Thursday, June 24, 2010

Clean Up Your Garden With a Gnome

My love of garden gnomes began as an extension of my love of foreign and especially French films.  Amélie is a film set in one of my favorite places, Montmartre.  Montmartre is the neighborhood closest to Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, the highest point in Paris.  Amélie is a shy young French girl trying to find herself in spite of difficult family circumstances.  A sub plot of the movie involves Amélie stealing her father's garden gnome and have pictures of the gnome sent from all over the world to lure him to follow his dream of world travel.

After the movie Amélie was released, there were quite a few "look alike" garden gnome kidnappings. One police officer's friends who were helping with the search and investigation, were also responsible for taking his garden gnome.
Active, cheery garden gnomes in Germany
Garden gnomes were created in Thuringia, Germany in the mid 1800s.  Gnomes were designed for gardeners who needed a bit of help with their gardens in the wee hours.  The garden gnome gained popularity in England and France and eventually in other places where gardeners needed assistance.  In Germany, garden gnomes are sold at road side garden statue stands ... and they're not at all like the small ones sold in the US.  (In fact, no garden statues found at these road side stands are small ... not even replica statues of Michaelangelo's David.)  Each one is a poetic expression in terra cotta.

When I saw the hillside garden above, located in Germany's Black Forest near Lake Titisee (no, I did not make that up), my eyes about popped.  Since the Black Forest region is believed to be haunted by werewolves, sorcerers, witches and the devil, these adorable gnomes may help to offset energy of the evil creatures. Regardless, that yard must look intriguing by the light of the harvest full moon.

Oh ... you don't like garden gnomes? Kitsch you say? Well, you are not alone!  The garden gnome is most controversial in British gardening circles.  Hyacinth Bucket (Keeping Up Appearances) undoubtedly would veto a gnome's presence in her English garden.  Thought to be tacky and unrefined, garden gnomes have been banished from the Chelsea Garden Show in England because organizers believe gnomes detract from garden design.

Still ... I persist.  I think they're cute, and I want at least one, a real German one. And St. Francis agrees. If a gnome does not appear sooner, I'll be spending the weekend in the flower beds. {oui}

St. Francis would welcome an authentic German garden gnome to help with midnight garden clean up.

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