Marking the seasons : an Autumn gnome garden

Autumn is my favourite season. It’s the colours, the dewy mornings and spiders’ webs, the chill in the air and nature’s bounty revealing itself to us. For me it’ll always be the time of year for new boots, sharpened pencils and a fresh start.

My daughters love to pick up shiny acorns, smooth conkers, a perfect pinecone or a ruby red leaf and bring them home.

The local nature reserve is one of our favourite spots to walk.

When the children were younger we simply added these treasures to the seasonal table and the growing pile grew until I culled it. It always felt a bit ‘meh’ to simply pop these bits in the compost bin without ceremony or end.

Walking in the mist of an early Autumn day.

Now, we have a much more exciting Autumn seasonal table and this is what happens to the treasures once they come into our house – and it is so much fun! It is an idea that I picked up from All Year Round – read my book review here.

This year’s Gnome garden is just getting going!

Each year we set up a Gnome garden on the seasonal table, complete with a cave made from rocks and bark, bare branches and pinecones. As the years have gone on we have added more symbols of the season, such as painted toadstools, my leaf babies and hand carved wooden mice.

As we find treasures we bring them home and present them to the gnomes to store in their cave. I make a game of this and move the gnomes and treasures around when the girls are asleep which just adds to the magic!

Fire gnomes are made from pinecones and are super easy to make.

We will also make seasonal crafts to add to the store – such as corn dollies, fire gnomes and leaf bunting. At Michaelmas we also have a visit from a dragon and St Michael!

I had great fun making the dragon!

However, my favourite part of this tradition is November 5th. On this day we celebrate Guy Fawkes and his failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament with our own miniature bonfire. We use the chiminea in the garden and gather round with the gnomes to say goodbye to Autumn with a ritual fire. Great delight is shared by all as we burn the shrivelled leaves, dull conkers and dried acorns. We also put our fire gnomes in the fire and the glow from their pinecone bodies is truly spectacular.

Saying farewell to our Gnome garden.

Autumn is a fleeting season, and the treasures loose their shine by November, there is something wonderful about marking the end of the season in this way. It also adds a meaning to the collecting for the gnomes and encourages my girls to spot and notice the Autumn treasures around them.

I hope this inspires you to have a go at setting up a Gnome garden this year! Let me know how you get on and tag me on Instagram (@polly_had_a_dolly).

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