Hydrangeas are among the best-loved flowering shrubs and vines for American gardens. Their long-lasting blooms provide months of color from spring to the autumnal frosts; their adaptability under the extremes of cultivation (from USDA hardiness zones 3 to 10) makes them a sensible choice as well. However, the sheer number of Hydrangea species, hybrids, and cultivars can prove overwhelming even for the most advanced gardeners. How to choose from the hundreds of mopheads, lacecaps, climbers, and oakleafs, to name just a few? Respected plantsman Michael A. Dirr has written the first book to accurately describe the selection, care, and culture of hydrangeas for the length and breadth of North America. With practical "hands-in-the-soil" advice and detailed observation based on years of scientific research, Hydrangeas for American Gardens is an indispensable reference for all gardeners and hydrangea enthusiasts.
Professor Dirr explains in understandable terminology the basic botanical categories of hydrangeas and how they've yielded the colorful hybrids that are treasured today. He enumerates the horticultural assets and liabilities of each type of hydrangea, and offers invaluable advice on which choices are best for which regions of North America - the optimum choice for Seattle's misty climate might melt like butter in the steamy heat of Atlanta. Professor Dirr even provides a futuristic glimpse of the interesting and unusual species and hybrids - including reblooming types - that will be making their way into nurseries in the years ahead. With treatises on propagation, pruning, breeding, drying, design, and pests and diseases, this book will become the classic reference for gardeners in the United States and Canada.
I've been eagerly awaiting this book since I saw it listed, and just couldn't wait for Christmas, so I ordered it for myself. I Just got this book the other night and have read through it almost entirely already. It might be the most thorough listing of hydrangea cultivar's I've seen to date, but I was still a little unhappy with the amount of information given on the individual cultivars.
I found Mr. Dirr's style of writing more like he was sometimes,"thinking to himself," and jotting as he went. I found I had to reread many sentences over several times, because they seemed disjointed. He would sometimes add something at the end of a sentence that left me wondering, "where did that come from?"
Mr. Dirr also seems to give most of his perspectives from a zone of 7 - not always a useful tool when dealing with cultivar's in zone 5 and 6 - although he does spend some time on a few of the new hardier varieties like Endless Summer, etc. Still, it would have been nice to see zone listings on each cultivar, as that can vary a great deal. It would have given us northern gardeners a better idea of hardiness for our regions - especially on "borderline" cultivars.
I'd like to give this book a more positive rating, somewhere between neutral and positive. It does give a lot of useful information, however, it just falls a little short of the guide that I was hoping for.
On December 5th, 2004, lmelling changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:
I\'m changing the rating of this book to positive from neutral as I\'ve had time to access more of the information available within its covers and have come to understand a bit more about the author.
There is sometimes a line that is more of a \'thought in process\' rather than a sentence, but we\'ll chalk that up to a need for better editing. I still wish more thought had gone into giving the gardener a better idea of zone hardiness on each cultivar.