Published: 03 October 2012
The RHS Encyclopedia of Conifers
There are few reference books that have ever stopped me in my tracks and made me sit down and study them. When I opened the package containing these two volumes however, that is exactly what happened.

Volume 1
To say that this new publication is full of information would be the understatement of the year. For those of us who have a real interest in conifers, these two books are what we have been waiting a long time for.
 
Authors Derek Spicer and Aris G. Auders have spent many years gathering detailed information relating to conifer species and the many thousands of introductions. This alone is a herculean task considering the complexity of this vast plant group and the need to clarify the thousands of cultivars introduced from around the world over previous years.
 
A few interesting statistics about these two books; they contain detailed information on all 615 known conifer species and over 8000 cultivars with over 5000 images, all contained in 2286 beautifully printed pages. Both volumes weigh in at several kilograms.

The 5,000 images included in the two volumes have been taken by Dr Aris G. Auders and are of great clarity and show the detail necessary for correct identification. It is interesting to read that he travelled from Japan to the USA and all around Europe to find good examples of known plants and often took dozens of pictures in different seasons and light conditions to ensure an accurate record was available for publication on each plant. There are certain plants that have several images at two or more stages of maturity at different locations, this again shows the attention to detail the authors have taken to ensure the reader is well informed. The index of 121 different photographic locations is in itself interesting reading as it includes many of the finest conifer collections in the world, useful when planning a plantsmans holiday trip!

Co-Author Derek Spicer holds volume 2 of the new RHS Encyclopedia of Conifers.

The introduction in Volume 1 contains valuable notes on the botanical classification of conifers. This could appear daunting to many readers but it is there to help clarify much of the confusion that surrounds the whole conifer family. The section relating to the origins of dwarf and ornamental cultivars and their descriptions is especially useful.
 
The two volumes are laid out to cover the conifer range alphabetically; Volume 1 covers Abies to Picea while volume 2 includes Pilgerodendron to Xanthcyparis.
 
Once the format of the books is grasped it is straightforward to cross reference each plant entry to the correct images and likewise, when reading a text entry, linking across to the images where included. 

Derek P. Spicer and Aris G. Auders

Volume 2

The authors of this tremendous publication are Derek P. Spicer and Aris G. Auders, both internationally known conifer experts and enthusiasts.
 
Derek Spicer is the Proprietor of a specialist wholesale conifer nursery in Leicestershire and has an MSc in plant taxonomy, is the founder chairman of the British Conifer Society and is a member of both the RHS Woody Plant Committee and the Advisory Subcommittee on Conifer Registration. 
 
Dr Aris Auders is a conifer collector, photographer and writer. He has one of the largest collections of conifer cultivars in Europe at his home in Giga, Latvia.
 
These two volumes are undoubtedly impressive works, they are serious publications covering one on the most interesting, and important plant groups on the planet, for conifer enthusiasts they must surely go on their list of most wanted books.

 

Publishing details:
The RHS Encyclopedia of Conifers, a Comprehensive Guide to Cultivars and Species 
Published by Kingsblue Publishing Ltd
ISBN - 9781907057151
Reported by Chris Allen  
   
 

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