All you have to do is leave a comment with Timber Press, the book’s publisher, before Friday, December 2, 2011, at 4:00 p.m. Pacific time.
The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. A winner will be selected at random from all entries and announced by Timber Press on Friday.
After reading the introduction to Michael Dirr’s new Encyclopedia of Trees & Shrubs, I just have one thing to say: I want this guy as a neighbor.
I’d get the rare opportunity to watch a genius at the work of “garden-making” and see how some of his new tree and shrub introductions perform in the landscape.
Instead of being able to watch him work right next door, I’ll have to settle for seeing the results of his efforts in his heavy-weight new encyclopedia. And I do mean heavy weight. This book must weigh 6 or 7 pounds.
Contained inside its 950 pages are more than 3500 color images of species and cultivars in 380 genera. The encyclopedia focuses on what he calls “the best new introductions of the past 10-15 years.”
That’s just half the amount of time Dirr has spent at the University of Georgia as a horticulture professor. During that time he’s also been involved in breeding, evaluating and introducing many ornamental plants to the nursery industry as a partner in Plant Introductions, Inc.
Along with two partners, Dirr turned an old hog farm into a first-class plant breeding facility where they work to help the industry help gardeners like us. They’re looking for the plants we want in our landscape: easy to grow, disease resistant, continuous flowering, and low-maintenance.
Dirr’s book is a must-have reference for anyone who loves and works with trees and shrubs. I especially appreciate these fabulous features:
- The table of contents is a list of all the trees and shrubs in alphabetical order by genus from Abelia to Ziziphus. The page number for each genus takes readers to pages of recommended species.
- Color images of each species give readers a complete picture of the plant. Images show the full view of each tree or shrub, plus close-up views of the flowers, fruit, leaves, needles and bark. Images show what new growth looks like and the color of the leaves in fall.
- In addition to the beautiful images, Dirr provides descriptions that are much more entertaining than typical entries in any other plant encyclopedia. His comments are as much about educating readers as they are about inspiring us to think more deeply about our planting choices.
For example, “A red maple from Florida is not the same as a red maple from Maine,” he writes about Acer rubrum. “The name may be the same, but leaf shape, degree of leaf retention, fall color, and cold hardiness are distinctly different. A red maple from Florida will die in Maine, and vice versa.”
Or how about this entry for Akebia quinata (fiveleaf akebia): “I have a strong love-hate relationship with this most vigorous twining vine.”
- In many of the tree and shrub listings, Dirr includes information on improvements in certain cultivars and varieties.
- One of the other helpful features of Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees & Shrubs is the comprehensive index. He’s separated the index into sections that help readers select plants by specific characteristics like flower color, flowering sequence, fragrance, winter interest, shade tolerance, dry soils, hedging, habit, and much more.
One lucky reader will win a copy of the Encyclopedia this week. It could be you if you leave a comment at the Timber Press website before December 2, 2011, at 4:00 p.m. Pacific time. Good Luck!