I have to be honest. Gnomes were never my favorite fantasy character. But in all fairness to the tiny, portly, bearded, pointy-hat-wearing humanoids, it’s hard to compete with cool things like fairies, pixies, and elves. What brought them into the garden? Superstitious folks thought they protected them from evil sorcery and must of liked the way they looked in a natural setting because they’ve been decorating lawns and gardens since the 19th century.
Credit Germany for creating the first garden gnome. Baehr and Maresch of Dresen produced a ceramic gnome as early as 1841. From around 1860, many statues were made in Grafenroda. This is where Philip Griebel made gnomes based on local myths of the characters toiling in the gardens. The interest in “garden gnomes” quickly spread to all parts of Germany, and into the gardens of France and England.
The business of manufacturing garden gnomes in Germany took a hit during World War II. Hitler must not have been a fan. To this day, Griebel’s descendants continue to crank out the little creatures, but most are produced in Poland or China. Their legacy lives on, as there are believed to be 25 million garden gnomes in Germany alone!
Today, garden gnomes are once again a hot item. The most recent garden gnome phenomena is called gnoming and involves pranksters returning the figurines into the wild, or “borrowing” them for trips abroad. The abducted gnomes have their pictures taken in locations all around the world. After their travels, the gnomes often return home just as mysteriously as they vanished. Sometimes they even become spokes(little)people for corporations, like Travelocity’s “Roaming Gnome.”
Here at eFairies.com we have quite an assortment of garden gnomes pursuing various occupations and hobbies, such as gardening, golfing, fishing or napping. We’ve got Wendell the Welcoming Gnome, Lucas the Lantern Gnome, Cone Hat Gnomes Sets, Pot Hanger Gnomes, and Mini Gnome Statuettes to name a few.
Garden gnomes may not be adorable or dainty. But I’m warming up to these little characters, appreciating their unique poses and personalities. They are actually a sweet addition to any garden or lawn, and may be the only garden art one can acquire that ends up seeing the world.