When I was awarded the PR contract to represent the new Dirr's Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs earlier this year, I almost fainted. An author who is a horticultural legend + an unprecedented encyclopedia = a once in a lifetime opportunity. And this week, Timber Press is giving away a copy of this massive book...so head over and leave a comment to enter the drawing!
I met Dr. Michael Dirr and his wife Bonnie back in August when he was in Portland for his speaking engagement at Farwest. I don't know what I expected...I mean, the man is a living legend. There is no one on the planet with a greater working knowledge of woody plants (the don't call him the "Father of Woody Plants" for nothin'). Through his years of hybridizing work, teaching and writing, he has contributed to the body of horticultural knowledge in an exceptional and singular way. I think that earns him the right to throw a little entitlement around. You know, "take the blue M & M's out, only drape my pre-performance room in white" sort of thing.
But Dirr is anything but entitled. Instead, I found him to be quick-witted, intelligent and self-effacing. His wife Bonnie was full of dry humor and wisdom, in her own right. And, Dirr is a bit of a curmudgeon...something that makes him all the more endearing. As we sat down to dinner, it became clear that I was going to have to bust out my A game in order to keep up with the sheer volume of ideas.
After that meeting, I became a follower in the cult of Dirr. It's true, he inspires a religious zeal in his followers that is unparalleled. And while you might be tempted to consider me a bit kooky, let me tell you this...I would personally buy any book he's written at full cost. And that's saying something, since I generally get free review copies and his books tend to be pricey.
Dirr's Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs is full of anything and everything you'd need to know about the subject. And of course, there are gorgeous photographs that make identification a snap. But what you likely won't expect, is Dirr's quirky sense of humor. He's a no nonsense, give it to you straight, dead pan humor kind of guy. He infuses this book with "Dirr-isms" that make reading it a joy.
Bottom Line: I give this book two thumbs up...and a wink to Dr. Dirr.