Back in 2016, I wrote my first post about the gnomes in Pennsylvania and Steve Hoke, the man who built them homes in a state park. After that, I wrote two additional posts, the last one in 2019 after receiving an email from Steve about the successful relocation of the gnomes. Well, earlier this week, I received another communiquè from Steve and it reminded me that I haven’t written about the gnomes in ages! Since my previous posts, readers have come and readers have gone, but probably only a handful will remember the gnomes. First, Steve’s letter, then my 2018 post which covers most of the story!
“Hi Jill! Just wanted to update you on the Gnome Homes. They continue to thrive in local parks, 7 countries and 11 states. To date I’ve made about 250, most of which have been donated to non-profits for fundraising purposes. They have raised many thousands of dollars which we are very proud of. To our surprise, they remain very popular. We thought the interest would wane after a few years and now 7 years later the Gnomes and their home continue to bring smiles to the faces of young and old. Take care and stay safe and healthy. Steve”
It all started in Little Buffalo State Park, in Pennsylvania, with a kind, retired gentleman, Steve Hoke, who noticed that a group of gnomes had made the park their home. Being somewhat of a handyman, Mr. Hoke built several little homes for the gnomes – 38 to be precise. The gnome homes were a huge hit with the gnomes, as well as with visitors to the park. It was soon determined that more than 100 gnomes were living in the park! Children of all ages set aside their video games and came to the park to delight in seeing the little homes and occasionally even catching a glimpse of a gnome (gnomes, you know, are very shy).
Well, it wasn’t long before the park manager, Jason Baker, decided that the gnomes and their homes had to go, for he claimed the extra visitors were … wait for it … “packing down the dirt in the park” and disturbing the wildlife. Mr. Baker, by the way, is a descendant of Ebenezer Scrooge. So, the gnomes were evicted and Mr. Hoke retrieved the tiny little homes. But then the following month I received an email from Mr. Hoke, who had seen my original piece, and he informed me that he had managed to re-home the gnomes in local community parks where they were living quite happily. If you’re interested, here are the links to the original story:
Part I – The Gnomes Have Lost Their Homes
Part II – Update: The Gnomes Have New Homes!!!
Well, I have never forgotten Mr. Hoke and the gnomes, and then today I came across a story about an entire gnome village in California! The village is located on the campus of California State University in Carson, California, and was the brainchild of Peter Chance, one of the campus groundsmen.
It all came about back in 2014 when the university found that during periods of heavy rain, runoff and erosion on a small hillock near the health center were clogging up the drainpipes with silt. No solution had been found yet when Mr. Chance related that for a long time he had been working on an idea, rather a dream.
“I remember walking down here one day and thinking it would be awesome to put a miniature village or fairy garden or FernGully. I’ve seen it in the back of my mind for years. I just would stand here and imagine: a house could go here, that could go here, and I started seeing some of the little nooks.”
The university gave the green light, and Chance, along with his fellow groundsmen Fernando Goncalves and Chris Evans, began transforming the hillside into a tiny village, using materials found at the university’s Physical Plant.The principal gnome building was created using a broken concrete electrical box; another gnome house was built using a tree stump and a plant-pot saucer topped with moss. They used small pieces of redwood to build stairways, doors and bridges, and leftover infield clay from the baseball diamond for the tiny roads and pathways. They then decorated the village with miniature plants, a spattering of bonsai trees (Chance is a bonsai specialist), and some large mushrooms, providing plenty of shade for the gnomes.All this creativity, of course, would have been for naught if the erosion continued. And no self-respecting gnome would live in a village with a landslide problem. So the team used baby’s tears (Soleirolia soleirolii, a plant with a moss-like appearance) as the main ground covering, which would help improve water retention and prevent silt from reaching the drains. Then, at the bottom of the village, they built a simulated dry riverbed filled with dead plant material, which would help hold back the silt while allowing water to filter through.
Not only did the village solve the erosion problem, it also added plenty of charm to the university campus. Today, the gnome village continues to thrive and grow, and Peter Chance and his team are always thinking of more details to add to the miniature hillside settlement.
No word on how many gnomes are living in the village – gnomes are hard to count, for they dart in and out, especially when humans with cameras are around. But they certainly have wonderful little village, don’t they?
Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!