With Gnomeo and Juliet coming out on DVD, I've got garden gnomes on my mind. What's their story? And are there offbeat options, beside the licensed version from the movie you see here (just $74.95 at Garden Fun for the full set -- just what you need, right?).
Garden gnomes originated in Germany in the 19th century, then brought to England in 1847 by a guy who thought English gardens didn't have enough crazy stuff going on. It wasn't 'til the 1930s that they took off here, in the US, but there are some serious gnome enthusiasts out there.
More from The Stir: Lawn Ornaments That Assault The Senses
If you're feeling gnomey yourself, don't feel like you are limited to the cute end of the spectrum. There are some verrrry unusual gnomes out there.
Take steps to protect your gnomes, though. Kooky groups have popped up around the world to "liberate" garden gnomes and release them into the wild. One prank led to a popular movement called "gnoming," in which someone steals a garden gnome, takes pictures of it in various locations, and sends those pictures back to the gnome's original owner -- like "Flat Stanley," but weirder. And yeah, that's where Travelocity got the idea for their corporate mascot.
This guy is safe to have near your lettuce and carrots, because he only eats ... BRAAAAINS! The Etsy store says they're sold out, but the artist makes them on demand. And he's very popular. Go figure. $49 at DougFX/Etsy Steampunk Gnome
Those of us who frequent geeky events like Maker Faire know that "steampunk" is a nerd-chic trend -- people dress as if they are futuristic science-fiction characters from about 1895. Well, count this gnome in on the trend. $39.95 at Garden Gnome World
More from The Stir: Dead Plants + Spray Paint = Cool Winter Garden Idea!
Wondering what garden gnomes looked like before their mass-production makeover? Look no further than this historical reproduction based on one made in 1890s Germany. $49.95 at Kimmel Gnomes
Because you have nothing better to do with your lawn than pay for the privilege of providing free advertising to a travel company, right? $59.95 for 18" (smaller available, too) at Garden Fun
This gnome makes a snoring noise, and it's motion-activated. So I would say its primary purpose is to scare the living crap out of raccoons and sneaky teenagers at 3 a.m. $43.95 at Gnometown USA
More from The Stir: Magical Treehouses Have Me Daydreaming About Summer
I would like to see the Venn diagram of the intersection of people who are die-hard baseball fans and people who are die-hard gnome fans. I am imagining a rather small subset, but maybe I'm wrong. $26.95 atGnome Frenzy (and really, can I just point out that the best part of this article is the names of the gnome stores?).
"Digging for Worms" Garden Gnome
Really? Digging for worms? Have I been living in San Francisco too long, or is that just NOT what this gnome brings to mind? And why do I not think my neighbors would be "amused and delighted" by this guy's "plumber's crack"? At least he's not flipping the bird (NSFW!). $17.98 at Prank Place
Do these gnomes make you want to get a bigger garden? Or move to an apartment house with no grass in sight?
Images via Garden Fun, DougFX/Etsy, Garden Gnome World, Kimmel Gnomes, Garden Fun,Gnometown USA, Gnome Frenzy, and Prank Place
Gardening: Past-time or Survival Skill?
Khloe Kardashian Goes High Tech on New DIY Show
Stealing ... And a Few Non-Illegal Ways to Plant a Garden
By Far the Scariest Bug You'll See All Summer