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Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia

By Michael A. Dirr

The ultimate in reference texts about shrubs and trees.

Joel M. Lerner, Washington Post

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.

Awards for this book: Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Book, Garden Writers Association of America Quill & Trowel Award

Media reviews

"A great resource when searching for great landscape plants."

—Nancy Szerlag, Detroit News

"Michael Dirr is the acknowledged authority on American trees and shrubs. His book ... is a valuable reference."

Garden Design

"A first-class source on the very best garden trees and shrubs."

Library Journal

"A must for academic libraries."


"Dirrís illustrated encyclopedia is another in a series of exquisite horticultural and gardening books published by Timber Press."


"This volume ... will become a standard garden reference source."


"The author has a descriptive and entertaining style."


"Dirrís Hardy Trees and Shrubs is certain to expand the horizons of gardeners formerly content with the handful of shrubs to be found at the local nursery.Ē"

—Rebecca Sawyer-Fay, Country Living Gardener

"The ultimate in reference texts about shrubs and trees."

—Joel M. Lerner, Washington Post

"Before you invest in a tree or shrub, think about investing in this book."


"Highly recommended for horticulturists, landscape architects, arboreta, botanical gardens, and all libraries needing a comprehensive reference on woody plants."

—Daniel Kalk, Library Journal

"A photographic tour-de-force, this is the book Dirr fans have been waiting for. In addiction to the usual opinionated and informative text we have come to expect from Dirr, this encyclopedia of hardy woody plants is illustrated with 1,650 full-color photographs selected by the author from his slide collection. At the end of the book is a useful index of plants grouped by desirable characteristics and cultural requirements."

American Gardener

"A handy source of information for your personal library."

—Julie Mallory, Evansville Courier and Press

"Will unquestionably become one of the most beautiful and significant books in the gardenerís library."

—Diana George Chapin, Bangor Daily News

"For a basic and comprehensive reference book on shrubs and trees ... there is none other than Michael A. Dirr's Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs."

—Honey Sharp Lippmann, Berkshire Homestyle

"Unquestionably one of the most significant books ever published, this lavishly illustrated encyclopedia describes the best woody plants, from Abeliophyllum to Zenobia."

—Ralph Snodsmith, Garden Hotline Newsletter

"Dirr is passionate about the trees and shrubs he loves ... His sometimes terse writing manner makes this book a delight to read ... This is a most valuable resource."

Holmes Runner

"Iíll never want to give up this book."

—Lynn McNaughton, Waseca County News

"A good investment for those with existing landscapes as well as those who are just starting to landscape their yards."

—Lynn McNaughton, Waseca County News

"A fabulous resource that describes the best of more than 5,000 species."

—Natalie Walsh, Schenectady Daily Gazette

"A useful and beautifully illustrated work."

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

"Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs is an important and valuable reference work which no life sciences library should be without ... This book is a classic."

—Douglas Darnowski, Plant Science Bulletin

"The usefulness of this book does not stop with the encyclopedic listings."

American Rhododendron Society Journal

"If I were to own only one book on trees and shrubs this would be the one."

—Bill Cannon, Quincy Patriot Ledger

"Released in 1997, itís a horticultural classic."

—Carol Howe, Rockland Courier-Gazette

"It is with practicalities that Dirr scores most highly, with his combinations of stirring verbal descriptions and excellent photography."

Arboricultural Journal

"Dirr tells it like it is, and if a plant isnít worth planting heíll warn you."

—Jimmy Williams, Paris (TN) Post Intelligencer

"The author is to be congratulated on his long years of dedication in accumulating such a wealth of photographs and information. At $69.95 I do not consider this to be too high a price for such an excellent publication."

—Martin Gardner, Plantsman

"If one is seeking a reference on woody plants, this is probably the very best of those by an American authority."

—Margaret C. Crooks, Asbury Park Press

"Dirr's encyclopedia is an excellent reference book and point of departure for anyone who wants to know more about a particular tree of shrub."

Design Connections

"Honest, parochial, personal, and glib, Dirrís Hardy Tress and Shrubs is a trove of beauty and substance."

—Mary Pat Boian, American Reference Books Annual

"Dirr's encyclopedia is an excellent reference book and point of departure for anyone who wants to know more about a particular tree or shrub ... His respect for the plants is open."

Design Connections

"Dirrís Hardy Trees and Shrubs is a must buy for all who love woody plants, and for most of our plant materials students as well."

—Brian Maynard, HortScience

"Those readers not familiar with Michael Dirr's plant books would do well to make Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs their first."

—Brian Maynard, HortScience

"a spectacular accompaniment to the Manual and itself a formidable encyclopedia. The short essays resound with Dirr's inimitable voice. His excellent photographs–1,650 of them–run the book into an enormous, magnificent armchair arboretum."

—Marty Ross, Kansas City Star

"A necessity in every serious gardenerís library."

—Suzanne Hively, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"For more advice from the pros, get a copy of Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Michael Dirr's huge compendium (495 pages) ... is an invaluable reference and belongs on every gardener's bookshelf."

—Linda Brazill, Capital Times (Madison)

"Though my shelves sag under the weight of books about trees and shrubs, thereís still space for a pictoral encyclopedia that does the subject justice."


"Dirrís book is an easily read compendium of useful, up-to-date information and instructions for selecting plant materials for anyone interested in growing or utilizing them in the landscape."


"Especially enjoyable and useful for the gardener in the eastern U.S."


"This book is a must for every serious gardener."

—Erica Glasener, Fine Gardening

"Michael Dirr's Manual of Woody Plants had long been the bible of professional horticulturists, but that unillustrated tome can be heavy going for laypeople. Here, Dirr makes his opionated wisdom accessible to all. Most entries can be grown across the U.S."

—Sarah Gray Miller, Garden Design

"The treasure of Dirr's book is the photographs, not just for their beauty but for their detail."


"The ultimate in reference texts about shrubs and trees was released in September. Hardy Trees and Shrubs (Timber Press) by Michael Dirr, one of the nationís preeminent woody plants experts, sets what should be the standard for plant books. This compendium is in a class by itself for its honest descriptions. Its 490 pages offer a lot of information and there are more than 1,600 full-color photographs. It is a beautiful presentation that will save more than its price by ensuring that whomever receives it will make good plant selections."

—Joel M. Lerner, Washington Post

"An essential volume for any gardener with more than a casual interest in trees and shrubs."

—John Van de Water, Newark Star-Ledger

"If you can't tell your Aesculus parvi ora from your Parrotia persica then this guide to the best woody plants should have pride of place on your shelves."


"Certainly the encyclopedia is an excellent photo essay, but it is more."

—Hilda Morrill, HortResources Newsletter

"With scientific text accompanied by excellent photographs, Dirr provides the fundamentals for landscaping."

—Honey Sharp Lippmann, Berkshire Homestyle

"Michael Dirr has his own unique slant on things, and I think that it enriches this volume."

—Linda Cobb, Spartanburg Herald-Journal

"I consider it a fine addition to any gardening library."

—Linda Cobb, Spartanburg Herald-Journal

"In making choices for your garden you canít do better than Dirrís Hardy Trees and Shrubs ... [Dirrís] inimitable style of writing is in high gear – he doesnít hesitate to trenchantly admire or dislike a subject, and the photographs are both very beautiful and excellently descriptive. This is a must-have reference that can be confidently placed on the coffee–table too."

—Ann Milovsoroff, Pappus

"Fortunately, for all gardeners, Michael Dirr has written this book. We can all benefit from his scholarship and his keen, and I am pleased to say, practical obervations."

—John E. Bryan, Gardening Newsletter

"The text and photographs have been meticulously merged into a pure volume that delights the eyes and mind."

Recommended Reference Books for Small and Medium Libraries

"Comprehensive, well organized, and trustworthy."

American Rhododendron Society Journal

"A reference book of the first order."

American Rhododendron Society Journal

"This handsome volume will never hit my coffee table; itís too useful to me right where I work."

—Carol Howe, Rockland Courier-Gazette

"(This book will) give you a real appreciation for the many trees and shrubs that thrive in our hardiness zones 7 and 8."

Hampton Roads Gardening

"It is an excellent reference for both the weekend gardener and serious horticulturalist."


"This tome is of a very high standard–its most outstanding feature being the high quality of photographs which have taken the author more than 25 years to accumulate."

—Martin Gardner, Plantsman

"It is a handsome book that will make you want to go out and hug a tree."

—Mark Laiosa, WBAI 99.5 FM

"Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia ... is excellent."

—Marty Figley, Michigan Observer and Eccentric

"A beautiful, well laid out book ... The text is easy to read and fun ... excellent reference book."

—Bill Funkhouser, Perennial Notes

"Sit down with Dirrís Hardy Trees and Shrubs and be gratified by nearly 500 pages of sensational photographs accompanied by clear, smooth, and visceral text ... The text and photographs have been meticulously merged into a pure volume that delights the eyes and mind."

—Mary Pat Boian, American Reference Books Annual

"What a wonderful addition to the horticultural library!"

Perennial Plants

"Of great use to garden designer in particular, this book will allow them to gain vital insights into the habits, culture and visual impact of many of the trees and shrubs used in northern gardens."

—Martin Crawford, Agroforestry News

"The addition of color photographs makes Dirr's new book an excellent visual reference for plant selection and identification."

Springfield Republican

"This profusely illustrated encyclopedia is dangerous to one's garden budget."

—Judy Glattstein, Through the Garden Gate

"An excellent reference book and a fine gift for the holidays."

—Judy Glattstein, Through the Garden Gate

"Stunning color photographs document this famous plantsman's recommendations."

American Bookseller

About the author

Michael A. Dirr

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.

Read more about Michael A. Dirr

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