Garden Gnomes, Anyone?
Garden Gnome, anyone?
This year the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK declared that the banned garden gnome was now allowed to be part of the Chelsea Flower Show.
Tackiness be damned! Garden gnomes for all!
This may seem to be a funny little discussion but it actually has great portent. Garden gnomes, those funny little white-bearded creatures, are associated in England with the landscapes of the not-so-rich and the unfamous. According to English gardening maven, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, “Gnomes are very symbolic in English gardens as an anti-class statement."
Born to be Wild Gnome
Anti-class? anti- posh? These happy little garden sprites (or small and creepy men, depending on your point of view) are reminders that we are all free to fashion our gardens, our little bits of heaven, in our own way. I remember, growing up in Brooklyn, walking by many a 'bathtub Mary' in the chainlink bordered front yards of those lucky enough to have a front yard. They would take a cast iron bathtub (tossed out in favor of newer, lighter ones) and set it vertically in the ground to act as a niche for a statue of Mother Mary. The genesis of re-purposing, I am sure.
But back to gnomes, the Chelsea Flower show allowing gnomes is akin to baseball allowing wiffleballs in their games. People were aghast. Gnomes, which are called “brightly colored mythical creatures” in the flower show handbook, are opposite of the traditional Chelsea approach. They have been lumped for years with balloons, flags, and “feather flags,” and other banned items as detractors from the plant and garden display.
So why the switch? Because people have become 'gnome fanatics'! Solus, a gardening related products company has sold 200,000 of their Woodland Wilf line since 2009. People put them in their front yard, their backyard, lying on a leaf, under some trees, in the lawn. Some people hide gnomes in their friends' gardens as a game: 'find the gnome'
Even Elton John got into the act...As part of its new gnome-friendly policy, the horticultural society asked a group of celebrities to decorate some gnomes. Guess what the Elton John gnome looks like? 'Gnomism' lives on.