Ketchup packets. Tapioca pearls. Garden gnomes. What do all three of these have in common? They are just the latest products experiencing shortages due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions. You probably heard about the container vessel that got stuck in the Suez Canal last month, right? While we were all laughing at memes and wondering how, in the year 2021, a big boat could get stuck and there was absolutely nothing modern technology could do about it, the global supply chain was getting absolutely wrecked. And the ramifications of the Suez Canal blockage have landed where we least expected them: our gardens.
Love them or hate them, garden gnomes are a staple of quirky (creepy?) yards everywhere, as ubiquitous as the hot pink plastic flamingo. Since the coronavirus pandemic started, gardening centers have experienced record sales, and recent reports show they’re not slowing down anytime soon. Between the Suez Canal blockage and unprecedented demands, garden centers in the U.K. have a severe shortage of, yes, garden gnomes. My theory? Cottagecore, the growing aesthetic trend in design and on social media, is to blame. Cottagecore gestures at English countryside houses and charming gardens, and what’s more quaint than a collection of stately garden gnomes?
Whoever—or whatever—is truly to blame for the shortage, you’re unlikely to find gnomes in shops this summer, especially if you’re across the pond. While there’s no place like gnome, there are many other ways to decorate your garden and outdoor living space. If plastic flamingos aren’t your vibe, here are a few more modern, yet still very quaint, favorites: