Garden Detective: Poetry contest winners

Eileen Hession took the top honor in the

Eileen Hession took the top honor in the 2013 poetry contest for her topical "Impatiens Replacements." She gardens outside her home in Long Beach. (May 31, 2013) (Credit: Yana Paskova)

Jessica Damiano

Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist Jessica Damiano

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more

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Last month I asked readers to let their creative writing juices flow. The instructions were simple: Send in an original poem of exactly seven lines that embraces seven things about your garden.

I was awestruck by how many local gardeners answered my call, and equally impressed by how much heart and soul was put into each of the beautiful works I received that embodied this year's contest theme: Lucky Seven. Some entries were amusing, others sentimental, and all a pleasure to read. Picking the winners wasn't easy (I spent Memorial Day weekend hemming and hawing), as every submission was deserving of an honor.

Eileen Melia Hession rose to the top of the heap with her lament, "Impatiens Replacements." Sanford H. Weinberg takes second place for "Ode to Nature's Flowers." And in third place we have Rosalie Silverman for her ode "Seven Months." Everyone else gets a well-deserved Garden Detective high-five! Well played, readers!

GRAND PRIZE: Eileen Melia Hession, Long Beach

"Impatiens Replacements"

The Impatiens respite: what a fuss!

This flower was ubiquitous,

Now its leggy stem and moldy leaf

Is causing quite a lot of grief!

Daisy? Lilac? Rose? Phlox? Mum?

Tulip? Sweet pea? ... this is dumb!

Fellow gardeners, hear my rant: Nothing can supplant this plant.

_____

SECOND PLACE: Sanford H. Weinberg, Plainview

"Ode to Nature's Flowers"Observing my garden of exquisite flowers basking in the bright sun

I tremble with joy and contentment at the reflection of jewel-toned mallows

And the fluttering of monarchs to them drawn. My eyes feast complacently upon the myriad

Colors of zinnia, orange, purple, pink and white, mauve snapdragons, violet angelonia,

Pretty calibrachoa and golden marigolds. I breathe deeply and with joyful appetite

The sweet fragrance of lantana, hues of red, yellow and lavender, which make my heart go

Aflutter. Thank God for the opportunity to enjoy the delights of flowers.

_____

THIRD PLACE: Rosalie Silverman, Commack

"Seven Months"

January, plan the new garden

February, I watch the snows mound

March, peruse the garden catalogs

April, waiting for the chill to pass

May, plant, plant, plant

June, water, water, water

July, dinner salads with crisp garden vegetables.

_____

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Daffodils come first, both yellow and white, bringing Spring's early delight.

Tulips come second, in bunches so pleasant.

Pansies are silly, but handy when chilly.

Azaleas my favorite, hardy and heavenly.

Ornamental Grasses, some growing fast, others like molasses.

Gladiolus, so gorgeous creating flowers through August.

Ode to my old friend Impatiens, I will wait for your return with great patience!

--Jerry Bilinski, Riverhead

"Enchanted Garden"

For miracles to happen, please observe the grace my Japanese

Maple drapes upon lace ferns, where my cat stalks the peace she yearns

within my garden's foliage, now poised upon the holy edge

of beauty, near where God will sway you with his feathered astilbe,

whose delicacy steals the focus from life's cycle claiming crocus

within the aura of lilac, where there is nothing that I lack

upon my deck, beneath my pine, absorbing wonder, sipping wine.

--Ken Fisher, Franklin Square

"Gardens: God's Reason the World Goes On"In my garden I plant some seeds

Make sure the soil is free of weeds.

Check that the soil gets the water it needs

And I wait and see where all this leads

The flowers bud and the leaves grow

The colors present an awesome show

God's creations give my soul a glow.

-- Frances Pergolizzi, West Babylon

_____

MOST AMUSING

Sandy

Garden dead

"No, I'm not!"

What's that green thing poking up?

Oriental Lilies

Rose bush, too!

Sandy-garden middle finger to you!

--Lillian Baum, Long Beach

"Six I Love and One I Have Learned to Accept"

My roaming gnome has hit the road.

He took along my garden toad.

The creeping phlox has crept away,

And rose and daisy wouldn't stay.

My heather's left for hither and yon.

The mole is back, my garden is gone.

Curses!

-- Edie Emeritz, Medford

"Seven Steps to a Successful Garden"

One master plan

Two wheelbarrow loads of compost

Three packets of seeds

Four trays of plants

Five digging tools

Six hours of planting and watering

Seven hours of sleep to recuperate!

--Patricia Barker, Uniondale

"I Love"

I love growing melons and berries for dessert.

I love compost and manure.

I love digging in the dirt.

I love the smell of fresh-tilled soil.

I love the task of planting seeds.

Did you notice when listing the seven things I love,

I didn't mention weeds?

--Donald E. Allen, Amity Harbor

_____

MOST TRIUMPHANT

Sandy soil.

Sand-loving plants.

Sandy Storm wipes them out.

Start all over.

Sow my seeds.

Springtime showers.

Sprouting sand-loving plants.

--Maura McCabe, Freeport

_____

MOST OPTIMISTIC

"If My Tomatoes Only Knew!"

Competing in the Tomato Challenge since 2006

My beefsteaks and bigboys are feeling the 7-year itch

My tomatoes are all so big and so round

No wicked witch potion all naturally grown from my ground

I wait and I watch as they ripen and grow

Finally becoming the 2013 Tomato Queen

Will make a really great show!

--Janet Hart, Lindenhurst

_____

THE BEST OF THE REST

"My Picture Book Garden"

On page one of my picture book are colorful flowers wherever you look

Page two illustrates the work it takes to sow those flowers and make them grow

A deep red azalea and a blooming dogwood tree can be found on page three

Pictures of my pups digging paw over paw are found on page number four

Butterflies dance among the flowers on page five and make my garden even more alive

Page six shows a robin from blue egg to fledgling, all done without my meddling

Lastly, me relaxing in my garden heaven is found on page number seven

--Elaine Anne Pasquali, Dix Hills

Always impatient to plant every spring

Even though gardening isn't really my thing.

Now you're gone because of a disease.

You were great in the shade.

I took care of you with ease.

Our first year apart, we miss you already.

I hope to find a replacement, as pretty and steady.

--Peter Koutsoukos, Malverne

I am older, I won't fool you

But my plants don't seem to care

I sit upon my rolling stool

And plant them everywhere

So love the Spring, Enjoy the Fall

Let Summer thrill you too

When winter comes only memories will do

--Rosalie Yuknis, Stony Brook

I put you in the ground to grow. You really spread your roots

I didn't want to say goodbye or give you the boot.

I simply had to confine you to pots and other things

I snip you for my summer tea, smash and muddle you for a mojito spree.

I rub your leaves together ... mmmnnn you really smell so sweet.

I toss you in my Sunday sauce ... for that you can't be beat.

I know summer can't be far behind ... Yes I love you, mint ... dear little herb of mine.

--Maria R. DiBenedetto, Wantagh

“Ode to Seven Annuals”

Showstar Melampodium basking in the sun,

Torenia the Clown in clusters are fun.

Million bell petunias cascading in pots,

Vinca color my window box.

New Guinea Impatiens never try mine,

Scarlet Begonias in shade or shine.

Dahlias do dazzle . .. It’s summertime!

--Mark Keller, Garden City

“My Garden”

Love to plant and watch things grow — it sometimes seems so very slow;

Love the Spring and the Summer — it brings lots of fragrant flowers like no other;

Love to catch a rainbow just formed — it never seems to last very long;

Love the butterflies taking a rest — funny when it lands on a little bird’s nest;

Love the sounds of night raindrops falling — keeps me awake til the morning;

Love the vast colors seen by my eyes — feel always pleasantly surprised;

Love to slow down in the hot part of day — oh just remember to water before the next day …

--Dee Lodato, West Babylon

“Lucky Seven”

Hydrangeas, with their heavenly blue snowball appearance and velvety allure, make me feel deeply beautiful and completely couture.

In pink, red and white, my azaleas sport such a color riot that my garden is anything but quiet.

My rhododendrons, which are truly a gift from heaven, always give me angelic and spiritual pleasure beyond measure — twenty-four/seven.

Peonies, a joy to behold, fill me with happiness beyond compare and keep me tending them with the most gentle care.

The beautiful yellow hue of my forsythias, which shine brighter than the sun, continually make me think of having nonstop fun.

Lilacs, with their soft shade of lavender and precious fragrance, add a luscious essence so sweet; thus making my garden joyously complete.

My rose bushes, while dispensing beauty and love, shower me with God’s grace and never fail to put a smile on my face.

--Susan Galligan, Amityville

“Garden Treasure”

It’s one of the seven deadly grins, as I crush a grub or Gypsy Moth that spins.

The seventh month, July, wish I, that in all the universe, weeds must die.

The seventh day of rest is not, as the call to the wild, to garden, beckons.

‘Twas the seventh year of life, I watched, as Father’s corn was planted.

Which, 24/7 is why, I never fail to try to duplicate that twinkle, his eye.

Pulling radish from the earth, greater gift than all of heaven’s mirth.

The gold of garden’s treasures, true, the garden, promised, source of birth.

--Michael Albert, Port Jefferson

“Seven Feet Seven Inches”

My gardening bed is all of seven feet

How I can’t wait for my hands and soil to meet

Seven types of tomatoes surely can’t be beat

I have a thumb that’s brown, so this is truly a feat

Among the crop are beefsteak and cherries oh so sweet

Weeding and feeding, watering and some peat

Welcome to my garden . . . all of seven feet

--Jacquie Johnson, Lynbrook

“Lucky Seven”

Begonias, marigolds, tomatoes and squash oh my . . .

What else should we give a try?

Mommy, daddy and daughters plant away . . .

What better way to pass the day.

This Mother’s Day tradition we shall never break . . .

As we all wonder “grow already for goodness sake!”

Patience my girls . . . Mother Nature will do the rest.

--Renee Mancuso, West Babylon

“Rustler in the Garden”

The nomenclature doesn’t truly matter.

Somewhere it found its own pocket of earth

A lacy-leafed fern that added not an ounce of color.

Obdurate root sprouted its leaves from the moist soil

Like an Alfalfa cowlick of mint green,

Pushed aside the variegated leaves of a neighbor and

Trumpeted its independence.

--Sy Roth, Mount Sinai

“All Eyes On Me”

Black-eyed Susan, looking at me.

Greetings from the Buzzing Bee

Swooshing birds and butterflies,

Wave to me as they fly by.

Dripping, Juicy Berry Tree

Some for the Birds and some for me.

And my garden’s sound? A Symphony.

--Carmen Rose Chianese, Sound Beach

Compost, soil & shovel work, to compose a comfy bed

Visions of the perfect plants dance within our head

We wish for sun and pray for rain

Our backs they ache and twitch in pain

Oh what is it we wish to gain

Undaunted though we plow ahead, no matter what it takes

With dreams of heirlooms big and red, next to our grilled steaks

--Peter Berdan, Center Moriches

“The 7th Garden”

I finally caught April, the twit, before it came sniveling and strewing the seeds of weeds

A garden attempt every year for seven to finally worm my fingers in the soil and know the dark moods from the cheery buds

Caked-dirt of earth beneath my nails, bees charmed by new beginnings, petal by petal, I’m set for the magical unfolding

I’ll conjure the lilies laced lilt, brace for the peonies pop, address the regal roses correct as I will the twists

of the wisteria toward the brambles that once stuck in my hair’s tangles before I saw to gather it back

Then I’ll yield to the cool, edible October, hanging round and high, just shy of seven months above my succulent plenty

to look at, to share, to taste, and to say, “Look what I have made — didn’<NO><NO1>t we all get lucky.”

--Noreen McAllister-Bifulco, Port Jefferson Station

“Dances With Flowers”

With Dreams of Lovely Gardens, With Strategic Plans all Set.

We — Patient and Kind, New York Gardeners — Are Ready to Get,

The Most Astounding Gardens — that One Has ever Met!

With our Fearless Leader — Garden Detective Jessica Damiano,

With her Loving Guidance, and our Heartfelt Prayers,

Our Visions of Landscape Beauty

Await our Awestruck Stares!”

--N. Anne Margaret, Holtsville

“Seven Sisters”

Seven sisters in crooked rows

Lavender, lilac and beautiful rose

Peony, tulip and daffodil

Lovely ladies, my heart be still

Stately blossoms proudly stand

Stargazer lily, none other so grand

Heavenly scents waft over land.

--Linda Frohlinger, Massapequa

“My Garden”

Ah, lilacs blooming bring a smile, that makes me linger here awhile.

Roses budding . . . what a joy to see, My Garden coming alive for me.

My Hostas ring around my trees, their leaves are quivering in the breeze.

Daylilies in profusion grow, putting on their colorful show . ..

Lilies of the Valley and my Butterfly Bush always cause me a bit of a rush

But, when I see my rosy Azalea, Now that’s a plant that’ll never fail ya! and

When I get a whiff of my Honeysuckle vine, it’s simply divine!

Ann Brusca, Middle Island

“Broccoli Rabe”

Start by pulling off the broccoli rabe leaves

and fry with olive oil and garlic, please

Then eat the broccoli rabe with Italian bread

or make a broccoli rabe omelet instead

Try adding broccoli rabe to soups and stews

or toss pasta with broccoli rabe, now that’s news

Broccoli raab can’t be beat for a real taste treat

--Elaine Anne Pasquali, Dix Hills

“Daffodil Septet”

Daffodil

Narcissistic bloom

Spring’s first, bright yellow pinwheel

Towers over the little pansy

Who peeks out of the cool shade

With its monkey-faced

Three petals

--Terri Donahue, Center Moriches

“Nature”

There were gusts of wind, dust storms, summer drought

Rationing and a limit, paper plates, less baths, for animal only

I put away water every day in a tank for my garden to feast on

My neighbors complained that I was cheating, used a magical well

I protested that I’ve been saving what was not used underground

So to the water, sunlight, weeding, mulching, right temperature, to the pick

Green, yellow, red hot peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, spices, squash, pumpkin

--Harward Steven Brown, Westbury

Goodbye to the dreary days when the garden was so bare

Spring brought back the happy days with flowers everywhere

The crocus and the daffodils and tulips bloom with glee

Showing their brilliant colors and shouting “look at me”

Next on stage come peony, lily, dahlia and rose

A quartet of beauty defying human prose

Their show is short but have no fear, they promise to come back next year

--Dorothy Carbo, Wappingers Falls

“(Lost In) Plant Space”

There are so many more, here are just a few gardening tools needed to do what you do

1. Gloves — Rough, callous hands are something that nobody loves

to protect them in your work you can use gloves.

2. Rake — Cultivation’s an art to make soil fertile, smoothing ground without a rake would

be futile.

3. Hoe — A hoe is an implement everyone needs til the end of time to help rid us of weeds.

4. Pitchfork — For loosening dirt and to aerate the soil use a pitchfork, a tool to lessen your toil.

5. Spade — I know it’s been said that a spade is a spade how on earth without, can you get

your bed made?

6. Wheelbarrow — From compost pile to garden will leave a gulch running a wheelbarrow’s

best for mixing mulch.

7. Hose — with some sunshine, nutrients, water and care in no time you’ll see the

bulbs bursting in air!

--Tim Kaler, Brentwood

“Garden of Gratitude”

When irises borrowed from my mom’s garden bloom

When clusters of saffron daylilies loom

When forsythia and bell-like foxglove stand tall

When the fragrance of trellised roses calls

When grape hyacinths surround a stone cherub with glee

When hollies sprout bright new berries, you’ll see

The garden is Spring’s greatest glory.

--Kathy Levine, Long Beach

“My Garden — May 14”

Spirea’s veil is dingy; the tulip’s out of town.

The dogwood’s creamy petal

Has an edge of rusty brown.

But dainty Miss Ajuga wears

A dress of cobalt blue,

And salmon pink azalea

Blazes next to loyal yew.
--Sara Jane Witkin Berman, East Williston