Ship stuck in the Suez fiasco hits home for gardeners

Erin Schanen

I, like many, followed the saga of the enormous cargo ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal with a combination of intrigue and humor. How could you not laugh a little at the photo of a the massive piece of machinery working to dig the ship out that looked more like a toy next to the hulking bow of Ever Given, a 1,300-foot-long cargo ship carrying more than 18,000 containers? 

Well, enjoy that giggle now, because I’m about to tell you something that, depending on your position on a controversial garden accessory, could make the Suez Canal blockage a very serious matter.

Among the nearly billion dollars of goods caught up in the massive delay in the canal was, apparently, garden gnomes. The quirky little statues are nowhere to be found in the UK, where they are so important that new gardeners have been buying them in droves over the last year. But these days there are no gnomes to be found.

I haven’t found any information on the status of gnomes stateside, but if they are also in short supply there’s no telling what some gardeners may do. People have serious opinions about gnomes. You either love them or you hate them. There is no gray area when it comes to gnomes.

Those who love them consider them whimsical stewards of the garden. Legend has it that gnomes protect gardens and bring good luck, but more than one gnome caretaker has blamed them for the occasional garden mishap. I couldn’t find statistics to back up my suspicion that 99% of all gnomes have names and 75% of them also have middle names. 

There is no such endearment for those on the other side of the gnome love-hate divide. For them, the diminutive trolls are nothing more than tacky yard art. And don’t get them started on multiple gnomes in one garden, particularly if they are arranged in such a way to suggest they are holding gnome court.

Don’t tell that to movie studios that have made a mint on animated gnome movies, including two called — I kid you not — “Gnomeo and Juliet” and “Sherlock Gnomes” — that feature A-list actors voicing gnome statues come to life.

So maybe it’s no surprise that gardeners have such a soft spot for the little guys and girls, called gnomesses (again, not kidding) that a shortage of gnomes might be the thing that puts them over the edge. Toilet paper, oil and gas supplies have also been affected by the canal blockage, but don’t mess with the gnomes.

Ever Given and its crew, who are also stuck on the ship as it is trapped in legal limbo, may not be going anywhere for awhile. It sounds like a miserable experience, but one of those 18,000 containers could be full of gnomes. Just imagine how much fun the crew could have giving them all names. First and middle names, of course.

In the meantime, gardens will have to survive without their fierce troll protectors. And I suspect the gnome haters will manage to weather the storm just fine.


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