Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print
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
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
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.
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
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
"No, I'm not!"
What's that green thing poking up?
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.
-- 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 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
Sandy Storm wipes them out.
Start all over.
Sow my seeds.
Sprouting sand-loving plants.
--Maura McCabe, Freeport
"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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
Spring’s first, bright yellow pinwheel
Towers over the little pansy
Who peeks out of the cool shade
With its monkey-faced
--Terri Donahue, Center Moriches
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
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