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Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates: An Illustrated Encyclopedia

By Michael A. Dirr

No other writer on gardening speaks to the subject with Dirr's experience, acumen, and ability to instruct. Simply indispensable.


Following the phenomenal success of Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs, written for gardeners in the climates of USDA zones 3–6, this companion volume is a superlative photographic encyclopedia of trees, shrubs, and vines for "warm temperate" zones. In North America, these areas (zones 7–11) stretch from the Mid-Atlantic states to the South, include most of Texas and the Southwest, and encompass the entire West Coast, up to western Canada. Many parts of the British Isles, Australia, and New Zealand experience similar conditions. In a nutshell, any gardener who lives in an area where average winter temperatures do not fall below 0° Fahrenheit (–18° Celsius) will want this book, and curious gardeners in colder zones may well want to test these select plants in their local microclimates.

This remarkable volume shows both the habit and details — flower, fruit, bark, fall color — of more than 400 species and describes hundreds more cultivars and varieties. Certain genera offer myriad hybrids and selections, and photographs of many of the best of these are included as well — nearly 40 named crapemyrtles, a dozen teaolives, and 11 loropetalums. In all, more than 1400 photographs join with the authoritative text to bring the plants to life.

From Abelia to Ziziphus, gardeners will encounter many new and unfamiliar plants that thrive in warmer climates. Dirr gives special attention to hardy palms that can survive outside the subtropics. The book also reflects the author's inimitable personality, which holds nothing back when a plant deserves outright acclaim ("If prescriptions could be written for perfect garden plants, this species would come close to filling the order"), backhanded praise ("Use for accent, for novelty, or to drive visitors loony"), or frank condemnation ("Splays to the point of no redemption with time").

The book concludes with useful lists for selecting plants for a variety of conditions or for ornamental characteristics, such as flower color and fragrance, fruit, and fall color.

Media reviews

"Useful to those with microclimates or adventurous gardeners who want to test the limits of their zone."

—Denise Cowie, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Yet another must-have reference book [by Michael Dirr] ... an indispensable resource for both novice and experienced gardeners."

Fine Gardening

"Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates is such a sumptuous feast for both eye and mind that if you live in a warm climate and grow woody plants, you must own it!"

—Scott Ranger, American Gardener

"Even if you can't grow anything that appears in this book, it's worth looking at for an overview of the growth of Dirr's personal garden, a reminder that time (and the horticultural resources at the University of Georgia) can accomplish almost anything."

—Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times Book Review

"No other writer on gardening speaks to the subject with Dirr's experience, acumen, and ability to instruct. Simply indispensable."

—Alice Joyce, Booklist

"Dirr is a not-very-retired professor of ornamental horticulture who has ... earned his reputation for great expertise. ... In an era of searchable computerized databases, flipping pages in a book might seem downright quaint, but Dirr's authoritative reports make the flipping worthwhile."

—Tom Karwin, Monterey County Herald

"Mr. Dirr has a knack for including precisely the right words about each plant."

—Glenda Alexander, Heather Enthusiasts of the Redwood Empire Newsletter

"Another reference to help guide the southern gardener toward perfection in their garden paths."

—James H. Flynn Jr., American Reference Books Annual

"Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates is second to none for its authoritative but easy-to-read text and excellent color photographs."

—Bob Souvestre, Baton Rouge Advocate

"Tree lovers in any climate will find this an indispensable volume."

—Jim Carlson, Country Almanac

"A southern gardener will relish this book that covers over 400 species described in detail, including hundreds of cultivars and varieties."

—Callie Jo Schweitzer, Quarterly Review of Biology

"A triumph! ... Southern gardeners have been known to covet the climate in England or the Pacific Northwest. Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates left me rejoicing that I can actually grow many of these splendid plants."

—Paula Refi, Perennial Notes

"The biggest strength of this reference volume is its well-conceived format with brief text in large type."

—Jerry Jump, Hardy Plant

"[Dirr's] encyclopedia of more than four hundred plants is artfully arranged to provide close-up and full length views to augment the very complete plant descriptions."

—Marge Howard-Jones, California Garden

"Dirr's lively writing style makes the book enjoyable to read, e.g., oleander is 'tougher than a tick in terms of adaptability.'"

—Susan Knorr, Fairchild Tropical Garden

"Probably the finest photographic collection of warm temperate trees and shrubs ever produced."

Agroforestry News

"Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates follows the tradition of excellence in book writing. He has given us yet another gardening encyclopedia loaded with mouth watering photos ... You will want to add this volume to your gardening library."

—Linda Cobb, Spartanburg Herald-Journal

"Dirr is one of the most important voices in North American woody plants ... [Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates] can be considered a major reference investment for the committed gardener."

—Donna Williamson, Grandiflora

"If your winter temperatures don't go below [freezing], you'll find much of interest in this book ... The descriptions are always insightful and often witty, spiced by a dry humor and information by Professor Dirr's vast knowledge of ornamental trees and shrubs."


"A user-friendly and attractive book ... Detailed and beautifully illustrated plant encyclopedia."

Plant Science Bulletin

"An invaluable addition to the library of anyone who gardens in the 'warm temperate' Zones 7-11 ... Drawn from the well-traveled researcher's decades of obsessive observation and liberally seasoned with humor, the richly informative plant profiles provide multiseasonal descriptions and tell how to use and care for hundreds of species and cultivars suitable for Zones 7-9 and warmer."

—Carol Bishop Miller, Horticulture

"Since publication in 1997, Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs has been a preferred resource of many accomplished gardeners ... Now gardeners in warmer zones have their own version of this trusted text."

—Rebecca Sawyer-Fay, Country Living Gardener

"This volume is another Mike Dirr success. You will learn about vines, ground covers, and shrubs through Dirr's knowledge and expertise. Make this book your companion when searching for the best woody species for warm climates."

Southern Living

"What sets this book apart from many other botanical encyclopedias is the author's personal writing style, which breathes life into the text ... Dirr's encyclopedia is strongly and unhesitatingly recommended."

Library Journal

"Mr. Dirr has chosen more than 400 species and nearly 500 additional cultivars and varieties to describe in concise text and illustrate with beautiful photos. All in all, this is an exciting book to read for information or pure pleasure."

American Rhododendron Society Journal

"Michael Dirr has done it again!"

—Donna Williamson, HortResources Newsletter

"This book is a very valuable pictorial reference for students and professionals."

—Marietta Loehrlein, Western Illinois University

"Dirr includes far more interesting plants than most such compendiums."

—Ann Lovejoy, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Authoritative, precise, and entertaining."

—Don Davis, Lynchburg News and Advance

"A very approachable guide to both old and new woody plants in zones 611. Dirr's commentary is dependably exact and often humorous and self-deprecating, which makes this a very readable guide for professional and novice gardeners alike."

—Lynn Rogers, Northwest Arkansas Times

"Those who know Michael Dirr's books ... will want to add his latest book of trees, shrubs and vines for the warm temperate zones USDA 711."

—Russell Studebaker, Tulsa World

"A fresh look at trees and shrubs, just for us ... Should prove of great value to landscapers, plant merchants and serious gardeners."

—Nancy Brachey, Charlotte Observer

"This beautifully illustrated tome is destined to become a classic for southern gardeners ... This is a book to inform and inspire us."

—Lynette Walther, Palatka Daily News

"It's been awhile since I confessed how much I adore Michael Dirr. His new book ... provides me with a good excuse to do it all over again."

—Patricia Jonas, Plants and Gardens News

"[Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates] is sure to become one that the Southern gardener will keep close at hand."

—Cynthia W. Mueller, Southern Garden

"Cannot be too highly recommended."

Avant Gardener

"A perfect reference source for our area ... The back of the book is a gold mine."

—Patricia A. Taylor, Trenton Times

"An extraordinary book with wonderful photographs."

Garden Specialist

"This is truly an encyclopedia of beauty ... Even if you are not into woody plants this book will surely please you."

Sida, Contributions to Botany

"Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates is a 'must have' book on trees and shrubs."

—Winston Dunwell, University of Kentucky HortMemo

"I ordered [this book] sight unseen, and have been satisfied with it, and shown it off, ever since."

—Jeff Stevens, Southeastern Palms

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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