Garden Gnomes

garden gnomes symbolism and meaning
Garden gnomes meaning

Garden gnomes reside in millions of gardens around the Western world. Most people just keep them for decoration. They want to make their garden a more enjoyable place.

There are of course quite a few people who recognize that gnomes bring good luck. Many are firm believers that they protect their property!

The gnomes give the garden an element of surprise. Some are hilarious and sure to put you in a good mood.

Other gnomes make a statement about who lives in the home. Yet others are just plain cute.

Garden Gnomes – Symbolism and Meaning

garden gnome

A gnome is a creature that safeguards the treasures of the earth.

Garden gnomes are good luck. These creatures serve to protect and are a symbol of fertility.

Gnomes are spirits of the earth.  Garden gnomes protect your garden and your home at night when you are asleep.

Gnomes have extensive knowledge of stones, precious gems and minerals. According to folklore gnomes could make exquisite silver work. The crafts made by the gnomes had an extra bonus; they were magical.

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What does the word gnome mean?

The name “gnome” stems from the Greek word “genomos” which means “earth dweller”.

The Ancient Germanic word “Kuba-Waldd” may refer to the gnome. It means “home supervisor” or “The spirit of the home”.

In Germany, they were first known as “Gartenzwerge” or garden dwarfs.

Where is the largest collection of gnomes?

For many years a fabulous gnome collection was at the Gnome Reserve in Devon, England. Thousands of people visited yearly.

This huge collection of gnomes has moved to a new home. Today they reside at Merry Harriers Garden Centre in Bideford. The collection of gnomes has grown to over 2500. That must be worth a visit! Every country should have a magical place like this gnome sanctuary!

Any gnome enthusiast must put a visit to Gnomesville on their bucket list. It is in Ferguson Valley in the South of Western Australia. Over 5000 gnomes reside in Gnomesville.

Ken Humphreys from Britain is famous for his private collection. He had the world record according to Guinness World Records in 2001. This lucky man owned at that particular year 1200 garden gnomes!

The unofficial record may be the private collection of Helga Eidenhammer. She lives in Pfaffstätt in Upper Australia. This woman has collected gnomes for over 25 years. Her collection has reached the staggering about of 4443! We do consider this amazing! Anyone up to break her record?

Millions of new gnomes move into their new garden every year.

Today over 35 million garden gnomes reside in Germany alone. Garden gnomes are all over Europe. The same is true for the United States.

The Gnome Liberation Front – Gnome-napping

Not everyone has been happy about the garden gnome trend. From time to time there has been a problem called “gnoming”.

This implies removing a gnome from the garden and returning it to the wild. This was a problem in France and Italy.

 A group of French artists first started this movement. They called themselves “Gnome Liberation Front”.

These artists had strong views about gnomes kept in private gardens. They claimed these poor creatures were prisoners and went on a mission to rescue them.

Their goal was to return all “captured” gnomes held in private gardens to the wild. This movement caught on and spread to Italy in the 1980s.

The idea of freeing gnomes from “slavery” spread to the United States. They called themselves: Garden Gnome Liberation Front (GGLF). On their website they explained what to do if you found a garden gnome held “captive”.

Travelling Gnomes

Some Gnomes went on crazy trips around the world. We hope they all enjoyed their travels.

Garden gnomes gained new fans with the movie “Amelia”. In the movie Amelia sends her father’s gnome out to travel the world. Her father receives postcards revealing his gnome’s whereabouts.

Her intention was a good one. She hoped her father would get excited by what his gnome is experiencing. Amilia hoped this would give him the courage to travel.

The travel website “Travelocity” loved the idea of travelling gnomes. They launched an advertising campaign of roaming gnomes with the site: in 2004.

This campaign cost the company $80 million. It was worth every penny as it was a huge success.

Relatives of Garden Gnomes

Statues of gods, goddesses, fairies, and dwarfs have been common since the Renaissance.

In Ancient Greece some had statues of the god Priapus in the garden. His job was to protect the garden.

In Northern Europe there is a long tradition that dwarfs are dwellers of the earth. In Ireland there are the well-known leprechauns. The leprechauns do tend to reside in the wild.

 Norway and Denmark have the “nisse”.  Sweden has the “tomte”. The Norwegian “nisse” is a big part of the countries culture and folklore.

The Norwegian “nisse” tends to reside on a farm. He will do mischief if not treated right. Figurines of this little fellow are all over the place. This is especially true during December.

A short history of Garden Gnomes

The production of the modern-day garden gnome started in Germany around 1840. There are several famous manufactures from Germany.

Some claim that “Baehr and Johann Maresh” were the first to start producing garden gnomes. By 1863 they had great success in the worldwide market. Their factory was in Pirna, close to Dresen.

Johann Maresh’s son continued the business. Sadly, it came to a halt in 1939 with the outbreak of World War II. After the war the communists came to power and gnomes were out of the question. They tried producing busts of the president, but that was a flop.

Two famous producers of gnomes started in Gräfenroda, Germany. This town is mighty proud of its connection to gnomes. They insist this is the birthplace of the garden gnome. They have a museum dedicated to these fascinating creatures.

The first factory in Gräfenroda was founded by August Heissner in 1872. Sad to say they stopped making gnomes. There focus is on other features of the garden.

The second great factory from Gräfenroda is the Gabriel family business. Phillipp Gabriel founded the business in 1872. It has been in the family for four generations.

From this family business the first female gnome saw the light of day in the 1960s. Gnomes from Gabriel are popular to this day. The Gabriel family business remained faithful to the gnome.

There used to be 16 different garden gnome factories in Gräfenroda. The Gabriel family business is the only one left.

One of the first to produce gnomes in the US was the Silvestri family. It started with Arcangelo Silvestri. Later his son and grandson founded the A. Silvestri Company of Fine Statuary in 1956. It is in San Francisco.

Who is the most famous gnome in the world?

Sir Charles Isham owned the most famous garden gnomes in England. He purchased 21 garden gnomes in Germany in 1847.

Sadly, only one of them exists today. The last one standing is “Lampy”. Lampy is insured for over £1 million. Lampy now resides in a glass cage. He is only allowed to travel to important gnome events.

Who is the largest gnome in the world?

The largest is a Howard the Gnome. He is 28 feet tall (8 meters). His home is in Galey Farms in Saanich, Victoria, Canada.

He has black boots, wears green pants and a blue shirt. He has a red pointed hat. Howard is majestic as he gives the sign “thumbs up”.

Are there any gnome festivals?

There are gnome festivals in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Here are just a few examples of festivals:

Festival of Gnomes at Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park in Joliet, Illinois.

Gnome and Fairy Festival at Kircher Park in Eureka, Missouri

Gnome Fest in Tucson, Arizona

Please share news about any fun gnome festivals you know about or have been to. We would appreciate it!

Dawson, Minnesota – Gnometown

Dawnson is a small town in Minnesota, but oh so special. It has the nickname of “Gnometown”. Naturally the town of Dawson has a Gnome Park. What makes this special is that every gnome has a name and a story to tell.

Every year a new gnome is added to the population of Dawson. Every gnome is based on a real person from this town. What a fabulous way to honor the citizens of Dawson!

For kids, we recommend the TV series “Gordon the Garden Gnome”. It is a BBC production from 2005. The purpose of the show is getting kids interesting in plants and gardening. It has been shown on America’s Cartoon Network.

The fairy tale “Snow White and the seven dwarfs” is well-known. These dwarfs are often replicated as gnomes.

Most of us are familiar with the band “The Beatles”. George Harrison is well-known as an ex-Beatles. What not everybody knows is that he was passionate about gardening.

His album “All things must pass” (1970) had a special cover. The cover had a picture of George Harrison surround by gnomes. These particular gnomes resided at his estate Friar Crisp.

We will round this up with David Bowie. His delightful recording of “The Laughing Gnome” is worth listening to.

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