Elizabeth Licata at Garden Rant made a very interesting point about the ongoing garden gnome invasion, particularly her quote “It’s an interesting paradox: the most fanciful products of the human imagination are marketed to consumers as a way to replace imagination.” It’s something the Czarina and I have discussed quite often, on our human need to make threatening figures cute and friendly. I’m sure that my paternal ancestors along the England/Scotland border from 500 years ago or so would have laughed themselves sick at the idea of welcoming the fey into their houses and gardens, but we’re also a culture that’s okay with sparkling vampires and cuddly Cthulhus.
Now, it’s not just that I’m a firm advocate of making gardens potentially threatening again. I also loathe garden gnomes, with the possible exception of one that yells “It’s a hippie he’s killed! Hey, everybody, he’s killed a hippie!” at passersby.
My friend Debbie Middleton feels the same way I do about garden gnomes, but she’s a firm proponent for lawn flamingos. She and her best friend conduct neighborhood sorties to aggravate the other, leaving tortured and mutilated plastic and ceramic fragments on the other’s front lawns and porches. I sympathize with Debbie, but I also figure that the war is already lost. How can flamongos stand against gnomes?
Now, the odds are improved by making flamingos less cutesy. Much like gnomes, flamingos have mutated from fairly impressive birds into pink hobbits; the only thing worse is the habit of turning hummingbirds, some of the most cantankerous and belligerent avians on the planet, into charming garden art. (Anyone who’s actually spent time around hummingbirds knows that most have no fear whatsoever of man, beast, or god, and the Aztecs portrayed their war god Huitzilopochtli as a hummingbird for good reason.) Real flamingos aren’t exactly war machines, but they’re still a match for a group of gnomes. We need to pep them up a bit.
Thankfully, palaeontology offers a few options, keeping the basic theme, and in the process making your garden into something that would have scared the hell out of Edward Drinker Cope. We can go for a bigger wingspan or better filter-feeding ability. We can shift families a touch and go big. Or we can go postal or go Aotearoa. We can even go point-blank surreal.
(That sound you hear in the background? That’s the sound of the Czarina, weeping bitterly into her breakfast tea while reading this.)
Even better, you have possibilities for scenes with this sort of lineup. Really dislike the fact that your neighbors constantly peek over the fence? Give them something to scream about. After all, there’s no reason why you can’t re-enact the inevitable gnome/flamingo war in resin and metal, with just the right Late Seventies/really bad cocaine design, right?
Alternately, there’s no reason why you couldn’t do this with a Texas theme, using Ray Harryhausen for inspiration.
(Again, that sound? That’s the sound of the Czarina’s extremely sharp elbows sliding out of their sheathes, moments before she plants both into the top of my head. This may or may not be accompanied by her bellowing “WAIT A MINUTE, Sparky!” seconds before she strikes.)
I’d best stop while I’m ahead. I’m truly afraid that this might go too far, and someone gets the bright idea of mixing garden design with Warhammer 40,000 gaming. I don’t think our species’s collective psyche could handle the strain.