CJ Sanders is a fourth generation gardener. His family owns the Garden Spot Nursery, where you will find more than fruits, vegetables and flowers blooming. Nestled beneath the foliage and garden décor, that you might expect at any nursery, you will find something very unique – little magical manors built for gnomes. "Whimsical, very fairytale, something you'd see out of Alice in Wonderland," describes CJ.
CJ built his first gnome home earlier this year as a way to create more storage space around the shop. "I kind of came up with a unique design for them." Sketched out on a restaurant napkin, CJ envisioned an asymmetrical, colorful wooden abode with crooked chimneys and windows, moss and exquisite detail. Days later, he brought his artistic vision to life and it caught the eyes of customers. "Everyone thought they were so cool and it just inspired me to build another" and another and another. It did not take long before patrons pleaded for their own, custom-designed, diminutive digs.
CJ's workshop is in the back of the nursery where you will find piles of debris. Most of his materials are reclaimed. He finds branches by the river and even uses shingles pulled from a friend's outdated roof. One house even included, "Mom's old bench at her house and it fell apart." He spends hours piecing together his findings. They range in size, themes and they are all one-of-a-kind. Some take upwards of a few weeks to create, but there is nothing CJ would rather do. "I can work all day and be stressed out and just go back there and lose time and just start building. It's a stress relief. It's my realm. I love it."
Clearly, he is not the only one. CJ's miniature abodes are popping up in backyard gardens all over town. CJ says adding a little happiness to peoples' lives is the biggest, little gift he can give. "It's more than they imagined it to be and that's the biggest compliment, for sure."
If you would like to see the gnome homes for yourself, stop by the Garden Spot Nursery at 900 South Rock Boulevard. You can place a custom order there. The homes range from $300-$2,000 depending on the size and detail.
Written by Kristen Remington