Professor J. Philip Grime is one of the UK’s most influential, and controversial, plant ecologists. Phil is a Fellow of The Royal Society, and also a member of the Dutch Royal Society, and has received numerous awards including The Marsh Award, Honorary membership of the BES and ESA, and the Alexander von Humboldt Award. In recognition of his many achievements we have collected together 15 of his most influential papers in the Journal of Ecology as a Virtual Issue: all the papers have been made free to access. To give some background to the papers Phil has very kindly written a post for the Journal of Ecology blog, which briefly introduces Phil’s research approach and puts the papers in context. There are some great photographs of the people, places and various experiments at the end of the post. In addition to this there is also a podcast where Phil reflects on his career and the changes in ecology over the last 50 years - he also answers several questions sent in via Twitter.