Knowing your gnomes

According to Wikipedia, garden gnomes are figurines of a “small humanoid creature, usually wearing a pointy hat, produced for the purpose of ornamentation and protection from evil sorcery, typically of gardens or on lawns.”

The most common story I can find is they originated Germany  in the 1800s, and became popular in other areas of Europe and “wherever gardening was a serious hobby.”  I’m seriously kicking myself for not thinking of them when Ben’s brother asked if we wanted any souvenirs from Germany.

For me, gnomes remind me of one of my favorite childhood television shows, David the Gnome.  I could watch that show for hours!  Even now, I wish to have it on DVD so my future kids could watch it.  Note to self, find David the Gnome on DVD.

I thought it would be interesting to research the varying opinions on gnomes.  What I found was definitely unexpected!

Gnomes are mischieveousGnomes are not always there to help.

For many others, gnomes are definitely real, sentient creatures who aren’t always benevolent!  Just take for instance, the How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack website.  According to the creator of How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, there are different levels of gnome close encounters:

The First Kind

Observation of gnome evidence or shenanigans, such as footprints in the mud, frightened animals, or moved wheelbarrows.  Typical evidence indoors includes the smell of pipe smoke or observation of gnome whiskers (hair from a beard).

I’ve definitely smelled smoke in my garden before.  I don’ t think it was pipe smoke, though, so perhaps Russell prefers roll-your-own (rollies) cigarettes?

The Second Kind

Sighting of an animate gnome.  This means you’ve seen a gnome in motion — actually walking around.  They know better then to move when humans are watching, so you likely surprised them.

I’ve never seen Russell move before.  I guess he’s too fast for me.

The Third Kind


Seriously? I hired Russell to protect my garden.  Not attack me!  I’m glad he didn’t come with his own axe or spade, now.

Gnomes are an oppressed people.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are folks who believe that owning gnomes is a form of slavery.  There are sites like Free the Gnomes (not affiliated with the Gnome Liberation Front) and organizations like the Garden Gnome Liberationists.

These people steal or ‘liberate’ garden gnomes and sometimes even paint them to conceal their identities! You can even find them on Facebook.  Pretty crazy, if you ask me.

I would be sad if Russell disappeared (or was ‘liberated’).  Heaven knows he’s not actually doing anything for my garden — he was probably asleep when the plantnappers came.

Gnomes are magical and wonderful, happy beings.

This one is my personal view.  They like living in our gardens.  People like the folks at have a view which is similar with my take on garden gnomes, that they are “good-natured magical folk” and that catching sight of one is actually a wonderful thing!

Gnomes help animals & plants :)

If you’re lucky enough to have gnomes in your garden, your plants and animals  can only benefit from them — they are gardening gurus, and like David The Gnome, they help injured animals (when you’re not looking, of course).

I should probably put Russell back outside when I get home.  Maybe he’s just really new at this whole protecting thing.

But really, what would I know about what gnomes want?  Maybe I’ll do some research on that for a future post…poll some neighborhood gnomes, even.

What are your views on garden gnomes? :)

Images source: Mary Ferguson’s magical Etsy shop: PhenomeGNOME — please stop by her wonderful shop!  Mary was kind enough to allow me to feature her gnome pictures here, and I want to own all of them one day!  Now to just convince Ben & my family to buy them all for me…


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. teri
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 18:52:19

    I used to watch David The Gnome all the time!!! I was convinced that our garden gnomes had questionable backgrounds…and now I know that I wasn’t that far off!! I’m almost positive that they are the third kind…I always think that they want to murder me. :)


  2. promenadeplantings
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 01:18:19

    I see I’m in good company, our gnome is called little martin :)


  3. Jeyna Grace
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 03:21:54

    I dont have a garden to put gnomes in. But interesting post no doubt!


  4. Carolina HeartStrings
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 07:03:11

    Ok, I WANT one. A little magical protection in the garden sounds like what I need. Will it prevent me in stepping in what my dogs leave behind?


  5. Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden)
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 10:08:40

    I don’t “own” any gnomes in real life. In FarmVille (a farming game on Facebook) I own a number of them. Many players collect them and end up spending real money for virtual gnomes. They don’t affect game play but….gee, an idea for the programmers!


  6. boyssmell
    Oct 30, 2011 @ 04:10:37

    I kind of really want that top gnome. It is too funny to not want. Loving on that Etsy shop.


  7. valeriedavies
    Aug 05, 2012 @ 14:54:16

    I used to collect stories about gnomes. I particularly loved the newspaper account of a stolen gnome whose owner kept receiving postcards of his gnome on beaches and mountainsides from Provence to Tibet, and then found him back on the frontdoor step with a stamped passport in a tiny knappsack!
    I have also given a gnome to a friend at a bad taste birthday party. The joke being that she was famous for good taste!!


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