Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day Five: Five Books Every House Needs

The final book in our series of five is Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia by Michael A. Dirr. This book is for gardeners what Dr. Spock was for parents in the 1960s. While primarily for cooler climates (through Zone 6), there is a companion - Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates: An Illustrated Encycopedia that covers Zones 7-11. I purchased my copy of the colder 'hardy trees' book before the warmer climate version was available. I'm in Zone 7 and haven't felt a need to purchase the later, warmer climates book. If you're purchasing your Dirr's now, however, you can choose the one that best fits your location.

To me, the great thing about these two books is not the first section with all the tree/shrub descriptions and photos, rather it is: "Part II, Selecting Plants for Specific Characteristics or Purposes". Dirr has organized the characteristics in useful ways which give the garden designer much-needed information. Are you looking for a tree with fall color or interesting bark? Are you tired of the same old trees that everyone grows? (Check out the list of 'underutilized' trees.) Is your garden boring in February? Need an evergreen that can tolerate salt? Looking for a vine with a strong fragrance? The answers to all your questions are in this section.

Obviously this book recommendation carries a caveat - it may not be needed in every house. It's a gardening book and if you live in a flat in the city with no patio or rooftop garden, you may survive happily without this - you could, however, substitute a great indoor plant reference. But, you might be find the perfect container shrub for that sunny spot in the bedroom or a tree that will stay small enough for your patio. In other words, don't rule it out without at least flipping through it in the book store.

This concludes our Five Books Every House Needs series. I've enjoyed sharing some of my favorites and would love to hear which books you find invaluable.

Tomorrow we'll be grilling so stop by for a great marinade made with sherry and soy sauce. Right now I think I should check the sherry to make sure it's still good . . . Cheers!

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. I see that you've decided to follow my little ole blog. I really appreciate that. I came over for a visit. I like your top 5 book series. The first one sounded really familiar to me, so I went to the bookcase. But no, I don't have Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs. I have Dirr's, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants instead. No pretty pictures are included. It's basically that, a manual, and a HUGE one at that. It was purchased during my stint as an Illinois Master Gardener. One thing that has not come in handy in Southern California. Well, I think I've opened it a time or two. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and I'll be back for a visit.


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