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 From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes

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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Mon 23 Dec 2013, 11:14

The humble garden gnome is the poor man's hermit, once hired by the wealthy to live at the end of the garden path?

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/12/2013/the-hermit-in-the-garden

I didn't know this and often wondered how the gnome tradition began, it seems both hired hermits and gnomes have their roots in ancient Rome. 



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Nielsen
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Mon 23 Dec 2013, 11:23

Often I've thought that the seccond of your pictures, ID, may show some of the concern you show on these pictures for those among us here, who occasionally show disagreement with you.

Thanks be, that you haven't put it in a small lake with water spouting out between the cheeks, a kind of opposite Manneken Pis ...


Regarding garden gnomes - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGZif1QDJeQ
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Mon 23 Dec 2013, 11:37

Nielsen wrote:
Often I've thought that the seccond of your pictures, ID, may show some of the concern you show on these pictures for those among us here, who occasionally show disagreement with you.

Nah, not me Nielsen. That would be most unlady-like behaviour  Embarassed
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Mon 23 Dec 2013, 11:38

Nielson wrote:
 Often I've thought that the seccond of your pictures, ID, may show some of the concern you show on these pictures for those among us here, who occasionally show disagreement with you.


 Smile
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Mon 23 Dec 2013, 12:05


And especially seeing ID's pic I do wonder if there isn't a connection between garden gnomes and the Roman god Priapus, who was a common feature of Roman gardens.

I would include a photo of a statue ... but I don't want to offend sensibilities.  Smile 
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Nielsen
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Mon 23 Dec 2013, 12:26

Islanddawn wrote:
Nielsen wrote:
Often I've thought that the seccond of your pictures, ID, may show some of the concern you show on these pictures for those among us here, who occasionally show disagreement with you.

Nah, not me Nielsen. That would be most unlady-like behaviour  Embarassed

Well, ID, somehow I could imagine you just giving a hint of the idea to someone else, then you could have a well-rehearsed, lady-like faint, when the waters suddenly broke in front of you - and behind the gnome ...
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Mon 23 Dec 2013, 16:09

Meles meles wrote:

And especially seeing ID's pic I do wonder if there isn't a connection between garden gnomes and the Roman god Priapus, who was a common feature of Roman gardens.

I would include a photo of a statue ... but I don't want to offend sensibilities.  Smile 

Good point MM, in appearances there are some similarities to Priapus. Protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens, male genitalia and merchant seamen.  Smile 

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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Mon 23 Dec 2013, 19:48

Talking of.................. merchant seamen, where is Normanhurst?
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Mon 23 Dec 2013, 21:25

Yes, I was wondering that yesterday too. Hope he is all right.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Thu 02 Jan 2014, 14:14

We have the Romans to thank - or blame - for another piece of annoying garden ornamentation, topiary. Pliny the Elder actually names the culprit who first thought it would be a good idea to chop perfectly fine bushes and hedges into obscure shapes, a certain Cnaeus Matius Calvinus, one of Augustus Caesar's close mates (is there something about the name Calvin that just corrupts the bearer I wonder?).


This one probably wasn't a great hit in ancient Rome after the Hannibal thingy.

Martial was a bit more complimentary about the bloke when he also made reference to Calvinus and his clipping fetish in one of his epigrams (most likely because Calvinus was so in with the big lad in Rome and Martial hoped to be too). However Pliny does little to disguise his disgust (Augustus was dead by then), or maybe he just had a thing against dwarfs;

"For we find in Italy some plane-trees, which are known as chamæplatani, in consequence of their stunted growth; for we have discovered the art of causing abortion in trees even, and hence, even in the vegetable world we shall have occasion to make mention of dwarfs, an unprepossessing subject in every case. This result is obtained in trees, by a peculiar method adopted in planting and lopping them. C. Matius, a member of the Equestrian order, and a friend of the late Emperor Augustus, invented the art of clipping arbours, within the last eighty years."

BTW - Meles meles, you might be interested in Calvinus's other claim to fame. Apparently he was the Nigella Lawson of his day (though maybe without the nose dandruff) in that his cookery book was a runaway bestseller and allegedly the last word in orgy-catering etc amongst the nobility. Alas not a single copy remains.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Thu 02 Jan 2014, 17:38

So I guess Pliny wouldn't have approved .... today I pruned the trees around the pool, "à la chamæplatani ". My trees are white mulberries (Morus alba) and around here they are often pruned hard as are the more common plane trees ("plantane" in French - Platanus orientalis ) to gradually develop into dendritic parasols. I'm quite proud of mine: the spread of each tree is now just about twice the tree's height, and the crowns are basically flat/non-existant:



... I realise it's not true topiary but it's probably closer to what Pliny was moaning about when he talks about, "lopping .... and clipping arbours".

And I'm not really a tree nazi ... most of my trees are encouraged to grow untrained and unpruned to achieve their full potential.
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Thu 02 Jan 2014, 19:19

The Romans never seemed to go through a simple pruning phase - at least not in Calvinus's case. His villa in Tuscany was renowned for its bushes shaped like animals, birds and even notable personages of the period. But then we tend to have a false sense of Roman aesthetic sensibilities which were much more difficult to offend than our own - I believe when they were making the "Rome" TV series a few years ago they had to abandon their original plan of being ultra-realistic with regard to the gaudily painted statues and pillars and replace a lot of them with the ones bleached white with age to which we have become accustomed as "standard" thanks to centuries of erroneous representation in paintings and films. The real ones just wouldn't "look" true to a modern audience and in the opinion of the producers would have made Rome look just too "kitschy". It led to some weird continuity problems when pillars were featured in close-up and long shot, I believe, some scenes having already been shot before the Rome film set was put into "classical" mode.

Realism, huh?
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PostSubject: Re: From Hermitages to Garden Gnomes   Sun 26 Oct 2014, 20:31

Gnomes do not really belong to folklore, so they cannot be classed alongside fairies, brownies, and goblins. They actually belong to dead science and are personifications of the four  elements. Gnomes, Sylphs, Salamanders, and Nereids respectively represent the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Gnomes in fact were supposed to live underground and have the ability to travel through earth as if it was air. Their main task was to guard treasure and rich minerals and were similar to mine spirits such as Knockers and Dwarfs.
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