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This book is rightfully referred to as the "bible" of horticulture books. It is for the novice as well as the expert. Updated every few years, it is the best reference for almost any variety of shrub or tree. Michael Dirr is a wonderfully knowledgeable writer and speaker, and a real hoot to read and/or listen to in person. It is an expensive investment, but hey, isn't that what birthdays are for?! A great companion reference is his full-color book, Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs. (By the way, Timber Press is THE source for horticulture books.) P.S. Dirr frequently refers readers to other books for additional information (even more varieties), although his entries are most detailed. You will never regret acquiring this book.
A must have for any woody plant lover. The "bible" of woody plants with a North American slant, there is an astounding amount of information written in Dirr's inimitable, no-holds-barred style of plant descriptions that are not only informative, but fun to read. Amazingly for a book this much fun to read, the book is also a standard in numerous American universities' woody plants horticultural programs.