Derek Spicer

President, British Conifer Society
(received April 19, 2012; the full article will be published in the upcoming issue of the British Conifer Society Journal)
What a wonderful surprise this long awaited book was, conifer enthusiasts will be absolutely enthralled. The original concept of photographing all of the Worlds' hardy conifers, which was first conceived many years ago was exciting enough, but these volumes have so much more to offer. Although the photographs are the main focus, there is a massive amount of other information relevant to conifers. The authors do not waste space with detailed botanical descriptions that are available elsewhere but have filled many pages with fascinating facts about the influences of geology, geography, climate and botanical history, thoroughly embracing the natural history of conifers in a way, that as far as I know, has never been published before. The authors obviously write with the authority gleaned from many years experience of seeing conifers in the wild, and have intelligently drawn on information from experts in other fields...
...The illustrations alone more than justify the purchase of the book. Where else can you see photographs, taken in the wild, of these three relatively recently discovered Abies species from southern China: A. beshanzuensis (1975), A. yuanbaoshanensis (1980) and A. ziyuanensis (1980) or the Mexican A. hidalgensis (1995), A. neodurangensis (1994) and A. zapotekensis (1994) as well as Calocedrus rupestris (2004), from Vietnam...
…At first sight this book is all about the photographs but it soon becomes apparent that the authors have also produced a work with a lot of detailed information that is not available elsewhere and is complementary to the two recent, more scientific, publications on conifer species. It consists of two heavy volumes with 1090 pages, 3700 photographs and 1300 illustrations and although appearing expensive is great value for money. Experts, amateurs, the less knowledgeable and all those interested in hardy plants, not just conifers, will find something of value and much that is new and never before presented in one book.
Derek Spicer