For the last 100 years, there has been one accessory that no backyard
garden should be without: the Garden Gnome. Once wildly popular, some
folks say they're making a comeback — but were they ever really out of
Not to be confused with dwarfs, pixies, fairies or even elves, gnomes
are small beings that, according to legend, dwell in the earth and protect
its riches. The garden-variety gnome has been with us since, well, at
least since 1870, when they were invented in eastern Germany and were
considered a status symbol in Europe.
At the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show we found only two gnomes in
the whole building. Looking around, the usurpers of the gnomes' garden
throne are blatantly displayed: mundane garden statuary, lions, cats,
religious pieces and even the odd mini-motorcycle.
While birdbaths and gazing balls can be found in abundance, in Sacramento
one of the few places you can find a garden gnome is The Gifted Gardener
on J Street. Storeowner David Skwong thinks there will be a resurgence
of interest. "A lot of the baby boomers are growing up and want their
own homes and yards and they want to start decorating, and I think that
brought the interest back in."
A short tour of Mr. Skwong's wares reveals the playful nature of gnomes.
Gnomes watering plants, digging holes, fishing, even a gnome wearing a
barrel to cover his gnome-nudity, which may explain one's prominent cameo
in the movie "The Full Monty."
So, while some "garden snobs" might consider them tacky and
replace them with zany chicken sculptures or elegant wooden giraffes,
it looks like garden gnomes are here to stay.