Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Jackie Llewelyn-Bowen

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The Chelsea Gnome:

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen creates gnome for Chelsea Flower Show. For years it was something to be ashamed of. Something to hide from your neighbours and close family. But that could all be about to change. Since an early age, flamboyant designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has harboured a love of garden gnomes."I'm a gnomesexual," he said. "They stole my heart when I was young. I was at a very elegant house that was my aunty's in Kent and there was a gnome, and I thought it was fantastic to have this naughty piece of folklore in the corner of a garden. "I remember asking for a gnome once and people were appalled. I have to say my mother was sympathetic and there was a bit of gnome pride."For the first time in its 208-year-old history, the Royal Horticultural Society has lifted its ban on gnomes. In fact, the Chelsea Flower Show is placing them centre stage. So much so that there's a celebrity gnome-painting competition with entries from Dame Maggie Smith, Rob Brydon, Downton creator Julian Fellowes, and of course Laurence. Naturally, he's extremely excited. "They're so funny and cheeky and they always look as though they are up to no good under a dock leaf," he said. "If you're going to have a gnome then do have a classy, well made one."I've turned mine into a grand oil painting that would sit happily in any grand venue such as Cirencester Park or indeed Buckingham Palace. It took me four days to make.I've turned it into a 17th century landscape. "I made it look very posh even though actually it's just a plastic gnome that I bought in Northern Ireland." The question is will Laurence be going the whole hog and dress up as one of his favourite garden ornaments? "That was a filthy rumour," he says. "In fact I did have a panicked call from my tailor. But I'm going to keep everyone guessing.


A small taste of what the Llewelyn-Bowen’s have been up to…
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