Garden Gnomes

garden gnomes symbolism and meaning

Garden Gnomes – Symbolism and Meaning

Garden gnomes meaning

Garden gnomes are found in millions of gardens around the Western world. Most people just keep them for decoration and make their garden a more enjoyable place.

The garden 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.

A gnome was thought to be a creature that safe guarded the treasures of the earth.

Garden gnomes are considered very good luck. These creatures also served to protect and were a symbol of fertility.

garden gnome

Gnomes were considered spirits of the earth.

Garden gnomes are thought to protect your garden and your home at night when you are asleep.

Gnomes have extensive knowledge of stones, precious gems and minerals.  It was believed in folklore that gnomes could make exquisite silverwork.

The crafts made by the gnomes had an extra bonus; they were often magical.

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

The Ancient Germanic word “Kuba-Waldd” may also refers to the garden gnome. It means home administrator” or “The spirit of the home”.

All garden gnome fans will absolutely love the Gnome Reserve in Devon, England. There you will find the largest collection of gnomes in the world, as far as we know. The Gnome Reserve is visited by thousands of people yearly. Every country should have a magical place like the Gnome Reserve in Devon!

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


Not all have been equally happy about this trend. From time to time there has been a problem called “gnoming”. This is the act of removing the garden gnome from the garden and returning them to the wild. This was especially a slight problem in France and Italy.

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

Garden gnomes reached a new popularity after the movie Amelie was released. In this lovely movie Amelie send her father’s garden gnome out to many destinations in the world.

Her father receives postcards revealing his gnomes whereabouts. Her intention was a good one. She hopes her father will get so enthused by what his gnome is experiencing that he himself also will get the courage to travel.

Short Background of Garden Gnomes

Short Background of Garden Gnomes

Statues in gardens representing gods, goddesses, fairies, dwarfs, gobbies (dwarfs and hunchbacks in Italy) and what have you not have been common since the Renaissance.

In Ancient Greece some had statues of the god Priapus in the garden. Priapus was believed to protect the garden. He was also an advocate for sexuality which explains his enormous erection.

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

In Scandinavia you will find the “nisse” (Norway and Denmark) or “tomte” (Sweden). The Norwegian “nisse” is very much a big part of the countries culture and folklore. The Norwegian “nisse” tends to reside on a farm and will do mischief if not treated right. Figurines of this little fellow are all over the place, especially during December.

The production of the modern day garden gnome is said to have started in Germany in around 1840.

Today it is estimated that over 35 million garden gnomes reside in Germany alone. Garden gnomes are all over Europe and their popularity has also reached the United States.

The most famous garden gnomes to reach England were brought there by Sir Charles Isham in 1847. He purchased 21 garden gnomes in Germany and placed them in his garden at Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire. Sadly only one of them still exists. The last one standing is named “Lampy”. Lampy is insured for over £ 1 million.

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