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Reviews of Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia

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Book Profile
Green Star: Good! Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia is a Bookworm 20 book. Green Star: Good!

Author (1): Michael A. Dirr

Hardcopy edition:
Publish date: October 1997
Published by: Timber Press
List price: $69.95
ISBN Number: 0881924040



  Garden Bookworm editor's notes:  
This bestselling encyclopedia, illustrated with brilliant photographs, describes the best woody plants adapted to cooler climates, showing both habit and details of more than 500 species, and including some 700 additional cultivars and varieties. Brief cultural information is supplied for each plant, as well as Dirr's perceptive comments and opinions.

  Feedback History and Summary  
18 positives
No neutrals
No negatives


Positive pollyk On Oct 1, 2009, pollyk wrote:

Detailed and helpful information along with a strong dose of opinion. And Dr. Dirr's opinion is highly valued, and therefor appreciated.

Positive Joan On Aug 2, 2008, Joan wrote:

I put off buying this book for a long while, but finally broke down and ordered it. I am so glad I did. I've referred to it several times a week since. The book is very informative as well as beautiful. Every page is full of color photos that are very helpful for identification purposes.

It's a little pricey, but worth every cent.

Positive rebecca101 On Feb 5, 2008, rebecca101 wrote:

Excellent book - by far the most informative I've seen yet on trees & shrubs for gardens. Heavily laden with pretty pictures too. I really like that there is a long shot showing the habit of a mature specimen, as well as close ups showing foliage, fruit, flowers, and fall color for each plant.

Positive EugeniaBostwick On Dec 11, 2007, EugeniaBostwick wrote:

I love this has been on my nightstand for over a year! TIP: buy it used on Ebay for cheap if you're poor like me.
I may have to wait till I'm 90 (poor=small trees) but I'll have a fabulous arboretum yet!

Positive NHORDMAN On Jun 25, 2007, NHORDMAN wrote:

Fifteen years ago my brother gave me his well-annotated copy of the 1977 revision of Dirr's Encyclopedia. He treated this book reverentially and passed it along to me when he bought an updated edition for himself. As much as I hate to admit it, my brother was right. He's a professional ornamental horticulturist (MS degree and all), so he should know what he's talking about. Even an amateur like me can learn a lot from Dirr. If you can't afford the latest edition, look for an older one. The information is still accurate and useful.

Positive WigglyPaw On Aug 4, 2006, WigglyPaw wrote:

I was given a suggestion to read this book for more information about trees and such.

It was big, and pretty, and the pictures are lovely. Not too many trees are described, and some "not trees" or what I would not consider a tree (ailanthus style) were given many
pages of description.

It was written with love, I can tell that. You have to be really well versed about trees to make some of the wry observations that were written in the tree descriptions. I found the writing easy to understand, no high 'falutin' language nor obscure references to parentages.
Easy to understand but somewhat too generalized care formulas, but at least enough to get you started or know where to start from . I liked the fact that this Dirr character is not afraid to hand dig a 27' tree and transplant the sucker.
He gave me confidence to dig out a Sycamore and transplant it this July. It looks dead already, but , oh well...

This is a large, heavy and you need to have a table to prop it
up on to read it. You cannot read this in bed at night, it will fall on your face and break your nose when you drift off.

The few trees, mostly about the Oaks, were memorable,
as I am sure Mr. Dirr thought they should be. I liked being
given the teaser of what state, or what state park has the biggest or the fattest tree. I was pleasantly surprised that
99% of the grand trees it seemed, were in Michigan, where I had been led to believe, every single tree had been logged out. Truth! You should have seen the state before it was flattened by loggers. Literally. Not one tree left. Incredible that there are any oldsters left standing. Of course those are the ones planted over a grave, or by a logger barons house.

I think I need something more technical and more precise for my landscaping designs at this point as far as research goes, and for more variety.
I would recommend this book for sheer enjoyment of trees.
sheri williams

Positive Abutilon On Dec 30, 2005, Abutilon wrote:

I actually know this guy!

Great book!! And great author!!!
A very good investment you will use over and over again!

Alice Harris [abutilon @ dg)

Positive grikdog On Aug 10, 2005, grikdog wrote:

The great thing about Dirr is he actually has opinions.

Anyone who loves trees and shrubs should have this one handy.

Positive mariajose On May 2, 2005, mariajose wrote:

This book is a "bible" for those interested in horticulture - a true staple for any good library. One of the most important books in my library, one of those that you *want* to read because it is so enjoyable and informative.

I appreciate and search out authors who have opinions and explain them rather than just report all of the plants that are available and list their attributes. I need to know why a particular tree or shrub may not be a good match (or perhaps not "worthy") for my area and I particularly appreciate the sense of context that is brought to the table in this book. Dirr is an outstanding author of horticulture.

Positive sg114 On Feb 5, 2005, sg114 wrote:

In addition to detailed and helpful information on a whole lotta woody plants, the entries show a photo of the entire tree or shrub, not just a close up of the leaf or flower. This gives a much better idea of what form the plant takes and how it will look for real.

Positive nevadagdn On Nov 5, 2004, nevadagdn wrote:

I wouldn't be without this book, or the "plainer" Manual of Woody Plants, also by Dirr. These books are indispensable when selecting and siting trees and shrubs.

Positive Possum_Eater On Oct 23, 2004, Possum_Eater wrote:

This book should be renamed to the Bible for Trees.

Positive SalmonMe On Oct 17, 2004, SalmonMe wrote:

WOW! What a fabulous, comprehensive resource for figuring out "what that tree is"!! Also very useful for deciding about additions to your property, or even whether or not to nix a tree/shrub. Great info, easy read. Highly recommended.

Positive DonnaMack On Apr 15, 2004, DonnaMack wrote:

After a lifetime in condos, I moved to my first single family home six years ago and had to learn all I could about trees and shrubs. Dirr's book became my bible. He not only taught me to pursue the extraordinary (acer griseum, the paperback maple, as well as doublefile viburnums) but best of all, he pushed me past my biases. I thought viburnums were pedestrian, until his book made me really look at them. His recommendations for v. carlesi, v.dentatum, v. prunifolium and so on were right. His admiration of northern bayberries led me to the perfect foundation plant. Thanks to him, I have 7 oakleaf hydrangeas of 3 different kinds, as well as 5 fothergillas. Yes, he has biases (he dislikes common lilacs, which I love) but he explains why (one season of strong interest, mildew, suckers), and he kept me from making many mistakes, like growing things that jump out of the ground but are weak wooded, and plants that are disease prone or attractive in one season and ugly in three. His zone and cultivation predictions have always worked for me, and the comments are detailed, like the fact that X cultivar of Y plant is sensitive to heat stress. Or the fact that Z plant is great but will only live 15 years. I highly recommend this book.

Positive gardenmart On Mar 26, 2004, gardenmart wrote:

I used Dirr as a textbook for a tree and shrub course at my local community college. My professor had also met the author. I found it to be vastly informative, though Dirr is opinionated on certain species. He believes some are overused in the landscape and points out others that have escaped and become invasive species. A good companion to this book would be The Smithsonian Handbooks-Trees, Allen J. Coombes, editor. This is a great resource.

Positive margaretx On Feb 22, 2004, margaretx wrote:

This is a must have for all those who are truly horticulturists rather than growers. It answers a multitude of questions and helps identify any number of mysterious plants. I use it extensively for horticultural care. Unfortunately, since it is all about North American species or ones found here since publishing date, some of the newer imports aren't in it. Then it's truly a mystery and I generally turn to the web. Want to know when you're a horticulturist? When you sit nights reading the Hort III!!!

Positive Miggy On Feb 13, 2004, Miggy wrote:

I highly recomend this book it is one of the great reference books of our time. Great photos and great advice.

Positive Copperbaron On Feb 9, 2004, Copperbaron wrote:

A great book for learning about hardy woodies with beautiful color photographs. A lot of standard nursery items, but also a large number of lesser known but gardenworthy woodies. Highly recommended.

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