How Did Garden Gnomes Become So Popular?

Everyone knows about garden gnomes. Chances are that on the street you grew up in, there’s at least one garden featuring a gnome. 

Perhaps you’ve purchased your own gnomes to adorn your property as a result of the little creatures you’ve seen in gardens throughout your life. 

Have you ever wondered where this trend began? As it turns out, garden gnomes are way more than just a trend—they’re a fixture in gardens worldwide, dating back to the 1700s. Their history proves that they’re much more than just a little ceramic figure in your flower beds.

Today, we’re sharing the interesting history of the ubiquitous garden gnome. 

Origins of the Garden Gnome

In Switzerland and Germany, artisans began carving little figurines out of wood or shaped porcelain to decorate their homes. These small humanoid figures became known as gnomes, dwarves, or “little folk,” and were often used in storytelling. Locals used these figurines in their homes and businesses, and they rapidly became tourist purchases that Europeans traveled to different countries for so that they could acquire and display them. 

Characteristics of Garden Gnomes

It’s widely believed that these gnomes began first as a fairy tale or legend about the “little folk” that would help and cause mischief around a home or farm. These small creatures were generally benevolent, but also a little mischievous and secretive. Unexplained damage or success in a home or garden could be attributed to the dwarves or gnomes. When physical representations of these “little folk” were created, many individuals happily began purchasing and displaying them as a nod to the folk legends. 

Generally, gnomes are represented as male, with white hair and beards, oversized noses, and the signature red cap. These pointed caps are known as the “phrygian cap” and have become synonymous with these little yard ornaments. 

Gnomes as Yard Ornaments

Wealthy aristocrats in England began making gnomes popular as lawn ornaments after traveling to mainland Europe. They brought back these little porcelain, wood, or terracotta figurines and placed them in their luxurious gardens, beginning a trend. It quickly spread throughout the country, eventually becoming popular in lower-and middle-class homes. In fact, a high-end gardening contest once banned these gnomes because they seemed too kitsch and took attention away from the actual gardening; however, they reversed their decision after angry responses from the community. 

Nowadays, there’s a wide range of options for garden gnome lawn ornaments, varying in size, shape, pose, and design. Gnomes add a fun and whimsical element to your garden, especially when understated and slightly hidden, as an homage to the folk legends of “little folk.” 

Your Yard, Your Way with LaytonScape

Garden gnomes may be popular, but if you’re looking to bring some personality and development to your yard, it’s time to meet with professionals to bring your ideas to life. LaytonScape works with homeowners to create beautiful and functional landscaping that expresses their personality and attracts the eye. See what we can do for you. We serve Davis, Morgan, Weber, and Summit counties in Utah.

LaytonScape Utah Landscaping Company