gardens_slopewalkMagnolia Plantation and Gardens, America’s last large-scale romantic-style garden, will award prizes totaling more than $2,000 to poets – young and old – who best capture Magnolia as an idyllic “garden of romance.”

Judges will award prizes to poets who emulate the sensibility of romantic poets, stir the emotions and celebrate the natural world. Entries will be judged in adult and young adult divisions. The deadline to enter is March 1, 2013.

The Rev. John Grimké Drayton is credited with adopting a romantic style of gardening at Magnolia after visiting Europe in the 1800s as the Romantic Movement swept Europe and America. In addition to garden design, the Romantic Movement touched many aspects of European and American society and inspired poetry…

When Tom Johnson, Magnolia’s executive director, guides visitors on walks through the gardens, he emphasizes that the romantic style of gardening sets Magnolia apart from other gardens. “Unlike most of America’s gardens, which are formal and seek to control nature, Magnolia cooperates with nature to create a tranquil landscape like Eden where humanity and nature are in harmony,” Johnson said.

Adult and young adult divisions entries in the “Garden of Romance” poetry contest should be in the vein of poets such as William Wordsworth, John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley of England and Celia Thaxter, Henry David Thoreau and Emily Dickinson of the United States.

A Wordsworth quote inscribed on a small sign at Magnolia’s entrance reads: “Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.”

Contest Details and Rules

Midnight, March 1 is the deadline to submit entries. E-mail entries to with “Garden of Romance Poetry Contest” in the subject line. The winners will be announced in April.

Entries must be the original work of the poet. Entries can be in free verse or poem patterns, such as a sonnet and villanelle. An author may submit up to two poems. Each poem must include:

  • the title of the poem
  • the style of the poem
  • author’s name
  • author’s postal address
  • author’s phone number
  • author’s email address

Entries submitted by mail should be sent to:

Herb Frazier
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
3550 Ashley River Road
Charleston, S.C. 29414

Poems entered by mail cannot be returned.

Poems e-mailed to must be a Word document, formatted at 12 points. Send the document as an attachment.

Entries in the adult division will be judged by Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina poet laureate; and Dr. Jacquelyn Markham, an award-winning poet. Entries in the youth division will be judged by Donna Adams, reference and young adult librarian, Otranto Road Regional Library in North Charleston; and Willette Wilkins, creative writing teacher, North Charleston Cultural Arts Department.

In the adult division, judges will award $500 for first place, $300 for second place, $200 for third place and $50 to five poets in the honorable mention category. A poem of any style should not exceed 30 lines.

In the young adult division – ages 12 to 17 – the judges will award an iPad for first place, $200 for second place, $100 for third place and an annual family membership to Magnolia to five poets in the honorable mention category. Poems in the young adult division can follow any style. Poems must be double spaced, no more than one page in length and the type size must be 12 points.

For additional contest details, go to: Magnolia reserves the right to publish the winning poems and a selection of the entries.

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