Garden gnomes have been around much longer than you probably think. The tradition has been around since the early 1800’s with Germany being the first to produce them in factories there and the gnomes were made of clay. However, they actually became popular in the 1840’s after folks in England started adding them to their gardens. The first garden-gnomes that were mass-produced came from Germany in the 1870’s. With the onset of the world wars, production of the garden gnomes soon came to a halt. The gnomes we know today, many made of plastic began making their appearance in the 1960’s. The gnomes are whimsical and cartoonish, but not necessarily to everyone’s taste. There is only a few manufacturers that make gnomes of clay and resin, and are finished by hand and not mass produced. The die hard gnome fanciers seek out these gnomes for their gardens. Gnomes come in a variety of poses and sizes.
Known as symbols of good luck, gnomes were also thought to provide protection over things like buried treasure. Even today they are placed in fields to watch over crops. Some were even placed in the rafters of barns to watch over livestock. Of course they are also most popular for placing in the garden. The farmers that placed gnomes in fields also believed that their good luck charm would ensure a greater yield of crops while protecting them from pests and other problems. Some even thought that the gnomes would help the gardeners through the night.
The word “gnome” is thought to be Latin for “earth dweller”. They were often referred to in German fairy tales. Similar creatures were found in folklore across the world, and were known by different names, such as the Hob in England.
Although gnomes weren’t really described very well in any of the stories, one thing is common throughout the world when it comes to their general look. Most are wearing simple clothing and a red hat and usually have a long white beard. The lady gnomes which aren’t that commonly seen in gardens, tend to be dressed in a simple dress and they have long hair also topped with a red hat. Is anyone else thinking that gnomes sound a lot like Smurfs?
Garden gnomes can be found these days in so many different configurations. Some may be holding a keg of beer, others snooze lazily in a hammock while yet others provide a source of solar lighting while mooning visitors to the garden.
Gnomes don’t always end up staying put in the garden where they are placed. Some have become the victims of a prank kidnapping. Photos of the kidnapped gnome is taken to show the adventures and travels of the little bearded guy, travels to some places that I’m sure most of us would envy.