Garden Poetry Contest winners focus on spring revival

Timothy Kaler, 52, poses in a tree holding

Timothy Kaler, 52, poses in a tree holding a show shovel and garden hoe in the backyard of his Brentwood home, June 8, 2014. He was the first place winner in Newsday's 6th Annual Garden Poetry Contest. (Credit: Heather Walsh)

On Mother's Day, I asked readers to participate in the sixth annual Garden Poetry Contest, expressing their heartfelt feelings about the new season in the wake of the brutal winter of 2013-14. Scores of you waxed poetic about shoveling mulch instead of snow, finally anticipating homegrown produce and welcoming the first crocus of the year.

You rhymed, haikued and even slammed. And so, today, on Father's Day, as I send best wishes to all the dads reading, I also share the joy of the best garden poetry of the year.

FIRST PLACE
Tim Kaler, Brentwood
Seasonal Smile

Oh the insanity of old man winter, inscrutably

Rendering such a forecast brutal, a winter's grip frugal

Yet, a mother lode of shoveled snow gladly traded for a hoe

Autumn's retiring of Jack Straw, hibernating Jack Frost thaw

Earthwork's magic hocus-pocus, February's May crocus

Counting on county fair produce from nature's bounty profuse

See the lively dance of the bumblebee, ask quizzically

How such quiddity is brought forth with its buzzing melody

Buds emerge in trees pillowy, soon relaxing willowy

Simply beautiful rose petal wimples, my true love's dimples

SECOND PLACE
Peter J. Muscianisi, Bayville

Gone are the snowdrifts, shovels and salt

Gone are the accidents that weren't our fault

Gone are the icicles that hung from our roof

Gone is the winter and I'll show you the proof:

The weatherman's promising sunshine galore!

With temperatures soaring to 80 or more!

So open your windows,

Turn off your heat,

Old man winter went down in defeat!

THIRD PLACE
Elaine Anne Pasquali, Dix Hills
Dandelions

Our winter was very harsh indeed

and so I welcomed the first dandelion

as a pretty wild flower, not as a weed

Soon there was another and yet another

I gathered them into a small nosegay

just as I had done for my mother

Winter had finally thawed into Spring

and with it the oft-defiled dandelion

had made my heart joyfully sing

RUNNERS-UP

• Catherine Ann Fiorillo, Levittown
Spring Indeed

Earth is Furious -- are you

curious?

below zero ice and snow

took its toll

worries of frostbite

and losing life and limb

now Spring begins . . .

new green life sprouting out

of my garden

exciting me to my knees

to weed like never before

why ignore what is pure?

Earth is Furious -- are you

curious?

Pastel tulips have a chance

to dance

but we poison the lawn

with pesticide

Is this a solution?

Cause more pollution?

Earn this Spring?

Or learn some things?

purify the earth -- for a rebirth

is that clarity before

we lose gravity?

and float away . . . ???

-----

• Janet Biegel, Plainview

As I lay in bed at night

listening to the quiet,

I could almost hear the sound

of a riot!

As the ground thaws from

the Winter's cold,

and Spring is about to unfold --

One could almost hear

the outburst of thunder,

that's just about when I begin

to wonder:

Could it be the earth beneath

my feet?

screaming out -- "No more

snow -- no more sleet!

It's certainly time for us

flowers to sprout --

then raise our heads and begin

to shout:

We finally made it through

so many seasons,"

-- I guess it was God who had

all His reasons.

-----

• Martha Paltzik, Brookville

Spring training report: What we've done to earn a winning season

Reviewed the roster of seeds

i'd sown

to see what loved

our hardiness zone

signed a rookie honeysuckle

unafraid of snow

dropped the workhorse

mandevilla which i did

outgrow

banished ajuga for steroid use

along with pushy sedum

threw garlic mustard

off the team: this year i

finally beat him

examined losses to local

teams: the squirrels won

the tulips

to scout new plants,

made nursery trips

and welcomed back our loyal

fans undeterred by cold:

violets and daffodils,

like amethyst and gold

-----

• Helene Wallenstein, Oceanside

I've always loved to garden.

I've done it all my life.

I taught Herb all my gardening

tricks

When I became his wife.

Now I can polish all my nails

And let them dry with care.

I point a crimson fingernail

and say,

"Just plant it over there."

HONORABLE MENTIONS

• Margaret Hanan, Rockville Centre
GIRLFRIENDS

Veronica, Myrtle and creeping Jenny

Susan, Iris, Rozanne and Daisy

All of my girlfriends have reappeared

How I have missed their colors so dear

Hidden by leaves, protected from frost

Now I rejoice that they were not lost

Returning much joy back into my heart

I delight that my friends and I did not part

-----

• Jerry Bilinski, Riverhead

This winter I froze my Azaleas off!

The cold put a hold on my bulbs.

Snow caused my seeds to not sow.

Cold caused my Roses to implode.

So cold that I froze my beach grass off.

The weather was hostile to my Hostas.

While Palms just stayed calm indoors.

My Lilies were very chilly.

The Gladiolus are glad winter's over.

Only the holly stayed jolly this winter.

-----

• Don Allen, Amity Harbor
Earned it!"

My garden soil still had Sandy's salt

So I added gypsum then I churned it

Jessica D showed everyone this garden tip.

As you can see I learned it.

I read her column looking for soil tips.

Read it twice when her topic concerned it.

Now my garden grows just fine

I think I can say I earned it.

REJOICE!

Silent Spring of 2013

My garden organically dead.

Soil remediation a drudgery for the entire year ahead.

Sandy had sown my garden with salt, hard labors and

an aching back.

Adding soil amendments and chemicals I make up for nature's lack.

2014 arrives with a single crocus and I rejoice,

rather than cry over the hundreds that are no more.

-----

• Eileen Melia Hession, Long Beach
The Change of Season

As far as winter weather goes I find it has its highs and lows.

Although I'm glad the snow is gone

I think it helped hydrate my lawn.

And on those days with sleet and hail  I ordered bulbs and seeds by mail.

I cleaned my tools, planned garden plots, I washed up all my flower pots,

And now it's Spring and warm, and so I'm back outside making things grow.

-----

• Karl O'Leary, Port Jefferson
More of Me

All season long your cold penetrated my home.

But I kept fighting.

Your chill at night, the frost that lingered in the air,

But I kept fighting.

For it is my time now;

To rise from my winter cellar.

And extend my long limbs;

To offer blossoming colors for all to see.

I have fought and won valiantly.

I am more than just a tree.

-----

• Terri Donahue, Center Moriches
A Welcomed Surprise!

As I accepted the brutality of Nature's winter show,

I gladly shoveled over and over the deep piles of snow.

I braved the fierce, freezing temperatures of each stormy blast

'Cause I knew in my heart that this COULDN'T last!

I knew that soon I'd be seeing the spring.

I'd be shoveling mulch with much rejoicing.

And then it happened, right before my eyes!

I received God's gift, a welcomed surprise!

There in my garden just popping its head,

Was the bud of a daffodil, in my flower bed.

BEST OF THE REST

• Joan Schnell Cooke, Garden City

It's time once again to dig in the dirt

I won't be shoveling snow so my back won't hurt

Fungus is an endless battle, the aphids are, too

But I wouldn't miss a homegrown tomato for anything

Would you?

-----

• Linda Bartunek, Calverton

Mom you are no longer here

Still your love of flowers remains

Look down see the bouncing tangerine geum

planted for you and for me . . .

to remember

-----

• Paula Camacho, Farmingdale
Why fight it

My next garden will be full of ground ivy, mugwort, yellow nutsedge.

I will troll neighbors' garbage bins for dandelions, crabgrass, the rare kudzu.

One corner of my yard will be designated the lambsquarters.

I will place a flag next to the American burnweed and birds will sing to me

for planting the common pokeweed that yields the purple berries they like to eat.

Instead of fighting the weeds I will let them fight themselves and before

the bittersweet nightshade takes over on the battlefield of my back yard

I will sit sipping dandelion wine, munch on the edible young leaves

of the lambsquarters and let the neighbors think I am as nutty

as the yellow nutsedge because both of us will prove very hard to remove.

-----

• Jane Shelley, Wantagh

Good-bye brutal winter, your grip was too strong!

Your leaving was heralded by the robins' sweet song.

The once snow covered lawns, now burst with green,

Even with dandelions, a welcome sight seen!

Dull dreary days, gray, icy and white,

Replaced by vibrant florals, what a delight!

That bone chilling weather?

There's not a trace!

It's time to savor the garden

In spring's warm embrace!

-----

• Kathy Levine, Long Beach
No complaints!

Seeding, raking, mulching, planting

Mowing, edging, now I'm panting.

I sometimes moan about garden chores

But this year, I'll complain no more.

For last summer Mother Nature was tired

From the storm that left our gardens mired.

The hydrangeas wilted, no roses would grow.

Saltwater-logged bushes just had to go.

But this spring's blooms are so lush and so graceful

That when there's work to be done, I'm exceedingly grateful.

-----

• John Mercurio, Center Moriches
We've earned it!

Face caressed in rays of light

Crystalline stalactites grudgingly bequeath integrity

Winter remnants cannot persevere

Seasonal momentum shift, unrelenting contest of will

Eruptions of earth, daffodil serenade

Brilliant colors through flurry of white

Hope bolsters anticipation

Spring, worth the wait

-----

• Debra North, East Meadow
Armagarden

The ice, the snow

The cold winds blow

across my battered pots and windowboxes,

The clock says March

but still the days are dark --

The 18-wheeler winter windchill

has doomed the daffodils to roadkill

Heavy white gloved snow sleeves

strangle frail fig trees, while

Freezing sleet at a slant

shreds a bay leaf plant

once fragrant and alive --

Garden casualties

waiting for the cavalry

Fresh horses

Fertilizer

And the healing sun to rise . . .

-----

• Dan McDonald, Hicksville
Prelude to Spring

In a little while, in the blink of HIS eye,

As lengthening days foster the verdure of summer,

Diminutive terns will come again to play tag with ocean waves.

Then, with winter behind us, we will travel once more

And rejoice in the adventure of life.

But alas, the desolation of winter remains heavy upon us,

The oppressiveness of February yet to be conquered.

Amidst this season of barrenness

I await with you in joyful anticipation,

Natures defiance -- the blooming of the snow crocus.

-----

• Charlene Knadle, Dix Hills
Women

Mother Nature has . . . as many wiles

as any woman of the world

she clothes herself in countless styles

and wears her hair now straight, now curled.

In coldest mood she knocks 'em dead

and makes it seem they can't recover

but back they come with smiles instead

bearing blossoms like a lover.

I ruin her ways in heedless measure

to bring in bouquets at my pleasure.

-----

• Audrey McHugh, Babylon Village
On Spring

Oh, can it be that white as snow,

Whose flakes embrace a soft rainbow,

Has given up to better show,

How crocus sweet and dainty grow

Upon the frozen ground bestow

A better life, more than we know,

Of hope and love and future past

Of time again to all outlast,

A Spring to break our Winter fast

Of days despondent, darkness cast.

-----

• Ann K. Brusca, Middle Island
Ahhhh Spring!

Spring is finally here, we feared it never would arrive,

We've just been through a winter, I thought, we wouldn't survive.

But now my garden's coming up I can't contain myself,

Time to get my gardening tools and implements off the shelf.

My hostas are starting to pop up, my lilies of the valley too,

Time to start my plantings without further ado.

Next month my lilacs will start to flower,

Ah won't that make a fragrant bower!

How I long for my azaleas how their showy blossoms bloom,

There are so many things I want to plant, I hope I can find room!

-----

• Sanford H. Weinberg, Plainview
Delightful Springtime

Presently, colorful crocus, daffodils and amaryllis are awakening

And emerging from the harsh winter thru the dark crusts of soil

Proclaiming the elegant and exquisite season of Spring

Harmoniously, trees of all varieties are trumpeting their renewal

by displaying multitudes of colorful flowers, white, pink red and yellow

And bushes of early forsythia are exhibiting hues of bright yellow.

Let us all follow nature's transition by coming alive from a grim

cold winter and devolve into a resurgence of vibrant warmth and energy.

A joyous welcome to our comforting season of Spring.

-----

• Maria Starace, Sea Cliff
Gardener's Haiku

New York's worst winter

Now a distant memory

Hearts and flowers sing!

-----

• Lisa Townsend, Riverhead

Snow dust twinkling in the sunlight

as I look out across a frosted field.

The steam from my tea cup

forming a swirling vortex

against the cold pane.

I have the winter blues.

I feel it in my bones . . .

longing for the spring bringing new life.

I sigh.

It isn't coming yet.

The groundhog told me so.

So, I sit and settle in, a forlorn look

out across the snow drifts

that go on to reach eternity.

-----

• Judith H. Ehrbar, Northport
Ode to Spring

Mother Nature's hocus-pocus

Revives the tulip and the crocus

And the tulip and the jonquil,

As the days become more tranquil.

Hail the neon pink azalea,

Forsythia in full regalia.

Flowering dogwood's pastel riot

Brings such pleasure when we spy it.

And so the diva of the year

Makes her star appearance here!

-----

• Diane Sciacchitano, North Massapequa

Could it be we withstood the test

A harsh winter memory put to rest

Out come the spades and garden gloves

Line up those packets of seeds that we love

Eggplant, tomatoes, parsley and beans

Can hardly wait for the sighting of green

Weeds may invade for no special reason

But that won't dampen my expectation

For this most fruitful and glorious season

-----

• Linda J. Sardone, Sound Beach
A May Observation

As I glower in a field without flower

Where grass once shimmered about

Dandelion puffs drift thru the air

While moss and mushrooms sprout.

A four-leaf clover meets my eye

I pick it carefully

A sprout once tiny only last week

Has begun to resemble a tree!