Last month, I asked readers to participate in my seventh annual garden poetry contest, and participate they did: I received a record 103 poems. Long Islanders (and some out-of-towners, too) waxed poetic about daffodils, insects and life lessons gleaned from nature.

Gardeners and poets are two exclusive groups, but as it turns out, not mutually exclusive. Both share an appreciation for nature and have a keen sense for finding spiritual beauty in the physical world.

Wendell S. Storms of Levittown took first place for "The Injustice," a powerful and emotional, rhythmical journey that demands reflection, and perhaps re-evaluation of common beliefs and practices.

Janet Lemaire of Wantagh takes second place for her untitled poem about aging. Brief and simple on its surface, the composition reminds us that gardening is good for everyone's soul -- and its joys simply cannot be outgrown.

And Gladys Masucci of Copiague made me smile with her third-place entry, "Vegetation Devastation," a limerick capturing the failures experienced by every gardener at one point or another.

Janet Lemaire of Wantagh came in second place for her untitled poem about aging. Brief and simple on its surface, the composition reminds us that gardening is good for everyone's soul -- and its joys simply cannot be outgrown. Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

These and some of the best of the rest are published below.

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Congratulations to all!

 

FIRST PLACE

The Injustice

Gladys Masucci of Copiague was third place with her entry, "Vegetation Devastation," a limerick capturing the failures experienced by every gardener at one point or another. Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

Wendell S. Storms, Levittown

@Newsday

One of man's erroneous deeds, A foible that correcting needs

Of calling certain flora weeds, While wantonly their growth impedes

Perfecting herbicidal needs, Whose consequence he seldom heeds

With spray and spreader's lethal speeds, A battle where the chemist leads

No victim cries, no victim bleeds, Just merely from the scene recedes

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Yet, -- dandelion to swampgrass reeds, Have reason to be setting seeds

A chain of life, a plant that feeds, In nature's world there are no weeds.

 

SECOND PLACE

Untitled

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Janet Lemaire, Wantagh

I am growing old

But not too old

To enjoy my garden

Where everything is alive

And so am I

 

THIRD PLACE

Vegetation Devastation

Gladys Masucci, Copiague

My garden is now in decline

My tomatoes won't stay on the vine

My string beans lack string

My bluebells won't ring

And my grapes have refused to make wine!

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Carmela Dolce, Medford

With each tug

of the dandelion

so goes the seed . . .

 

Warm Embraces

Margaret Hanan, Rockville Centre

When my heart aches

My garden beckons me.

When my tears flow

My garden soothes me.

When my sadness lingers

My garden cheers me.

Forever grateful am I.

 

Untitled

Joan Ingles, Fresh Meadows

The passing years have left me jaded, but my love for gardening has never faded.

Each year Spring sings her sweet refrain, but more and more my joints complain.

With every motion of my rake my efforts bring another ache.

Planting, mulching, weeding, staking -- must be done with a back that's breaking.

Just when I think my garden is a sad delusion, I see the results in their glorious profusion.

The season's song has again been sung; the joy and the beauty will keep me young.

 

Lessons I Learned From My Plants

Christine Chiarelli, Brooklyn

The path to the light isn't always easy.

Sometimes you have to twist and bend, grow taller, be faster and shine brighter.

And then there's sometimes -- when it looks like all hope is lost,

that you've reached a point you think you can't come back from,

when you have to peel away the layers that are weighing you down,

until you find that tiny survivor deep inside, ever changing and ever growing,

that will guide you back to the light.

 

Ode to Caterpillar

Kathleen J. Aiello, Dix Hills

Caterpillar, Caterpillar

Stroll away

I have been on my knees taking care of my roses most of the day

and would appreciate it if you would slither to another pathway

 

Untitled

Naeges Rothermel, Levittown

fresh green grass, no weed killer

free dandelions

 

Untitled

Ann Mathisen, Port Washington

In the land of Nassau County,

There my dad reaps a bounty.

Big, red ... juicy from the vine,

Yummy tomatoes quite sublime.

Each summer they meet the test,

Then shaken with salt, eaten with zest!

 

Al Fresco

J.R. Turek, East Meadow

No reservations required

Tables and chairs available only for shutterbugs and poets.

Backyard dining, healthy balanced meals for bees and beetles,

butterflies and hummingbirds, bunnies and squirrels.

Aster and goldenrod, larkspur and honeysuckle.

Mother Nature their chef and me their gardener.

 

My Garden of Eatin'

Eileen Melia Hession, Long Beach

The zucchini is taking over! It's spreading across the yard,

It already ate the tomatoes, devoured the peas and Swiss chard.

Its tendrils wind round the green peppers; the lettuce is next, I'm afraid,

The strawberry patch is in danger. What else will this species invade?

The extent of this devastation makes it so easy to see,

That I'd better start eating zucchini, before it starts eating me.

 

Lawn Gone

Mark Keller, Garden City

He who strives for perfection is always disappointed,

And so it goes with my lawn.

Can't cut it enough in Spring,

Browned blades from the summer's sun,

Layered with leaves in the Fall,

Blanketed below Winter's snow.

Fortunately, the grass isn't greener across the road.

 

Garden Wisdom

Donald E. Allen, Amity Harbor

I plant the seeds,

and pull the weeds,

apply water and fertilizer.

I don't exactly know,

what makes things grow.

If I did, I'd be much wiser.

 

Untitled

Lorri Goodman, Baldwin

Rest in peace Brian Moore

As my lilacs blossom every spring

I will think of you

Rest in peace Brian Moore

as a red-winged blackbird soars

above my giant old oak

I will think of you

 

Roses to Remember

Susan Marie Davniero, Lindenhurst

Bouquets throughout the years

When beautiful roses appears

Love blooms of romancing beaus

When giving me a single red rose

Dad's rose garden a show place

Grandpa's roses array on terrace

Art class rose drawing design by ink

Template etching the floral imprint

Heaven sent of white roses grace

Floral bed for Mother's final resting place

Blossoms one's born days of splendor

All my life are roses to remember

 

THE BEST OF THE REST

Dandelions

Terri Donahue, Center Moriches

The ferocious dandelion is not so "dandy," as it spreads its golden seed

Popping up here and there, growing abundantly at time's warp speed

It's the bane of my gardening days, as I attempt to annihilate this weed

As a child I ran to gather the silvery puffs and blow them frivolously into the air

Sending thousands of tiny seedlings on my parents' lawn without care

But when my grandchildren pick the billowy "flower" puffs, I want to stop them in despair

Then I remember, as I watch their joy of blowing dandelion seeds frivolously into the air.

 

Untitled

Miriam Cohen, Valley Stream

The season's planting is done --

Colors, all over, appear

Morning comes -- a new day

However, to my dismay

There's dirt OUTSIDE the pots --

The squirrels have been here!

 

My Pocket Garden Hose

Elaine Anne Pasquali, Dix Hills

I've always been partial to pockets in my clothes

so imagine my joy when I learned of the pocket hose

It's a lovely green color, much like pistachio

and long enough to reach my garden and patio

Turn on the water and my pocket hose uncoils itself

turn off the water and it shrinks up like a tiny elf

Therefore, I propose, it's one mensch of a garden hose

 

Marigolds: My Go-to Plants

Elaine Anne Pasquali

My adorable mini schnauzers snatch at plants in my garden

they munch on my flowers and never beg my pardon

These mischievous pups present a flowers-pups dilemma

marigolds are nontoxic and bloom through September

Golden marigolds are my "go to" plants each year

I enjoy both pups and plants without having any fear

 

Ode to My Garden Bench "Ole Faithful"

Florien Mincone, East Meadow

If it were not for Ole Faithful, my garden would not be,

For getting up and down is not as easy as it used to be.

She lets me sit while I plant and weed,

She helps me get up and down,

She lets me sit and take a break before I move on to plant the rest of my grounds

So thank you Ole Faithful for always being there for me,

For without your help my garden just would not be.

 

Untitled

Valerie Skelly, Bellmore

We love to experience the springtime thrill

Of a purple tulip and pale daffodil.

But if that brassy dandelion shows its mane

It's off with its head we quickly proclaim.

Can we ever dispose of this weed for good,

This lawn-spoiling blight of our neighborhood?

But children love me, they loudly declare,

They huff and puff and send my seeds everywhere!

 

The Garden Divine

Kathy Melia Levine, Long Beach

God's such a creative gardener

I noticed it this morning again.

The lilies of the valley have blossomed

They're beyond the minds of mere men.

Each plant holds dozens of tiny white bells

So delicate and exquisitely cast,

It took divine imagination to craft such beauty

And a love for the earth unsurpassed.

 

It's Just a Seed

Terri Lynn Ammon, Pataskala, Ohio

I once received a priceless gift, its value was unknown.

It was a rare original and a pride and joy to own.

Over the years its value increased and it was a joy to discover.

That I was not at all its owner, I was in fact its gardener . . .

 

The Mighty Oak

Myra M. Lavine, Wantagh

The devastation of Super Storm Sandy still lives in my backyard.

The mighty oak tree I planted as a seedling some 50 years ago was uprooted.

A neighbor removed the trunk and branches to burn in his fireplace but the stump remained.

What a splendid idea to leave it as a seat or a table -- wrong!

The stump fights back, sprouting branches in all directions -- an oak bush out of control.

My good intentions are all for naught.

Sadly, my beloved oak tree will have to be removed.

 

The Terrorist in My Garden

Gloria Kirsch, Boca Raton, Florida

I walk in my garden and what do I see?

A bug on a leaf staring at me.

I weed and I feed; do everything right.

My garden is my morning delight.

Mr. Bug, you know I work very hard.

How about flying to my neighbor's yard?

 

Untitled

Maureen Baglio (with apologies to Joyce Kilmer), North Bellmore

I think that I shall never be

The gardener that I want to be.

My plans are big, ideas are grand

But once I have my trowel in hand

My back says, "No, you can't bend down!"

So on I dream, and smile, not frown.

 

Ode to my lawn

Maria Manobianco, Farmingdale

Oh, Dear Lawn, you are my Emerald Isle

I dream of walking on your grassy cover

inhaling the sweet smell of you

No weeds, no patchy spots or debris

to upset the perfect picture

The colorful flower beds do not distract

from your majestic presence

 

Untitled

Gerald and Linda Deutsch, Glen Head

My wife and I were up at dawn

Today we were going to work on our lawn

We were going to plant seeds cause we both know

When seeds are planted plants will grow

It's clear to me and to my wife

That those seeds that are planted will produce life

 

Daffodils!

Jane Shelley, Wantagh

Nestled 'neath the earth, my fellow bulbs and I

Waiting for a coaxing warmth shining from the sky.

Then one day it finally comes and nudges us to grow.

We stretch and stretch and reach above through that last bit of icy snow.

We sway and dance in spring's fresh breeze, sometimes without reason,

Our golden trumpets then burst forth to welcome a new spring season!

 

Ode to a Perennial

Peg Whelan, Long Beach

Unfazed by Sandy's salt water,

You righteously bloom every spring.

Taking your survival for granted,

Unaware of the joy that you bring.

 

Perennial Bliss

Trish Collins, Shirley

I have no money left to spend

I have no time

My garden to tend

But a little raking out

And some pruning of my old friends

And beautiful colors will greet me

At a weary workday's end.

 

Ode to Ruthie

Cynthia Crockford, Mt. Sinai

We met for a reason

Hospice visits for a season

Nature was your playground

Snakes and frogs, you were especially fond

You have passed now . . .

In my garden pond

With a bright green smile, you've come back

 

Apple Orchard

Roni LaPolla, Port Jefferson Station

Rows of apple trees, black and brittle, rock stiffly in winter.

Their twigs frozen like spears of ice; holding nests of snow.

And in the Spring lithe and heavy under a great weight of blossoms.

The wind shaking the blossoms; they fly, looking like snow.

In Fall, the orchard will be filled with the smell of rotting fruit;

the sounds of birds and falling apples.

 

Healing Ground

Laura DeYoung, Long Beach

We labored to change its sorry state

in nurture and care we did not abate.

Mulching and tilling for hours unending

working the earth that so needed mending.

Sandy wreaked havoc in yards all around

Tis true: time and love heal more than the ground.

 

Roy

Laura DeYoung, Long Beach

In this world of phonies and GMOs

my husband finds joy in the things he grows.

Buying his seeds from a well trusted source

because Monsanto he'll never endorse.

Soon he'll observe with much admiration

the fruit of his honest cultivation.

 

Grandpa's Roses

(In memory of Grandpa Joseph Cioffi)

Susan Marie Davniero, Lindenhurst

Sunshine awakens the birth

Grandpa's Roses from the earth

As blush of colors bathe

Grace the walking path

Enchanting scene we behold

As the rose buds unfold

Bloom is Heaven sent

Burst of sweet scent

Giving Mother Nature's kiss

Splendor by garden's bliss

The seasons comes and goes

Blossom of Grandpa's Roses

 

Untitled

Linda Hickson, Bethpage

My husband loves to garden, he's inspired me too

I go off to the nursery to pick up a plant or two

He mostly does the backyard and I do the front

He mows and weeds the lawn, aches and pains he bears the brunt!

When all the work is done, together we sit and ponder

At the beauty of Mother Nature and all her magnificent wonder!

 

My Zen Garden

Anne M. Ehmann, Merrick

A novelty in my backyard,

a focal point of beauty and grace,

enshrined with trees, plants, and shrubs

this, my quiet, reflective space.

Sounds that soothe. Moments to be.

Step into my garden and be transformed

by its colors, calming stillness, and waterfalls.

 

Untitled

Timothy L. Busam, East Northport

Many flats filled with flowers,

planting for hours and hours.

Bags of soil, peat moss and seed

and always you weed and weed.

Then water, water, watch it grow.

Sit back and enjoy the show.

 

The Fig Tree

Angela de Caprariis-Salerno, Garden City

Tar paper, burlap and twine . . .

Age-old process to protect that fig tree of mine.

Another frigid snowy, winter day . . .

Undo the cocoon in early May.

Branches too dark, it's the end I fear . . .

Weeks along -- tiny green buds slowly appear.

Tar paper, burlap and twine saved that old fig tree of mine!

 

Ode to a Dear Friend

Ann Lettal, North Massapequa

Flats and flats of flowers are parked upon the grass.

They're waiting to be planted and it has to be done fast.

I reach for my dear friend that I couldn't do without.

It's got to be my shovel, of that there is no doubt.

How else would I get in there to move about the soil,

without by trusty shovel to release me from this toil.

So, thanks dear friend for all you do, to you I remain loyal.

 

Sanctuary

Ann Lettal, North Massapequa

My garden brings me solace

in bold bright colors or hues of only green.

Nonetheless, all are calming to my senses.

It is my retreat whenever the need strikes me,

even the weeds cannot make me falter.

Never-ending gratitude for returning to greet me each year.

It is here in my garden I find my sanctuary.

 

How to Garden? (You'll Need Seed, See?)

Randy H. Traster, Greenlawn

I know how to garden I've done it once before

Didn't do it by the fountain. Didn't do it by the shore.

I didn't do all alone. We've dug it up before

But we did it all at once, and had to run to the garden store to get the seeds to plant, start, stare, wait, water, weed, thin, and more, thence.

Then we waited for the water, to do her job;

Then we waited, to see if the tomatoes were ready to be trimmed, snipped, sliced and BBQ'ed.

Never mind about the zucchini, the flowers were delicious.