Garden gnomes first originated in mid-19th century Germany, based on tales of gnomes that would help out in the gardens at night.
They were called Gartenzwerg, which literally translates to “garden dwarf.” Their popularity skyrocketed very quickly and continues today. Most of us are familiar with the Roaming Gnome mascot for the Travelocity website (whose adventures you can follow on Twitter), or the act of stealing gnomes and sending photographs of them around the world back to their owner. The movie Amélie featured this activity, which was spawned by the Parisian group Front for the Liberation of Garden Gnomes—le Front pour la Libération des Nains de Jardin (FLNJ).
Typically made of clay, but now produced in a variety of mediums, the standard bearded, pointy-hat gnome is the most sought-after. Other poses and types can be found to suit your fancy, though, from raunchy to presidential to zombie.
Gnome love stretches far and wide. Here are some other ways people have shown their affection – and in some cases, distrust – for the wee ones.
- Free the Gnomes — This American group follows the same cause as the original FLNJ here on the U.S. homefront.
- Garden Gnome Defense League — Not everyone thinks gnomes are cute and innocent. Author Chuck Sambuchino is more concerned with the day when gnomes will rise up and turn on their unsuspecting guardians. His book, How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, is now in the works to be a major motion picture produced by Robert Zemeckis, who was also responsible for Back to the Future.
- Garden Gnome Carnage — In this fantastic, 80s-style online video game, you are responsible for defending Christmas and chimney attacks. According to the site, “It’s pretty much impossible to describe this game. Here’s a quote from one player: ‘At first I was wtf. But then I was wtf.‘” It takes a minute or so to load on the screen, but is cheesily addictive. Hitting the pause button will show game hints and tips scrolling across the screen.
- World’s Largest Concrete Gnome — If you find yourself near Iowa State University, you can visit Reiman Gardens for this behemoth. He’s 15 feet tall and close to 3,500 pounds.
- Better Gnomes and Gardens — A blog dedicated to all things gnomish.
- Made with Love by Hannah — I’ve been a big fan of Hannah’s awesome screen-printed skirts for quite some time. If you’d prefer to wear your gnome pride, check out her schwarzwalder skirts.
What do you love (or hate) about gnomes?