and Resin Garden Figurines
When confronted by a yard gnome or several resin garden figurines the common reaction is to hold up
your hands in horror and utter an expression of disgust while wondering how anyone can bear to allow such a
creature to remain in their backyard. On the other hand we are told on good authority that the gnome population of
Southern Germany is close on four million and, when you start looking, there are quite a number of yard gnomes
visible in the US.
Perhaps we should not be surprised by the Germans since gnomes were first created
in their country in the early 1800's. The earliest recorded sighting in England was in 1840 at Lamport Hall, the
seat of Sir Charles Isham. It was not until 1872 that gnomes for the garden began to be manufactured in large
numbers. According to German folklore gnomes were regarded as good luck charms. They were supposed to help around
the house and garden and in rural areas often lived in the rafters of barns where they would keep a watchful eye on
the owner's animals as well as the crops and garden produce.
Over the years the German gnome makers honed their skills and became master craftsmen. At its peak the Griebel gnome
factory in East Germany produced some 300 different gnome characters. Following the collapse of communism in
1989 entrepreneurs in the Czech Republic decided to enter the market and to produce cheap resin garden figurines
in imitation of the traditional characters. Initially they were prevented from entering Germany by a law which
allowed customs to confiscate those gnomes infringing companies' copyright. However, now it is a free for all on
the German border and Reinhard Griebel, the great grandson of the founder of the firm, has just one workshop and
the gnome museum.
Whilst the original yard gnomes were depicted as gardeners engaged in the traditional rural tasks,
the range was increased to include anyone from fishermen to musicians, sportsmen and farmers. It was not long
before living individuals were being modelled in clay or stoneware. Among those currently available are gladiator
Russell Crowe, TV gardeners Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock and even a Tony Blair wall plaque. Tom Clark is
another well known name in the yard gnome world.
For resin garden figurine lovers no trip to Europe would be complete without a visit to the Gnome
Reserve set in the wilds of northern Devon in England. There you will find over one thousand yard gnomes and pixies
in the four acre reserve. Gnome hats are loaned free of charge together with fishing rods, so you don't embarrass
There are some who view the cheerful little character sitting in your yard in a different light.
FreeTheGnomes.com provides Garden Gnome Liberation information and calls to action. They proclaim that "Thousands
of Yard Gnomes are enslaved in Gardens across America. For too long we have let our neighbors usurp the rights of
these gentle woodland creatures. Join our boycott. Organize a picket demonstration. Write to Congress. Free a Gnome. We'll show you
Some groups have taken the law into their own hands. In April 2000 in Paris the dormant Garden
Gnome Liberation Front sprang back to life, stealing about 20 gnomes during a nighttime raid on a Paris exhibition.
"We demand ... that garden gnomes are no longer ridiculed and that they be released into their natural habitat,"
the Front's Paris wing said in a statement following its weekend strike.
Roaming gnomes have caused headaches for lawyers and police forces worldwide. In May 2004 The Scotsman reported that a spate of bizarre thefts
had left Lothians police with several unusual prisoners - 14 garden gnomes. An elderly woman complained to
police that someone was stealing gnomes from her yard in Fairfax County, Washington D.C. Officers set up a
spy-cam and caught their suspect in the act four times. Police revealed that their bad guy was really a
not-so-bad Labrador retriever named Magnum. The dog had been retrieving the resin garden figurines and bringing
them home. In Australia, roaming gnomes started disappearing from one particular neighbourhood on a large scale.
They were found in a clearing in the bush months later, where they were all gathered around the largest gnome,
having a meeting.
In California, personal injury due to poor placements of garden gnomes can be an issue as well.
Gnomes spilling over from lawns to sidewalks may not sound like a big deal, but if someone tripped would you want
to deal with a San Diego personal injury lawyer? The answer is probably no, so it's essential to make sure
your garden and lawn gnomes remain off public walkways.
If you have not yet succumbed to the temptation to acquire one of these cheerful resin garden
figurines, let me leave you with one final thought. A study carried out in England in 2003 into matters to be
considered when selling your home found that having a yard gnome in your front garden reduced the value of your
house by $840. However if you really feel you must have one, then take a look at our Garden Gnomes Gallery where you will find a collection of
these cheery little folk.
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