6 Things You Didn't Know About Garden Gnomes

One place outright bans these wily (but, yes, divisive) creatures.
Jeff Biglan

Like pink flamingos, the garden gnome has gone from "tacky" to "charmingly kitschy" in the span of a few decades. These adorable little statues, while not as fancy as an exquisitely sculpted urn, bring a whimsical element to any outdoor space.

Here are a few things you might not have known about the humble lawn gnome:

1. They're (way) older than you think.

Kris Krüg

Though they seem like a fun '50s or '60s fad, the garden gnome came into being in Germany in 1872. They were named Gartenzwerge (garden dwarfs), a word that sounds exactly like a sneeze.

2. And they still big in Germany. Really big.

Klaus Rein

There's an estimated 25 million gnomes in yards across the country.

3. U.S. production of gnomes came to a halt during World War II.

Jens-Ulrich Koch

They were a little too associated with Germany.

4. They're banned from one of the world's most famous garden shows.

Gnomes finally get a moment in the limelight at the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show.
Getty Images

The Chelsea Flower Show frowns upon the figurines, forbidding them from appearing in designs — except in 2013, to honor an anniversary of the gnome.

5. They're part of the grand old tradition of "Gnome Roaming."


You'll know this from both the 2001 movie Amelie and the Travelocity ad campaigns. It involves taking a gnome from a neighbor's yard and periodically sending photos of the gnome on its travels. (Gnomes have even made it to the South Pole.) There doesn't seem to be a clear reason to do this other than the eternal question of "Why not?".

6. There's a sanctuary for the statues in England.

Chris Windsor

The Gnome Reserve, a garden featuring 2,000 various gnomes, remains a popular tourist attraction in North Devon.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Gardening