2012 poetry competition winners

Read the winning poems

Finally, the results of the Gardeners’ World Magazine 2012 poetry competition are in. More than 800 of you entered, and the standard of the poems was extremely high. Read the winning poems, below.

Our theme of ‘Seasons’ inspired more than 800 of you to enter this year’s poetry competition, with a huge rise in the number of children’s entries from 2011.

The winning poem, Mrs Thorpe’s Arithmetic by Fiona Walker, made a great impression on the judges. Alan Titchmarsh said “I found it haunting and liked reading it over and over”, while Sarah Langan, producer of Radio 4’s Poetry Please, liked the “repeating refrain – its familiarity strikes a chord without being hackneyed”.

The standard was also high in the children’s entries across all age categories, with the judges praising their use of language, describing it as “exceptional” in My Name is the Earth, by Emily Morrish.


The winners

Click to view the winning poems and runners up in each of the competition categories:

Winners - adult category

Runners up - adult category

Winners - children 10 and under category

Winners - children 11-14 category

Winners - children 15-17 category

The judges

Alan Titchmarsh - broadcaster, novelist, journalist, gardener and poet on the side

Pam Ayres - writer, broadcaster and gardener known for her comic verse

Roger McGough - award-winning poet and presenter of Radio 4's Poetry Please

Sarah Langan - poetry and readings producer for Radio 4, and keen gardener

Prize details




First prize A two-night hotel stay, including breakfast, in an Old English Inn. Choose from 10 wonderful locations around the country, all ideally placed for garden visiting. For a full list of included hotels, visit oldenglishinns.co.uk.

Second prize £75 of National Garden Gift Vouchers.

Third prize £50 of National Garden Gift Vouchers.

Runners up Six runners up will receive two poetry books: As Far as I Know by Roger McGough and The Works by Pam Ayres.




There will be one winner and one runner up in each of the three categories (15-17; 11-14; 10 and under).

Winner £50 of books by a selection of children's poets.

Runner up £25 of books by various children's poets.


Advice on writing poetry

The 2012 competition is now closed, but don't let that put you off penning your own garden-themed verse. Sarah Langan, one of our four judges, is a producer of Poetry Please on Radio 4 and was a judge for both our 2011 and 2012 poetry competitions. Here is her advice on writing a winning poem:

Adjectives - think very carefully about using them. Show, don't tell. Use observation, rather than sentiment.

Make every word count - ask yourself if every single word earns its place in the poem. Look out for clichés.

Line endings are important - use your imagination, don't waste time with prosaic writing.

Rhyme - it can be very effective but it shouldn't be used at the cost of everything else. Don't force a word into the poem just because it rhymes.

Think of internal and half rhymes, too.

Alliteration - it can be powerful but don't overdo it.

Read your poem to others once you've finished it and get a second opinion on how to improve it.


For more advice on writing poetry, read Sarah's guest blog for gardenersworld.com.


Where to find inspiration

Read the three winning entries in our 2011 competition.

Listen to poets, from Tennyson through to Seamus Heaney, reading their own work at poetryarchive.org.

For more information on events and tips on writing poetry, visit poetrysociety.org.uk.

Tune into Poetry Please on Sundays, 4.30pm, BBC Radio 4.