[starred review] Auders, Aris G. & Derek P. Spicer. Encyclopedia of Conifers: A Comprehensive Guide to Cultivars and Species. 2 vols. Royal Horticultural Society & Kingsblue. 2014. 1507p. illus. ISBN 9781907057151. $269. REF
With its oversize volumes coming in at several pounds each, this guide to conifers truly has earned the modifier "comprehensive." With more than 5,000 photographs taken specifically for the publication, all 615 species of conifers are covered, with an additional 8,000 cultivars thrown in for good measure. Auders, a conifer collector and photographer, and Spicer, chairman of the British Conifer Society, recognizing that conifers are much more than a simple arrangement of needles on branches, have also included spectacular images of conifer pollen cones and seed cones, showing fully the amazing variety and beauty that is found in this huge grouping of plants of the subclasses Pinidae, Ginkgoidae, Cycadidae, and Gnetidae. Entries are neatly arranged with descriptions that include origins and dates; the authors also take the useful further step of including major nurseries and conifer collectors who can be relied upon to supply many of the plants contained within.
VERDICT Such a detailed work comprised of such beautiful photographs would normally be prohibitively expensive, yet the cost is well within the affordable realm for most libraries. Both home gardeners who value the scientifically accurate and detailed as well as horticultural professionals would truly benefit from this up-to-date and comprehensive labor of love, which will be worth acquiring. Those who teach botanical courses within higher education could also find this extremely useful.