Dirr, Michael A(lbert) 1944–
DIRR, Michael A(lbert) 1944–
PERSONAL: Born 1944. Education: University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Ph.D., 1972.
CAREER: Former teacher at University of Massachusetts, University of Illinois, Urbana, and Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University; University of Georgia, Athens, professor emeritus of ornamental horticulture; GIYP.com (online horticulture directory), head of trees and shrubs category of Virtual Plant Tag database.
AWARDS, HONORS: Agricultural Alumni Outstanding Teacher award, University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, 1998; L. C. Chadwick Educator Award, American Nursery and Landscape Association, 1998; D. W. Brooks Award, University of Georgia, 2000; teaching award, American Horticultural Society, 2000; Arthur Hoyt Scott Garden and Horticultural Award; educator award, American Society of Horticultural Science; silver medal, Massachusetts Horticultural Society, for excellence in horticultural writing; Slater Wight Memorial Award, Southern Nurseryman's Association; Linnaeus Award, Chicago Botanic Garden; Medal of Honor, Garden Club of America; the Michael A. Dirr Endowed Professorship at the University of Georgia was created in Dirr's honor.
Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation, and Uses, illustrated by Bonnie L. Dirr, Stipes Pub. (Champaign, IL), 1975, 5th revised edition, 1998.
All about Evergreens, illustrated by Ron and Ronda Hildebrand, Ortho Books (San Francisco, CA), 1984.
(With Charles W. Heuser) The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation: From Seed to Tissue Culture: A Practical Working Guide to the Propagation of over 1,100 Species, Varieties, and Cultivars, Varsity Press (Athens, GA), 1987.
(With others) Creative Home Landscaping: How to Plan and Beautify Your Yard: With a Guide to More than 400 Landscape Plants, Ortho Books (San Francisco, CA), 1987.
Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Timber Press (Portland, OR), 1997.
Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Timber Press (Portland, OR), 2002.
Hydrangeas for American Gardens, illustrated by Bonnie L. Dirr, Timber Press (Portland, OR), 2004.
Also author of Michael A. Dirr's Photo-Library of Woody Landscape Plants on CD-ROM, PlantAmerica.
SIDELIGHTS: Horticulturist Michael A. Dirr taught for more than twenty years at the University of Georgia. Since retiring, he has continued his research work there on a part-time basis. Dirr was instrumental in establishing the University of Georgia's campus arboretum and in preparing materials for the walking tour of trees. His Georgia plant introduction program has introduced sixty-four cultivars to the nursery trade and has inspired similar programs in other states. Dirr's passion for his subject has, over the years, inspired a growing number of students to also become horticulture professionals.
Among Dirr's books is the Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation, and Uses, which has been revised many times since its first publication. It has become the bible of the landscape and nursery industry and is used in many classrooms. It is also of great value to the homeowner. Carol Stocker, who reviewed the book for the Boston Globe, noted that because Dirr had a one-year sabbatical at the Arnold Arboretum from 1978 to 1979, "he's familiar with New England plants, and often cites individual specimens in local parks."
Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia contains 1,650 pictures, chosen from the vast collection of plant photographs Dirr has taken over the years. This volume features plants in hardiness zones three to six, but some of the more than 500 species that are included will grow in warmer climates. The photographs included show closeups of flowers, leaves, fruit, bark, and whole specimens, sometimes in flower or with fall coloring. Horticulture contributor Carol Bishop Miller called the volume "a beautiful production," while Booklist contributor Mary Ellen Quinn felt that Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs will become a standard garden reference.
Dirr repeated the book's format with Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. This volume includes some 1,500 photographs of species and cultivars suitable for the gardens of the American South and temperate climates as far west as British Columbia. It also contains a section on cold-hardy palms. Booklist reviewer Alice Joyce, who called the volume "indispensable," said that there is not another garden writer who can speak "to the subject with Dirr's experience, acumen, and ability to instruct." Callie Jo Schweitzer, who reviewed the volume for the Quarterly Review of Biology, praised Dirr's photographs and added that the text "is written in a welcoming manner, as if the author was standing in the garden with readers."
Hydrangeas for American Gardens consists of ten chapters that study the wide variety within the hydrangea species, not all of which are hardy in the various zones of the United States, and many of which do not resemble the familiar white, pink, or blue hydrangea (the colors of which are influence by soil conditions). Dirr includes information on care and culture, propagation, diseases, pests, and new hybridized versions. Joyce wrote that "Dirr's reigning expertise in the realm of trees and shrubs comes through once again."
In 2004 Dirr joined the team of plant experts at GIYP.com, the Green Industry Yellow Pages. The organization's Web site hosts the Virtual Plant Tag, an online database of information on plants. Dirr heads the trees-and-shrubs category of the database.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 17, 2003, Martha Tate, "Garden Notes: New Mophead Will Offer Almost 'Endless' Blooms," p. HG6.
Booklist, April, 1998, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, p. 1342; January 1, 2002, Alice Joyce, review of Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, p. 788; June 1, 2004, Alice Joyce, review of Hydrangeas for American Gardens, p. 1682.
Boston Globe, June 13, 1986, Carol Stocker, review of Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation, and Uses, p. 83.
Horticulture, March, 1998, Carol Bishop Miller, review of Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs, p. 72.
Library Journal, November 15, 1997, Daniel Kalk, review of Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs, p. 50; February 15, 2002, Deborah Anne Broocker, review of Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates, p. 134; June 1, 2004, Beth Clewis Crim, review of Hydrangeas for American Gardens, p. 168.
Publishers Weekly, May 31, 2004, review of Hydrangeas for American Gardens, p. 69.
Quarterly Review of Biology, December, 2002, Callie Jo Schweitzer, review of Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates, p. 460.
Sunset, December, 1997, Jim McCausland, review of Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs, p. 64.
GIYP.com, http://www.giyp.com/ (June, 2004), "Prolific Author and Teacher, Michael Dirr Joins GIYP.com Team of Plant Experts."