Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates
by Michael A. Dirr

2002, Timber Press, Portland, ORE. ISBN 0-88192-525-X

Reviewed by Cynthia W. Mueller, Master Gardener, Galveston County

This well-illustrated new book by Michael Dirr, the well known Georgia plantsman and Professor of Horticulture at the University of Georgia, will be useful to gardeners from USDA Zones 7-11, which includes not only the South but most of Texas and the Southwest.

Readers will appreciate the details of small illustrations that show exact differences in leaf shapes, flowers, bark details or trunk form when trying to identify closely related plants ranging from old Southern favorites (40 crape myrtles), viburnums (25), hollies (18), azaleas and their relatives to very newly introduced plants difficult to identify due to a lack of printed illustrations or descriptions. The Chinese loropetalum, Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum, for instance, only became available to American gardeners in the 1990's, and is already an extremely popular garden plant, with at least a dozen commercial cultivars.

Rare old-fashioned Southern favorites such as Butcher's Broom Ruscus aculeatus, Chinese Photinia Photinia serrulata, Fragrant Box Sarcococca ruscifolia and its confusing relatives are among those well illustrated and explained in this color encyclopedia which is sure to become one that the Southern gardener will keep close at hand.

Cost: $69.95