If talking about any traditional, old-school European gardening designs, the first image that comes to everyone’s head supposed to be those little garden gnomes with silly faces and red hats placed somewhere under a tree. The garden gnomes are widely popular around the world and their history is very long, so they might be called a classical feature of gardening. But have you ever wondered why gnomes and why in a garden? How these some plastic figures gained the world-wide popularity and why people still using them?

Gnomes in folklore

According to plenty of tales, legends, myths, and folklore, gnomes are mythical creatures who look like a little man and guard some treasures. Usually, gnomes live underground or in the woods, they are working as miners and, usually, are friendly to human beings. These figures are very popular European tales and can be found in many German, Danish, Norwegian, Spanish and English fairy tales. 

Usually, the image of gnomes is very similar as they have long, white beards, wear simple clothes of medieval style and have red hats. The female gnomes supposed to have long hair, the same hat, and a simple dress. However, the female version of gnomes is not so widely popular in folklore. As gnomes might live in the woods, they tend to be closely related to nature. As a result, the image of gnome can be mixed with images of animals, berries, mushrooms, and trees as well as some natural stones and precious minerals.

Garden gnomes

As gnomes were responsible for land treasures and a good harvest in many German tales, there is no surprise that these figures became very popular amongst the German people when Phillip Giebel made the first garden gnome from terracotta clay in the middle of 1800. He designed a very traditional-looking gnome that might be used as a little funny symbol in a garden. People just felt in love with those cheerful little figures and the popularity of garden gnomes was spread around middle Europe and England very fast.

The mass production of garden gnomes was started in the 1870s. Philipp Griebel and August Heissner were two of the most popular manufacturers and later became a quality ensuring brands of garden gnomes around the world. In order to make these gardening figures cheaper, the plastic versions of gnomes were introduced, so more people were able to afford this mass production.

These days gnomes can be found in all sorts of different designs and roles. The funny and naughty gnomes became widely popular in the USA. Modern gnomes are not related to woods only, it is possible to find figures of gnomes who are riding motorcycles, taking sunbaths or even partying. The materials that gnomes are made of can vary from clay or cement to plastic and natural stones. Some gnomes can be used for the purpose of outdoor illumination or watering plants. The range of price can be from few euros up to a few thousand as it depends on the design, brand, and material.