Dr. Michael Dirr to Headline USC Upstate’s Arbor Day Celebration

November 28, 2011 at 3:20 am

Spartanburg, S.C. – Michael A. Dirr, Ph.D., popular gardening author, retired professor of horticulture and legend in the plant world will headline the University of South Carolina Upstate’s annual S.C. Arbor Day celebration on Friday, December 2, 2011. The day’s events will include a presentation for garden enthusiasts starting at 11 a.m., a luncheon at 12 p.m., and an outdoor garden workshop from 1:30-3 p.m., all led by Dr. Dirr.

Tickets go on sale November 1 and can be purchased online (www.uscupstate.edu/arborday) or by calling (864) 503-5235. Tickets for the presentation and lunch are $25, or $35 for the presentation, lunch and workshop. Seats are very limited for the workshop so be sure to sign up early.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Dirr speaking to us on S.C. Arbor Day this year. He is the world’s leading authority on trees, and his subject of Noble Trees is so important. We are expecting a sold out house so get your tickets early. You won’t want to miss this!” said Linda Cobb, master gardener and “Guide By Cell” voice of USC Upstate’s Susan Jacobs Arboretum.

Dirr, now retired from the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia, has published more than 300 scientific and popular papers and articles. He is the author of 12 books, four of which will be available for purchase and signing at the event or through online ordering. They include The Manual of Woody Landscape Plants ($60), the newly-released Dirr’s Encylopedia of Trees and Shrubs ($70), Hydrangeas for American Gardens ($30) and Viburnums: Flowering Shrubs for Every Season ($35).

Dirr has also introduced more than 100 new plant varieties to the horticulture world including top-selling introductions of the abelias ‘Rose Creek’ and ‘Canyon Creek,’ the buddleias ‘Attraction’ and ‘Bicolor,’ the fothergilla ‘Mt. Airy,’ the ‘Dazzle’ line of crape myrtles, and his latest gardeniaHeaven Scent.’ Often called the Hydrangea Guru, he developed the varieties ‘Lady in Red’ and ‘Twist-n-Shout,’ the first of many patented releases with improved traits such as cold hardiness, repeat blooming and/or drought tolerance. He was also instrumental in the introduction of ‘Endless Summer’ and ‘Endless Summer Blushing Bride’ to nurseries and garden centers across the country.

Dirr earned his bachelor and master of science degrees in horticulture from Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in plant physiology from the University of Massachusetts. Before his 22-year career at the University of Georgia, he taught ornamental horticulture at the University of Illinois, Urbana, and was a Mercer Fellow at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. In 2003, Dirr officially retired from the University of Georgia, but not from research and plant development. He became a founding partner of Plant Introductions, Inc. which breeds, evaluates and introduces new woody and herbaceous plants for the nursery industry at facilities in Watkinsville, Ga.

For more information about Arbor Day, contact Bea Walters Smith at (864) 503-5235 or bwsmith@uscupstate.edu, or go online to www.uscupstate.edu/arborday.