Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Michael A. Dirr

I’ve had few brushes with fame in my life- but my favorite might classify me as a complete plant nerd fanatic.  After reading his books, studying his notes, obsessing over his photographs, I finally met Michael A. Dirr.  Dirr is the plantman of plantpeople. There have been countless discussions about plants- what to use where, to what size does a plant grow- and every time it is agreed to refer to Dirr.  “Look it up in Dirr.”, “What does Dirr say about that?” and “I would consult Dirr.” End of dirrscussion.
Michael A. Dirr
Dirr has earned a Bachelors in Science degree in Plant Physiology and a Masters in Science degree in Plant Physiology from Ohio State University and a Ph.D in Plant Physiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in 1972. Upon graduation from the University of Massachusetts, Dirr was an Assistant Professor of Ornamental Horticulture at the University of Illinois, Urbana, where he continued to work until 1978. He then became a Mercer Fellow at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University though 1979. In 1979, he became the Director of the University of Georgia Botanical Garden. In 1981, he returned to teach at the University of Georgia and was promoted to Professor in 1984. (Wikipedia)
A page from Manual of Woody Landscape Plants
His book, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture and Propagation and Uses has become one of the most widely adopted reference text in the education of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. It has sold over 250,000 copies. (Wikipedia)

I met him at the Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association’s winter meeting in 2010.  We were both walking into the conference room at the same time and he held the door for me.  After thanking him for his work with plants and the reliable resources that I have been using for years, he signed my copy of Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs! If you don’t have any of Dirr’s books in your library, you might want to reconsider.  You too will refer to Dirr over and over again. 

Dirr signed, "Dear Julie, May the book continue to educate and inspire.
Sincerely, Michael Dirr 1-13-2010 Connecticut"

Dirr is well known for his Hydrangea introducations

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