An unusual bit of gardening

The Weasleys teach Harry how to de-gnome a garden

Extract from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by J.K. Rowling

Yawning and grumbling, the Weasleys slouched outside with Harry behind them. The garden was large and, in Harry’s eyes, exactly what a garden should be. The Dursleys wouldn’t have liked it – there were plenty of weeds, and the grass needed cutting – but there were gnarled trees all around the walls, plants Harry had never seen spilling from every flowerbed and a big green pond full of frogs.

‘Muggles have garden gnomes, too, you know,’ Harry told Ron as they crossed the lawn.

‘Yeah, I’ve seen those things they think are gnomes,’ said Ron, bent double with his head in a peony bush. ‘Like fat little Father Christmases with fishing rods ...’

There was a violent scuffling noise, the peony bush shuddered and Ron straightened up.

'This is a gnome,’ he said grimly.

‘Gerroff me! Gerroff me!’ squealed the gnome.

It was certainly nothing like Father Christmas. It was small and leathery-looking, with a large, knobbly, bald head exactly like a potato. Ron held it at arm’s length as it kicked out at him with its horny little feet; he grasped it around the ankles and turned it upside-down.

‘This is what you have to do,’ he said. He raised the gnome above his head (‘Gerroff me!’) and started to swing it in great circles like a lasso. Seeing the shocked look on Harry’s face, Ron added, ‘It doesn’t hurt them – you’ve just got to make them really dizzy so they can’t find their way back to the gnomeholes.’

He let go of the gnome’s ankles: it flew twenty feet into the air and landed with a thud in the field over the hedge.

‘Pitiful,’ said Fred. ‘I bet I can get mine beyond that stump.’

Harry learned quickly not to feel too sorry for the gnomes. He decided just to drop the first one he caught over the hedge, but the gnome, sensing weakness, sank its razor-sharp teeth into Harry’s finger and he had a hard job shaking it off until –

‘Wow, Harry – that must’ve been fifty feet ...’

The air was soon thick with flying gnomes.

‘See, they’re not too bright,’ said George, seizing five or six gnomes at once. ‘The moment they know the de-gnoming’s going on they storm up to have a look. You’d think they’d have learned by now just to stay put.’

Soon, the crowd of gnomes in the field started walking away in a straggling line, their little shoulders hunched.

‘They’ll be back,’ said Ron, as they watched the gnomes disappear into the hedge on the other side of the field. ‘They love it here ... Dad’s too soft with them, he thinks they’re funny ...’


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By J.K. Rowling