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Published: Thursday, 6/15/2006

Garden Gnome Popularity Explosion

Garden gnomes are expanding in numbers. At one point only a few families in your area likely had garden gnomes keeping a watchful eye out on their front landscapes. Today, there are dozens or more who welcome these quirky statues into their gardens.

Just what are gnomes, you ask? A gnome is a mythical creature characterized by small stature and living underground. Some believe that they bring good luck, while other traditions state they are simply small, mischievous sprites or goblins. However you view them, they ve been immortalized by ceramic or plastic statues that many people have been placing in their gardens for years.

Garden gnomes seem to have originated in craftsmen towns in Germany. The village of Graefenroda, tucked in the forests of the eastern German state of Thuringia, claims to be the birthplace of the garden gnome, which local folklore says was dreamed up by a potter in 1880. Once considered campy or even strange lawn ornaments, along the lines of plastic pink flamingoes, garden gnomes are now being embraced due to the alternate lives these gnomes may lead.

As of late it has become au courant to liberate gnomes from their position in the garden and send them on whirlwind adventures around the world. Many a prankster has borrowed a gnome from a neighbor s house and taken him or her on as a companion on a vacation or other adventure. In fact, some even document the travels and then send back photos or video to the unaware homeowner. As a result, some gnome-lovers have purchased garden gnomes for the express purpose of having them liberated.

Garden gnomes have become so popular that they can be found everywhere, from high-end department stores to budget-buy discount centers. They come in all sorts of sizes and varieties, but are unmistakeable in their appearance -- you ll recognize a gnome with his bushy beard and his pointy hat as soon as you see one. Visit your local garden center if you want to add a gnome to your front landscape.

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