The Gnomes Are Coming!
Who doesn’t like garden gnomes? Actually there’s a bit of a Marmite thing going on with them to be honest. Some people love them; others think they’re tacky and wouldn’t let one set foot in their gardens. There are also those who embrace the kitsch that garden gnomes exude and revel in them – me included.
A good garden gnome is friendly and always has a smile on its face (or a good-natured frown). Garden gnomes originated in Germany in 19th Century, where locally mythology has it that they protect gardens during the night. They quickly became sought after across western Europe, but really started to gain popularity when Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released.
The earlier incarnations weren’t too “animated”, and didn’t do much beyond standing, reclining, smoking or playing the guitar, but by the 1970s when there was another resurgence, the gnome became anything but common-or-garden, sporting new poses, such as fishing, sitting on swings and drinking beer. Whatever next?
There’s a new film, which is directed by John Stevenson, best known for taking the helm of Kung Fu Panda. This isn’t the reason why we’ve decided to stock the latest range of gnomes at Slate & Rose, but it does show us that we’re perhaps on the right track with our choice of garden ornament.
Time will tell whether this film will be a winner or not, but certainly a firm favourite film here at Slate & Rose is Amelie. It’s a nice heart-warming French film that has a big gnome slant and a twist (no spoilers here, so don’t worry). We heartily recommend it if you don’t mind subtitles. One of the sub-plots has the main character, Amelie, observing her friend being treated poorly by his employer, so she decides to teach him a lesson by playing some harmless(ish) tricks on him. She swaps his shoes for a pair that are identical albeit a size smaller. As he hobbles about in discomfort, he begins to receive letters purporting to be from the gnome that’s gone missing from his garden. Each letter suggests he’s having a great time and includes a photograph of him posing at such world landmarks as the Statue of Liberty, the Pyramids and the Houses of Parliament (don’t quote me on these – I’m writing this from memory, OK?). Amelie’s friend works for an airline and has kindly agreed to do this task for her on his travels. The employer begins to “melt down” slightly and becomes kindlier as a result. One-nil for the gnome!
So between myth, film stardom and revenge there’s a lot on offer from the garden gnome. Where do you sit? On the fence? On the pavement? In the garden with them? More and more people are turning to the gnome-side, welcoming gnomes in to share their real estate. Even the Royal Horticultural Society have seen the light, bowed to the inevitable and lifted its long standing ban on garden gnomes. Will you?