I can remember very clearly the day I realized gardening had changed me. I was picking tomatoes when I saw a huge green tomato hornworm with little white bumps on it lying dormant on a leaf. A few months earlier I’d planted dill in hopes of attracting beneficial insects like wasps that are parasitic on hornworms.

A female parasitic wasp had laid her eggs just under the skin of the hornworm. These eggs hatched under the hornworm's skin and the larvae fed inside on the hornworm. When ready to pupate they chewed their way out through the skin, spun their cocoons attached to the hornworm's back, and shortly after that, emerged as adult wasps looking for new hornworms to parasitize. 

Needless to say, this blew my mind.

It was then that I realized that gardening had completely changed the way I viewed nature and its complex but beautiful processes and systems. 

All without my knowing, gardening had helped me slow down and notice things. As a result, I was more mindful of my surroundings. Being more mindful brought all kids of benefits like appreciation and gratitude—something I wrote about in an earlier post. It also cultivated my natural sense of curiosity and wonder.

All of these traits have served me well over the years—with plants and people alike. And when I feel like I need to re-connect and restore I head straight for the garden. It is such a gift to have a garden to retreat to. I wish this for everyone.

How has gardening changed your life? I'd love to hear your story. 

April is KidsGarden Month. And we’re inviting you to tell us how #GardeningChangesLives.

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