It all started when 85-year-old Louis from Turnhout received Betty as a gift from a neighbour. Louis placed Betty in his front garden where she joined Rafke, a male gnome. But then local officials passed by and insisted poor Betty either got clothed or moved to the back garden. A media storm then erupted.
Betty the Gnome and Rafke come from a local garden centre. Proprietor Jef Pelckmans told VRT that due to all the commotion the gnomes had sold out. “Within a couple of days all the gnomes were sold out and our supplier says he can’t get hold of any more. We’ve ordered smaller versions to meet the demand.”
Betty’s fate hasn’t only stirred the hearts of people in Belgium. On Thursday Mr Pelckmans got a call from several English radio stations wondering if the story was true. He has also received enquiries from the Netherlands and is a bit puzzled by all the commotion: “If a naked garden gnome would be beyond the pale, what about Manneken Pis or the huge statue of a naked woman on the local courts of justice?”
Britain’s MailOnline carries the story with a link to flandersnews, but Betty and a number of more explicit ‘garden ornaments’ are hot news in Taiwan too. Austria’s Heute has even devoted a poll to the story and if our German were any better we’d tell you more about that. Even in Brazil Betty is now a star.