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Eric Grissell — a member of the Garden Writers Association as well as a half dozen entomological and horticultural societies — has written two books of essays on gardening and a popular book entitled Insects and Gardens. His latest book, Bees, Wasps, and Ants: The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Gardens, examines the undeniably important role these often maligned insects play in our lives and gardens.
Grissell grew up in San Francisco where he acquired the basics of gardening at an early age. Many of his youthful exploits (such as stalking salamanders at night and working in neighborhood gardens to supplement his meager allowance) were touched upon in his first book, Thyme on My Hands, published by Timber Press in 1987.
Torn between the seemingly artificial world of gardens and the natural world of insects, Grissell entered the University of California, Davis, where he ultimately decided to major in entomology with a minor in botany. His postgraduate research centered on the systematics of predatory and parasitic wasps. Grissell went on to work for three decades as a research entomologist, first with the Florida Department of Agriculture, then with the United States Department of Agriculture in the Systematic Entomology Laboratory. As well as conducting research trips and publishing a hundred scientific papers, Grissell was in charge of curating and building sections of the Smithsonian's insect collection. In addition, he co-taught a biennial, week-long workshop in parasitic wasps over a 22-year period, was a cofounding member of the International Society of Hymenopterists, and served as editor of the Journal of Hymenoptera Research for seven years.
After having gardened in Mediterranean, subtropical, and temperate climates, Eric now practices what he refers to as Darwinian Victory Gardening in the high desert grasslands of southeastern Arizona. According to the principles of DVG, anything that survives in his garden is considered a victory. Even weeds.