Gnomes, along with other ‘brightly coloured mythical creatures’ such as fairies and pixies, have been banned from the prestigious flower show for 100 years because the RHS claim that they are too distracting for visitors who have come to see the beautiful flowers and plants.
Many people however, believe that the real reason for the ban is snobbery with garden gnomes considered to be too “tacky” for Chelsea. In fact every year, it’s not uncommon to see people dressed as gnomes protesting at the gates of the flower show. Others have broken the rules, like herb garden expert Jekka McVicar who at her last exhibit in 2009 included a gnome in her display as an act of defiance.
This year, not only are the RHS permitting garden gnomes to be displayed, they are wholly embracing the concept as part of their centenary celebrations. Many famous celebrities including Dame Maggie Smith and Rob Brydon have been invited to paint gnomes which will feature in the show before being auctioned off to raise money for the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. 150 of the decorated gnomes will also be lined up in parade for inspection by the Queen during her royal visit.
So far the public’s reaction to this U-turn has been very positive, with many thinking it’s about time the ban was lifted, not least because the garden gnome is far older than the show itself. Talking to the Guardian newspaper, RHS Director-General Sue Biggs said: “It is important for people to realise we have got a sense of ¬humour and don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
But don’t get too excited – gnomes are only allowed in exhibits for the duration of this year’s Chelsea before the ban returns in 2014.
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