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Read the winning poem from the Garden Poetry contest and other favorite submissions 

Lynne Mahoney, right, seen on June 28, with

Lynne Mahoney, right, seen on June 28, with her husband, Sal Gambino, won the garden poetry contest for her poem about Sal's fig tree. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

For months, the human world has been plagued with upheaval — seen and unseen — but nature's world knows not of these things. The bees keep buzzing, hummingbirds flutter, and pollinators go about their business, ensuring our flowers bloom. There's solace to be taken in the oblivious continuity of the natural world. In May, I asked readers to express appreciation for the joy and peace that native flora and fauna, and clean air and water lend to the garden and their lives.

Nearly 100 poet gardeners traded hoe for pen to document their appreciation for nature. Here are my favorite submissions.

Taking first place this year is Lynne Mahoney of East Islip. She'll receive a copy of "Our Native Bees: North America's Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them," by Paige Embry (Timber Press).

Congratulations to all!



Lynne Mahoney, East Islip

Wonder what you're feeling as you gingerly uncover

bare branches of the tree that was a cutting from your mother.

The extra tight embraces she saved for you, her son?

The hugs of Sunday dinners, now so many loved ones gone?

Memories must warm as you intently tend that twig

for all the decades' care bestowed, it's not returned one fig.

The best of the rest

My Garden Sanctuary

Jane Shelley, Wantagh

How wonderful that nature has stayed constant with its life,

Not so the world of humans, caught in COVID strife.

Birds and squirrels need not a mask, when socially out and about.

Trees, perennials and bushes, are free to grow and sprout.

My garden gifts this special place, to enjoy life as before,

A heavenly respite from a surreal new world,

Just outside my kitchen door.

King and Queens of the World

Cristian Martinez, Ronkonkoma

Gliding to each flower spreading life

Hardworking and buzzing along the way

Essential to our lives, but we swat them

An annoyance, but they don’t mean to spread fear

Keeping the cycle of life turning

Pollinating our plants so we can continue to exist

Let’s treat our bees as the king and queens of our world.


Isa Hansel, Selden

Will I see my friend today?

Or must I wait for a warmer May?

The little friend I'm waiting for

I love so much and do adore!

THERE — she made it through my cemented driveway,

This little, tiny pansy-flower

Greets me again, it's nature's power!

The Bumblebee

Elaine Anne Pasquali, Dix Hills

I watch a bumblebee flying free, wishing that it was me

Unlike the bee, I shelter in place, wearing a mask over my face

I watch the bee flit from flower to flower, harvesting pollen by the hour

I think, "If bees continue to die, there’ll be no flowers or veggies to buy"

But for now, like Miss Muffet, I sit on my tuffet

My blue mood I’ll shirk, watching the bumblebee work

Thank you, little bumblebee


Judy Burkhoff, Wantagh

In my lush, bountiful garden I sit,

As the bees buzz and the butterflies flit.

I watch as they scour

From flower to flower

Sipping peach nectar, I crave every bit.


Ruth Shulman, Fort Salonga

There’s more to a garden’s scenery

Than fancy flowers and greenery

Gardens have other features

Inclusive of exotic creatures

Like spiders, moths and fireflies leaving me to theorize

That showered with sunlight, raindrops and love

Restful gardens are what warm memories are made of


Eileen Hession, Long Beach

My lawn has yellow polka dots, I think of them as beauty spots.

Weeds? Oh, no! I beg your pardon, they’re the hardest workers in my garden.

They’re good for salads, wines and teas, bouquets for mom, pollen for bees.

They’ll grant your wish: blow on the puff. Note: one flower is enough

to cover your lawn, no matter how big. You don’t like them? You can dig

them up, but soon you’ll learn: The dandelion will always return.

Ode to Isabella Moth

Barbara J. Minerd, Halesite

Oh, you woolly bear

dining on dandelions without care

Fashionista in black and rust

Cocooned before your springtime lust

Emerging as a tiger moth

drinking fragrant nectar froth

moon dancing ‘till you're betrothed.


Vincent J. Tomeo, Flushing

Elegant ladies grace a pond

prim, proper standing upright on water.

Long-legged ladies poised to snack on insects.

Soon they will drop their guard,




Christopher Brown, Wading River

Yesterday I came upon a turtle

Laying eggs behind the Russian sage

Covered with dirt

The ancient creature

Seems at peace with its and our world

It quickly stretches and withdraws into its shell

Oblivious to our human misery


Margaret Hanan, Rockville Centre

In the midst of a worldwide invasion by an invisible force

We are blessed with the beauty of native plants

Natural, homegrown, joys to behold

Gifts from God, symbols of hope

The Crier

Daniella Graffeo, Mount Sinai

Fill her with water, and out comes her tears,

Dripping onto vibrant petals like rain

Her troubles and sorrows seep into the soil;

Deep roots absorb, then repurpose her pain.

Although she may only be a piece of shaped metal

With a rusty handle and a spout,

She poses as a goddess for all those she provides for; a true beauty, both inside and out.

My Jeanette

Anthony J. Bruno, Smithtown

For many years she watched from her window

As I toiled at length in the garden below

She smiled as every miracle erupted from the Earth

And rejoiced at the cardinal against the snow

Now as I look up I see that she has gone

I know she watches joyfully as I toil on

Nature’s Busy Helpers

Karen Schlauraff, East Moriches

Out on Nature’s path, the busy bumblebees

Weave in and out the daffodils

That sway upon the breeze.

Collecting pollen from each flower,

A treasure that is dear,

Part of Nature’s power

That brings beauty every year.

My Garden

Liz Bellovin, Baldwin

My garden brings surprises like a sneaky Valentine

Some plants I’ve seeded, others flew in on spring winds and put down roots.

Milkweed and parsley beckon Monarch butterflies.

Praying mantis emerge like translucent Martians onto soft roses, sweetly teasing and pleasing the bees

Scents of honeysuckle and rosemary create an aromatic symphony

Backed by the low soulful gong of wind chimes.

My cat and I are grateful here — me with dirty fingernails, Biko with one eye on the birds.


Ellen Mason, Stony Brook

Commotion at the feeder,

A dash of red and black.

Then chickadee and blue jay

Start mounting an attack,

But the cardinal will not give an inch

And takes the feeder back.


Daniel Flynn, Quogue

I feel Spring’s first heartbeat at the village pond.

Tadpoles, forsythia and daffodils.

The cherry tree at the schoolhouse

wins best dressed, while Sage, Thyme and Parsley

await the summer feasts.

Bird’s nests and Monarchs, Peonies and tomato plants,

Nature’s symphony always catches me when I’m not quite ready.

Spring Bulbs

Daria Hong, Garden City

Oh look how my garden grows,

in colorful, little rows.

Bursts of yellow, pink and red

in a wooden flower bed.

Oh look how my tulips sway,

and how my daffodils play,

on this glorious spring day.


Chrissy Torrance, Levittown

Grow my gardens each year right from seed

Plant some extra to give those who need

While I pause in between pulling weeds

Admire bird friends who come near to feed

My time spent here, never hurried

A peaceful place to bury my worries

Now if only each day could be SUNNY!

Ode to a Seed

Mary Lou Hughes, East Islip

How marvelous to be so free

carried along by gentle breezes or

frenzied gusts at breakneck speeds

no concern for destination or provisions

content to be a vehicle for new life

in a rocky crag or well-groomed garden

humble enough to blend in not shine.

'Those Heavenly Days …'

Ann Perillo, Dix Hills

The garden I tended, I no longer do

Those wonderful days are now very few

They were so joyful and relaxing … therapeutic, too!

Those days are long gone … now I’m so “blue”

My brain tells me “yes” …

my body says “no”

Since I can no longer garden,

It upsets me so!

Welcoming Spring

Terri Donahue, Center Moriches

Hands in the dirt, gardening on knees

Planting veggies and flower seeds

Daffodils and crocuses blooming to please

Welcoming buzzing pollinator bees

Sprouting clumps of dandelion weeds

Dormant leaf buds bursting on trees

Bringing pollen that makes us sneeze


Hannah Conti, West Babylon

See on your stained bare feet the millennia of growth and rot,

earthworms working underground

wonders so trees can root in their ancestors’

last gifts. Be like the nested birds’ calling:

our survival depends on these green shelters

of the pitch pine and sugar maple,

this promise of the woods, we love what we know.

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