These first three volumes in a new series focus on a single aspect of woody plants: flowers, foliage, and fragrance, respectively. Within each, Church, a horticulturist who operates a specialist nursery and display garden in New Zealand, describes a little more than 100 genera, plus hundreds of additional species and cultivars. Greenfield, who collaborated with Church on Hydrangeas, supplies more than 250 beautiful photographs that reinforce the text. A common format includes genus description followed by discussion of selected species and cultivars within that genus. Size, color, and other physical features, common names, and other interesting characteristics are noted, as are U.S. and Canadian hardiness zones. A handy table at the back of each book alphabetically lists mentioned species and cultivars and their qualities, making it easy to identify and compare plants by specific traits such as color, size, and hardiness. The author provides cultivation tips based on years of experience with woody plants. Why publish three books instead of one? Those specifically looking for shrubs or trees with flowers, foliage, or fragrance in mind will appreciate the narrow focus and the modest price of the individual volumes. At the same time, these books work well together as a set because those who want the big picture will not have to suffer much repetition. Michael Dirr's Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, which covers woody plant species and varieties suitable for North American hardiness zones 3-6, and his Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, which covers zones 7-11, make good alternatives (or complements) to the special qualities approach. The three Church volumes are recommended singly or as a set for public and academic libraries, depending on individual library needs.-William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
New Zealanders Glyn Church and Pat Greenfield have collaborated to produce a lavishly illustrated, informative guide to woody plants. Focusing on over 100 genera, Glyn's vast knowledge, gleaned from his training in England and his own experience at his specialist nursery in New Zealand, shines through in his clearly-written text. Adding personal opinions and little known facts make the book an enjoyable read and the glorious photographs of Pat Greenfield highlight the special interests of these most useful backbones of every garden. There is a surprising range of shrubs within this group of that will bowl you over with their scent. From the lily of the valley overpowering aroma of Corylopsis pauciflora, the delicate winter scent of Lonicera fragrantissima, the heady smell of Syringa floating in the air of an early summer's evening. And less obvious scented shrubs such as Skimmia japonica, Ribes speciosum and Magnolia x soulangeana. Although several recommendations are not regarded as hardy here, following Glyn's cultivation advice should ensure the best possible chance of survival in the UK - and the resultant beauty should more than make up for the effort. Part of the "Woody Plant" series, this is another volume that all serious gardeners should not be without. - Lucy Watson