Irma Souveroff of Baldwin took top honors in this year's...

Irma Souveroff of Baldwin took top honors in this year's Garden Detective poetry challenge. Credit: John Dunn

Last month I asked readers to wax poetic about their biggest gardening challenges, and my mailbox has been a source of entertainment ever since. As it turned out, selecting the best was my biggest gardening challenge. Fortunately, I was up for it. Irma Souveroff of Baldwin wins a Gardener's Hollow Leg - a strap-on gardening trash bag - for her literary gem. And Kathy Levine of Long Beach earns an ergonomic Fist Grip cultivator. Everyone else gets a Garden Detective high-five. Nice work!

Grand-prize winner: Irma Souveroff, Baldwin

Little Crop of Horrors
Little melons were my choice; my husband longed for squash.
Our garden's small, but darn it all, we'd grow them both, by gosh.
We readied the soil, we watered it and pulled out all the weeds.
Then he sowed here and I sowed there, according to our needs.
Alas! the pollinating bees cared little for our plan.
And what sprang up in our two plots? A thing unknown to Man.
It wasn't watermelon and it wasn't squash, dear, either.
But a monster bearing both their traits, yet with the taste of neither.
Unfit to eat in any way, it ended up as compost.
Which, reluctant as I am to say, is what we grow the most.

First runner up: Kathy Levine, Long Beach

Return of the Snails (or Snail Alert)
Horrors! Horrors! The snails are back.
I can tell by the holes in the daisies.
Sometimes I hear them chewing in the night.
Can you tell they're making me crazy?
I spray them, I salt them, I serve them some beer
To get the results that I seek.
Victory! They've vanished. But I promise you this:
I'll be doing the same thing next week.


Most heartwarming

I love a beautiful garden and wait for spring each year.
But planting my flowers and veggies gets harder and harder I fear.
I have the perfect solution: I get my grandkids to give me a hand.
It makes our relationship closer and instills in them a love of the land.
It's our "special time" together and they love to eat what they grow.
When I'm gone and they are older they will know just what to do.
- Carol Chiasera, North Bellmore


You have breast cancer" said the letter.
My friends took up a collection to help me feel better.
So many donations came pouring in.
It was overwhelming, making me feel like they were kin.
So what to do with this money so it wouldn't seem shallow?
So many ideas, all seemed so fallow.
Then suddenly it came to me,
A garden of hope I did see.
Today this garden of roses fills a field.
And the breast cancer? It's all healed.
- Jane Corrarino, Setauket

Best haiku

Agile no more
But grateful for props
To garden on with stubborn love
- William Reilly, Levittown

Kathy Levine of Long Beach earned second place in the...

Kathy Levine of Long Beach earned second place in the 2010 Garden Detective poetry challenge for her poem about snails, which she controls with salt and beer. Credit: William Perlman

Honorable mentions

Planting Dilemma

Planting time and what to plant is always my dilemma.
I mentally sift through poisonous plants, at least those that I remember
No lilies, mums, or tulips; they will make my puppies sick.
So I walk through the nursery aisles wondering what to pick.
I end up with the same safe plants each and every year.
that way I can enjoy both pups and plants
without worry and without fear.
- Elaine Anne Pasquali, Dix Hills


The greatest gardening challenge I face
Is the sneezing and sniffling all over the place.
I love to garden and be out in the sun,
Except when my eyes and my nose start to run.
The wheezing and sneezing make planting a chore.
But every spring, I come back for more.
Everyday on the news it's "Gardeners Beware!
There's pollen and allergens floating in the air!"
I grab my trowel, my flowers and a tissue.
Out I go to plant some more a ... a ... ACHOO!
- Terri Donahue, Center Moriches

A lawn with no mole is my goal,
So that I can enjoy a nice stroll.
I'd be quite satisfied
If someone could provide
A recipe for mole casserole.
- Edie Emeritz, Medford
Squirrels imperil our Irises.
My wife and I wonder why this is?
The buds must be bitter
And the flowers are fitter,
To be blooms for the Mr. and Mrs.
- Dominick Salvatore, Williston Park

The Garden Threat

Oh, slithering snail so at home in your shell,
Why must you also in my garden dwell?
You're really a pain if the truth can be told
For eating away at my prized marigolds.
You gnaw and you nibble by light of the moon;
I'm warning you, snail, to get out of here soon.
For at the first glimmer of morning's bright light
My dear friend, the snail, you'll be in for a fight.
So stop eating the plants from the seeds that I sow,
Or tomorrow you'll find you've become escargot.
- Monica Andermann, North Bellmore

Terri Donahue of Center Moriches, who battles allergies while she...

Terri Donahue of Center Moriches, who battles allergies while she gardens, earned an honorable mention in the Garden Detective 2010 garden poetry challenge. Credit: Handout

The Eye of the Beholder

I plant a seed.
I water and wait.
I feed; take heed,
Whatever its need.
One day it arrives.
It blooms and survives.
My friends scoff: "Weed."
I say, "INDEED!"
- Donna Cohen, Massapequa Park

The best of the rest 

Lettuce Pray

My hopes and dreams
Involve pole beans.
The rabbits love to eat my flowers;
Squirrels ignore my gardening powers.
A body once strong that gardened with ease
Now has hips that ache and creaks in the knees.
No matter this it's my garden I cherish;
I sit amidst its colors and scents and all worries perish.
To maintain its beauty I weed and prune and water each day,
Then I kneel in my garden and say "lettuce pray." --  Judi Weissman, Kings Park

The warmth of the Sun
is calling my name
The song of the Birds
to come play the game
My sweet baby flowers nod pretty heads
to come take strangling weeds from their beds
But my still aching body forbids me to move
and come trowel those devils away from your groove
So I beg you to have Patience and Trust just to wait
til tomorrow Gardener's Men come and free you from
that Fate! -- Marcia Miller, Malverne

"Sly Weed"

Friendly little look-a-like
Throw a leafy arm around my shoulder, mate
I feel your green vines entwine mine,
Oh, how you insinuate
Like a familiar face in the garden
You blend in here and there,
Social climbing
As you steal the silverware.
Share my food,my bed, my sky
Live well until you die. -- Debra North, East Meadow

Garden Ease

How can I begin to sow
unable to hold the hoe?
Bought a new easy grip
that makes me feel hip.
Now gardening is a zip! -- Deborah Rehm, Shirley

Love Poem to Hosta

I can rip you out, tear you in half, toss you aside
Leave you abandoned, lying alone – uncovered, untended
You always come back
Peeking out, turning bare and empty turf to tropical retreat
Dug out, split, cut, shared –my abuse you accept and allow
Yet, each new calendar yields your new abundance- stronger, greener
Oh how the sun and rain do feed your schizophrenic styles, your never-ending variety
Beauty may pale to competitive blooms but your loyalty exceeds – you hardy soul
You help me deceive them, hide the brown on my thumb while I betray you for other pursuits
No one knows just how much I ignore you, still to visitors and passersby, you make me proud. -- Kara Hahn

neither the rosebush
nor blue sky cheer me today,
but the bird's song... -- Walter E. Harris III, Selden

the houseplant stem
once mended with a twist-tie
unfurls a new leaf -- Walter E. Harris III, Selden

 Winter's last blast - a  March storm descends
Snowy weight causes my white birch to bend
  Suet feeder spins, but I know we win
Tomorrow the nuthatch returns, through thick and through  thin
  From stumps to foot long blossoms winds my wicked wysteria
The bumble bees swarm in mass hysteria
  You say - too much time and expense- there is a saw for every season
I say- to cut it down would be deemed treason
  So very soon, I'll peer down at the earth -at the nose of the hosta
Up to my elbows in soil, working off the  winter pasta. -- Paul Bikoff, Huntington

I went out a pickin' and to my surprise
I bought some hostas to plant side by side
Before I knew it and right before my eyes
I noticed the hostas were doubled in size
They didn't stop growing, which I never knew
and to my surprise one sunny morning noticed a massive green hue
My hostas kept growing so bright and so big
I just knew at that moment I'd be starting to dig
So I got out my shovel and I got out my hoe
And went out to my garden to make the smaller hostas grow
I split them in half and planted them again
With hopes that they'd grow much smaller than they once did then
So my advice to you is don't buy a lot
Cause you'll be stuck with mucho hostas in your garden lot
When I split them in half, I gave some away
To friends and neighbors, which made for a wonderful day -- Bobbi Edwards, Lido Beach

In My Garden
The flowers have color, the plants are in bloom
The garden is such that there’s almost no room
With green thumb I rake, I sow and I prune
At the pace I am going, I’ll be finished by noon.
There is a slight problem, I’m the first to admit
I have trouble in finding a good spot to sit
It’s not lack of trying, it’s what’s underneath
the dirt and the mulch, and it's close to my reach
They’re called bugs, snails and worms, and they do gross me out
But I can plant in my dreams, of that fact, there’s no doubt! -- Elizabeth Katz, Seaford

Those Lilies of the Valley
have a mind of their own.
Just when you plant them in a spot,
that's when they start to roam.
They're just like Pachysandra
you have to rein them in.
Before you take the Mower out,
to take it for a spin. -- Ann Brusca, Middle Island

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