Sternberg and Wilson have shared a lifetime of experience they have gained from studying native trees and their environments throughout North America. They explain how to choose trees appropriate to a particular area and give guidance for either planting new specimens or preserving the existing trees. The bulk of the book contains tree profiles for 650 species and over 500 cultivars. The extensive profiles describe fruit, flower, range (both native and adaptive), culture, best features, and problems.
Along with the detailed profile of each plant, practical information is included to help gardeners select the best plant for their landscape. For example, Sternberg and Wilson write about Smoke trees saying that “This tree can basically be planted and forgotten. It thrives on neglect once established and requires no attention to insect or disease control so long as it is planted in a well-drained soil where Verticillium wilt and root decay fungi are unlikely to bother it.”
The “best season” information also contains interesting insights into each plant. As an example, Sternberg and Wilson say that dwarf hackberry’s best season is winter, when the intricate branching structure can be seen, especially up close and covered by hoarfrost on a cold morning or fall with its nice bright yellow leaf color and orange fruits.