UK sales of gnomes doubled last year, according to one chain of garden stores.  So what is happening, are gnomes becoming fashionable again or are there other factors at work?

Certainly last week’s UK release of the movie “Gnomeo & Juliet” has given gnomes some media attention and may well lead to a revival in their popularity.   The range of gnomes available today is much less than in their hey day, but there are figures available in all manner of sizes.  Some like to relax after a hard day’s work in the garden, whilst others are ready to help out in the garden.  But surely the eponymous image of a garden gnome is one fishing.

So, why did gnomes fall from grace?  Fashions change, but gnomes became a hated items for many gardeners.  Quite possibly this was because their huge popularity lead to poorly made items in gaudy colours and cheap materials, even plastic was used.  Probably the final straw for most gardeners was the introduction of cheeky figures which pushed the boundaries of taste.   It is likely that the key thing is that they were a fashion and therefore, by definition, interest was bound to diminish.

For years, I said that I didn’t want gnomes – they just felt out of place in my garden.  A couple of my friends made it their business to find me a gnome that I was prepared to have in my garden.  I have to say that they came up trumps and I agreed to find homes for both gnomes that I was presented with.   When I wanted to photo one for this post,  I had to go searching for them in the garden – they are small and well hidden!  I managed to find the one above, who had fallen and was covered by some leaves.  As you can see, his colours are muted, he has a very friendly face and he is prepared to help me out in the garden.  I decided that for the photo I would move him to enjoy the cyclamen and wait for the hellebore to flower.  Who knows, he may end up staying in his new location.

The sad thing was that I couldn’t find the other gnome.  He is even smaller than the one above and his clothes are in shades of brown, a very cute fellow.  I think I will have to watch out for him when I am tidying this spring.  I think I know roughly where he should be – he is bound to be covered by quite a lot of fallen leaves.

Another factor in the claimed growth in sales may be a reclassification of the term gnome to include other humorous garden objects such as the digging dog.  For me, the first time I saw such an item, I was amused, but that quickly vanished.  I feel that these garden ornaments are a one line joke which pale very quickly with repetition.  My real life dogs don’t dig, and I hardly want a pretend one to do the job.

So, will I be buying more gnomes?  That is highly unlikely, however I wouldn’t totally rule out the possibility if I happened to find a small tasteful one somewhere.