Your Year Around Flower and Garden Guide

Lawn Gnome

A familiar face in many yards

Have you seen the little man with the pointy hat standing in a neighborhood lawn? Although he bears a remarkable resemblance to a small person, he is actually a lawn gnome.

Gnomes have been on the planet for centuries; history dates them back to 1200BC. However, lawn and garden gnomes were made popular in Germany in the 1800's. From there, the gnome's humorous and affable personality has spread across the globe. In demeanor, the lawn gnome often resembles the folk of his adopted country and in different countries, he answers to different names… that is, if he chooses to answer at all!

  • lawn gnome
  • "A tiny little man stands in forest dim.
  • A funny little mantel he wears on him.
  • Who can this figure be standing 'neath the Greenwood tree
  • With his mantel hanging down to his knee?"

Engelbert Humperdinck's (1854-1921) sandman in the opera "Hansel & Gretel" was actually quite possibly a forest gnome or a lawn gnome that had returned to the forest to visit his birth tree. The original lawn gnomes were carved from wood, but today's lawn gnomes are more often than not made from molded plastic or ceramics. Still, true lawn gnomes have certain distinguishing characteristics. They are rarely over a foot tall and they all seemingly stare straight ahead, as they guard the yard of their adopted family.

Finding antique lawn gnomes can be expensive and difficult, but fortunately garden and home improvement centers have an abundance of inexpensive replicas. Nevertheless, if you do bring one home, you may want to find a way to secure it to its spot. Lawn gnomes have been known to wander off in the middle of the night and many of them are also victims of abduction, their silent screams inaudible to their human benefactors as they are carried away under the shadow of a crescent moon.