We know she’s not afraid to get her elegantly manicured hands dirty in the gardens of Highgrove House, the Gloucestershire stately home she shares with her husband, King Charles III. But who knew that Camilla, Queen Consort, is gathering an impressive collection of gnomes?
In a recent TV documentary to mark her 75th birthday Camilla, showed off an impressive array of garden ornaments at her own family home, Ray Mill House in Wiltshire.
These included a large tiger hidden in the hedgerow as it stalked a cockerel and a gnome. 'No place like gnome!', laughed Camilla as she pointed out the porcelain figure in peril.
And then she let out another Royal secret, saying her green-fingered husband has at least one as part of the garden decor in his Gloucestershire gardens. 'Actually the [then] Prince does at Highgrove, too – he’s got a gnome hidden away.'
Outed in public
Eagle-eyed Royal watchers might have already suspected Camilla’s love of gnomes. Snapped at the Great Yorkshire Show, a major summer event on the horticultural and agricultural calendar in northern England, she was spotted admiring a cheeky grey garden gnome named in her honor. And she also stopped to pat its friend, which went by the name of Charles, on the head.
Setting the trend
Camilla’s been collecting her gnomes for years, and she’s obviously been ahead of the curve because this quirky way to add interest to ordinary backyards has never been as popular.
According to one analysis of Google data, the number of searches for garden gnomes soared 1,000 per cent this summer, heralding the return of garden gnomes as a trend.
According to Jeff Layton, owner of Utah-based landscape company LaytonScapes, garden gnomes are way more than a modern trend: 'They’re a fixture in gardens worldwide, dating back to the 1700s when aristocrats started collecting them on their travels and using them to decorate their gardens back home.'
Gnomes, Jeff adds, started life in Switzerland and Germany, where artisans would carve little figurines out of wood or shaped them from porcelain. These would often be used to help tell children traditional folk tales, becoming much-loved tiny ‘family members’.
Up the fun factor in your yard with these quirky garden ornaments:
If a traditional garden gnome gets your vote, this handsome chap is worth a look. Measuring 12in high and made from artificial stone, he'll be perfectly placed near some patio planters.
Add a subtle glow to your flower bed with this solar-powered garden gnome. Once fully charged during the day, the decorative orb will gently glow for 6-8 hours a night.
Jayne Dowle is an award-winning gardening, homes and property writer who writes for publications including Sunday Times Home, Times Bricks & Mortar, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and The Spectator. She was awarded the Garden Journalist of the Year accolade at the Property Press Awards in 2021.
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