Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print
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.
Tim Kaler, Brentwood
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
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!
Elaine Anne Pasquali, Dix Hills
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
• Catherine Ann Fiorillo, Levittown
Earth is Furious -- are you
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
Pastel tulips have a chance
but we poison the lawn
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
Could it be the earth beneath
screaming out -- "No more
snow -- no more sleet!
It's certainly time for us
flowers to sprout --
then raise our heads and begin
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
to see what loved
our hardiness zone
signed a rookie honeysuckle
unafraid of snow
dropped the workhorse
mandevilla which i did
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
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
When I became his wife.
Now I can polish all my nails
And let them dry with care.
I point a crimson fingernail
"Just plant it over there."
• Margaret Hanan, Rockville Centre
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
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.
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
• 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 . . .
• 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
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
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 --
waiting for the cavalry
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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!