I’m supporting the garden gnome.
My campaign started the other week when I heard that the RHS was banning all gnomes from the Tatton Park Flower Show. The news was so shocking that the Today Programme on Radio 4 decided to quarry for the truth and an RHS spokesman was invited to comment.
And so there it was on national radio, at a peak listening time, the pronouncement that garden gnomes were not welcome at Tatton Park.
This begged the question ‘why?’ The reply was a simple four words ‘Garden gnomes are tacky.’
That was it, in one short breath, the nation’s favourite garden ornament was an outcast. But there was more to come Adding insult to injury the said spokesman went on to say that if any of them were found on any stand, or lurking in any garden at Tatton Park Flower Show (due to open the next day or so) that they would be confiscated.
We’ve had to live with gnomeless Chelsea Flower Shows, and that’s all down to a small clause in the show schedule; article 15 to give it its correct label, which forbids quote ‘highly coloured figures, gnomes, fairies or any similar creatures, actual or mythical for use as garden ornaments’ unquote.
Could it be that if they didn’t have red hats and blue trousers then they’d be OK, Or perhaps if they had no clothes on at all, just like that duo of life sized male bronze statues at last year’s Chelsea, would that be OK? I suspect not. It seems that if an ornament carries a price tag of a few thousand quid, then it’s art and if it costs a mere £3.50 or less, then its tacky. Just to remove any confusion, the dictionary definition of tacky is shabby or shoddy: ostentatious and vulgar.
So, it’s now official. Garden gnomes are tacky: we heard it on national radio, and so it must be true!
But who said so? No one asked for my opinion, and if they didn’t ask you either, then that’s two opinions ignored.
So what’s actually wrong with them? It’s not as if they’re some new fangled fad as they’ve been around for a long time. Originating from Germany, the first garden gnomes were seen in this country as far back as the 1890’s.
The Germans had kept their gnomen figuren inside the house, but Sir Charles decided otherwise.
His first ‘display’ of them depicted a tableau of striking miners, and if you visit Lamport Hall today you’ll see that one of these figures survives.
Today they continue to be immensly popular, and millions of them are lovingly dotted around pots and plants the length of the country. There’s even a Gnome Reserve in Devon……
What do you think?
Valerie McBride Munro is a qualified horticulturist. She offers unique and personal tuition sessions explaining the whys and wherefores of good gardening techniques, in your own garden.
© 2012 Valerie McBride-Munro