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Insects and Gardens: In Pursuit of a Garden Ecology Hardcover – Illustrated, October 1, 2001

13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This is a thorough introduction to the biology and ecology of insects commonly found in North American gardens, as well as a guide to the principles of ecologically-sound gardening. Grissell, a research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, emphasizes that insects, as well as other invertebrates, play key roles in maintaining a garden's ecological balance; furthermore, he advocates that gardens be managed as balanced, biologically diverse "naturalistic" systems, since they are, for the gardener, more enjoyable and easier to maintain. The text is lengthy but engaging, and a very extensive list of additional readings is provided. The accompanying close-up of insects and other creatures and other photographs are beautifully composed and illustrate the text well. A good complement to other natural gardening books, such as Natural Gardening, edited by John K. Boring and others (Time-Life, 1996); highly recommended for all gardening collections. Brian Lym, City Coll. Lib. of San Francisco
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gardeners may love butterflies, but Grissell stresses a far more encompassing point of view--one that welcomes myriad insects into our cultivated spaces. With a captivating blend of humor and candor, this research entomologist describes in detail the insect orders residing in our gardens and their habits. Who would have guessed that female earwigs protect their eggs until they hatch? Next, Grissell looks at ecological aspects of gardening as he puts forth an erudite overview of the balance and interactions between plants and insects. Maintaining a delightfully readable style, Grissell concludes with an engagingly thought-provoking section devoted to relationships between insects and humans. Goodpasture's fine photographs befit Grissell's effervescent treatise; proposing a laissez-faire attitude that promises to have gardeners with an "us and them" mentality (and a dependence upon chemicals to kill insects) finding new ways of thinking about the tiny and essential critters found ambling about on leaves or creeping about the soil. Alice Joyce
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881925047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881925043
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,121,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Susan McCoy on May 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Insects and Gardens is a double award winning book. It received two of the "Top 10" 2002 Garden Globe Awards presented by the Garden Writers Association of America -- one for Best Book and one for Best Writer, and comes highly recommend by the people who write about gardening. Author Eric Grissell, who is a research entomologist with the USDA, received Best Writing for his clear and concise look at the life of insects and how they "work" to our benefit in our gardens. Publisher Timber Press received the Best Book for an outstanding gardening book overall. Only five individuals and five companies were selected out of a field of more than 300 entries to receive a 2002 Garden Globe Award. The book was selected by a panel of garden communication experts - some Pulitzer Prize winners themselves -- who look for the best books, magazines, writers and photographers in the country. The book was evaluated on accuracy of information, ability to communicate, content, organization, style and originality. If you are interested in the relationships of insects to gardens, to each other and to humans, and how they benefit your garden, this is a must have in your library...
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Janet Allen on June 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I found the ideas in this book to be very exciting and the author to have a great sense of humor. I have a Backyard Wildlife Habitat, but I hadn't given enough thought to the role of insects in my garden. After reading this book, I am looking at my garden with new eyes. The author has provided some very good reasons for gardening the way I tend to do anyway - pack it with as many different plants as possible, leave it a little messy, and don't use pesticides. It's very nice to have this approach validated and especially to know why it seems to work! Now I just have to get an insect identification book ...
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Y. Cunnington on October 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Experienced gardeners are used to the idea that it's impossible (and not the least bit desirable) to have an insect-free garden. The main message of Eric Grissell's book is that a good garden teams with insect life, and that's how it should be.
This is decidedly not a book about how to deal with insect pests. In fact, the author urges us to stop thinking of insects only as enemies to be battled. "Plants and insects have interacted for hundreds of millions of years. Why should we gardeners feel compelled to change this situation in an hour or an afternoon?" he asks.
Grissell's aim is to show gardeners another way. Create a garden filled with variety, he urges. As you might guess, the ordinary yard with its swath of lawn, sprinkling of annuals, evergreen foundation shrubs and tree or two doesn't cut it when it comes to diversity. Instead, he suggests planting as many different plants as you can, and creating a variety of habitats; for example, adding water to the garden creates a new habitat that almost instantly attracts all sorts of life from frogs, toads to dragonflies and birds. If we gardeners achieve diversity, Grissell concludes, "We will have so many plants to think about that no plant will become sacred. And then we will be free of the garden and free to garden."
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Eric Grissell's Insects And Gardens isn't another visual guide to insects in the garden, but an introduction to insect biology and the role of insects in garden ecology. From the various orders of insects and how they reproduce to their interactions in the garden environment, Insects And Gardens provides science readers with an excellent survey. Highly recommended!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lois 'Croakie' on November 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Even if you are a casual gardener and not building a wildlife habitat you should read this book. The first half is a basic Entymology 101 for the gardener with the second half covering practical application. Every gardener should have an understanding of what is happening out there. It should be on every gardeners 'essentials' list. And on top of all of the great information in this book it also is interesting enough to hold your attention.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By RLS on April 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Eric Grissell's _Insects and Gardens_ may be a fair introduction for the gardener beginning to be interested in ecological gardening or concerned about the environment one lives in.

The first one-hundred pages are a quick tour of entomology. Contrary to what Grissell says, the student learns significantly more in an introductory entomology course than what he is able to offer in one-hundred pages. The next several chapters discuss insect-plant and insect-insect interactions, and how a garden with diversity can foster and enhance these relationships. The final sections give high-level suggestions for increasing this diversity in the garden, concluding with a broad overview of insect-human cultural interactions. The concluding chapters were, I thought, tacked-on for extending book length and not particularly relevant. A book on insect garden ecology does not seem to need a cursory look at human-insect cultural milestones.

Personally, I found this to largely be a compilation of gardening ideas gleaned from other books about naturalized gardening. These concepts were then taken to a very high level for presentation to, I assume, a target market of gardeners beginning to consider wildlife-friendly gardens. To someone who has read a few books on naturalized gardening, ecology, or entomology, most of this book should be nothing new. If you are looking for plans or suggestions on gardening more than a few paragraphs long, this book is not for you; it is more a collection of basic entomological and ecological theory and a few habitat creation ideas. As a result, I am somewhat disappointed with its prizes (and praises).

A major shortcoming of the book is Grissell's fairly dismissive attitude toward the concept of native plants.
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