a 1983 edition of Dirr’s thorough-but-not-illustrated “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants” from then until it fell apart, when I replaced it with a 1998 edition, which now is looking far worse for wear, too. There is hardly a workday in all those years when I have not gone to see “what Dirr says” about a tree or shrub I’m growing, thinking of buying, or writing about: How big will it get? Where is it native to? What conditions must I offer it? All of that is covered in “Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs,” but the chance to see shots of the plant–details and often full-grown versions as well–makes all the difference.
And then there is the other fact that made the publication date so right: the recent October snowstorm manhandled me–or at least the garden–making spaces for some newcomers. I’ll spend the winter deciding just who, with Dirr’s help.
Upcoming Dirr Lectures
Michael A. Dirr was a professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia since 1972 until his recent retirement, and now lectures and teaches widely. I was happy to learn I will have two chances to hear him speak in the coming months: At Brooklyn Botanic Garden January 31 (information here) and at Berkshire Botanical Garden in Massachusetts–not far from my home–on February 18 (information here). I failed to find a full calendar of his travels online anywhere, but I see he’ll also be presenting in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on December 2 (details).
How to Enter to Win the Book
What woody plant—whether an individual species or variety, or a whole genus like Malus or Pinus or even a group of plants, like blue-needled conifers—would you say is your most-loved? I have confessed many times that the genus Viburnum is a favorite here, but lately I find myself veering into conifers, especially firs. Hmmm…which will it be for you?
If you’re feeling shy, just comment by saying “Count me in,” or “I want to win” and your entry will be considered in the random drawing I’ll do after midnight on Tuesday, November 15. Good luck to all!
Can’t wait for your own copy?