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giveaway: dirr’s dangerous new woody-plant bible

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

TO QUALIFY TO WIN the copy of this $79.95 masterpiece that I purchased for the giveaway, all you have to do is comment below, answering this simple question:

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?

  • You can preview the 952-page book at the website of Timber Press, the publisher.
  • Buy the book now on Amazon. (Disclaimer: If you, do, I get a small commission that I put toward books for future giveaways.)
Categoriestrees & shrubs
  1. Mike Lee says:

    Malus ~ flowering crabapple offers multi seaon interest food for wild life and human life, is adaptable from zone 2 nearly to zone 8, can tolerate high mountain desert climate as well as the muggy Atlantic seaboard.

  2. It is hard to choose. Confers remain my all-time favorite. We raise Douglas fir, but I have a special fondness for things like blue spruce and incense cedar. I’ve always loved Ponderosa Pine as well, with the long needles and beautiful cones. And redwood…

  3. Michael says:

    Love the Hamamelis – and I have a special affinity for the wild species which I wouldn’t necessarily want in my “garden” but I adore in their rather spindly wonder along the roads through the mountains at our cabin…as appreciated during walks with dogs in the fall.

  4. chris says:

    oh! so hard to pick just one, but after careful consideration, I would have to say my favorite for the time being would be Limelight Hydrangea! I need this book, my old one is worn out and dirty, imagine that!!!

  5. Rudie says:

    Almost impossible to narrow it down to one, even a top 5 would be difficult. But at the moment, I’m particularly enjoying Nandina domestica. The multi-colored foliage as the seasons change (especially the bronzy-red new growth) complements the red berries. The woody canes provide sculptural interest.

  6. Mary-Ellen says:

    I just love trees!!! But I must say I so admire my peach tree–she is a real warrior having survived two really bad hail and wind storms here in Neb. She’s lost a couple of limbs and looks all lopsided with her hail pocket bark but every Spring she happily blooms and produces some of the sweetest peaches I have ever tasted

  7. Margaret says:

    ENTRIES ARE NOW CLOSED, and I will select the winner at random, and notify him or her via email today,

    Thank you all for your entries — what a list of great woody plants.

  8. Karen Knight says:

    Hello – did I miss seeing the winner of the Dirr book posted? it was a very generous giveaway and looks to have been very well received by your readers!! Thank you.
    Karen

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Karen. I did put up a “comments are closed” notice, and emailed the winner. I usually don’t tell the name but I suppose I should: the winner was Maggie Mehaffey.

  9. Karen Knight says:

    Oh, sorry Margaret – now I see your post – I did not obviously check under the comments! Sorry to cause you extra work – love your blog – thank you for it! Karen

  10. Karla says:

    Must I chose just one? Sadly I’ll choose a genus with many non-natives among them, magnolias. But we are losing magnolias at an alrming rate in their natives habitats–and even in my yard,where they are not native, they are so lovely and brighten my springtime. I can’t imagine spring without them. I just wish they did more for the wildlife.

  11. Debra Smrchek says:

    Without a pause I would have to say the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). Its beautiful leaves and seedpods are great for eveyday floral arrangements and especially for holiday decorating.

  12. Linda Jowers says:

    Hard to choose between a ginko or dogwoods. Have never had a ginko, but our last house had multiple dogwoods & I miss them in our smaller yard.

  13. Willows! What else? I’ve started collecting alpine/arctic species, purely for my own pleasure (for now!). I was just given a collection of Newfoundland Salix. Wow! Can’t wait to go there to see them in the wild. Perhaps next year to the Trompso Botanical Garden in Norway. It’s above the Arctic Circle and the most northernly BG in the world and full of all manner of wonderful plants and a location to die for! (how’s that for a run-on sentence–sorry, I do get carried away!)

  14. Japanese Maples – the perfect tree. Not so big as to threaten your house, but big enough to provide shade; beautiful in all four seasons, no matter what the cultivar. Gorgeous shape, gorgeous leaves, practically pest free and very hardy. A tree for every situation…big yard, small yard, line a lane…perfect perfect perfect,. Hope I win, that book , makes ,me, drool to read about it.

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