No doubt many a gardener will receive a garden gnome for Christmas. They are available at all the garden shops, big box stores, and even the grocery store in the produce section! So why are gnomes given to gardeners?
Gnomes first appeared in European folklore as benevolent creatures who rewarded the good behavior of farmers, merchants, and housewives with assistance in fields, shops, and gardens at night. They also thought to ward off thieves from stores of grains and vegetables in barns. Why wouldn't any self respecting gardener want one or several?
Ceramic gnomes were first manufactured in rural Germany by Phillip Griebel in the middle of the nineteenth century. From there they spread to England in 1847 and later to the USA. Garden gnomes have a rich history, but, as we well know, they (and their owners) have occasionally faced persecution from the general public. The Royal Horticulture Society of Britain even banned the use of "brightly colored creatures" including lawn gnomes in 2006 at the Chelsea Flower Show.
I found another pitfall beside ridicule that might make you reconsider the garden gnome: they can become real pests in the garden.
Watch this film from our cohorts at Utah State Extension for tips on Gnome Management.
I hope a garden gnome is in every gardener's stocking!