The Gnome Tree is located on Riverside Drive in Holly Hill, Florida, directly across from the entrance to San Robar Drive.
In 2003, Virginia Morris, a resident of Holly Hill asked permission of the City Council to allow three wandering gnomes to take up residence in a tall oak tree on Riverside Drive on the banks of the Halifax River.
“I was out walking my dog when the gnomes saw me and asked if they could live in that big, old tree,” Mrs. Morris said. “I knew that that type of tree is endangered, so I thought they should have permission first. Since they couldn’t go to City Hall themselves, I went to speak for them.”
With the approval of the Mayor and the City Commissioners, Virginia informed the gnomes they could set up camp at the base of the tree. Ms. Morris helped the gnomes build a small walkway leading up to the tree, as well as a tiny door to give the gnomes access to their new home.
When the local elementary school heard about the new citizens, they gave each of the gnomes names, including Hall, Lee, and Hill. A year later, another gnome named Harry Davidson, a motorcycling gnome got permission to move into the gnome tree. Soon after that a gnome called Grandpa joined the group.
As news about the gnomes spread, the gnome tree attracted people from around the country and the world to visit Holly Hill in hopes of getting a glimpse of the bearded figurines who sit at the base of the tree.
Some visitors to the tree leave notes for the gnomes. The notes are “beautiful and heartbreaking” and range from simple hellos and compliments to stories of everyday problems and family tragedies. Those who include their return address on their notes receive a postcard thanking them for their visit.
Gifts and other trinkets have also been left at the base of the tree. Children left drawings and toys while one adult left corn pipes, and tobacco for the gnomes to smoke.
In 2014, Virginia E. Morris, the official caretaker and Ambassador of the gnome tree turned 65-year-old. She donated all the notes left at the tree to the Holly Hill Museum to be put on display. Ms. Morris hopes the story of the gnome tree will continue to “spread joy, hope, and peace” to future visitors, long after she’s gone.
Gnome statues can be found on display inside the Holly Hill Preservation Society Museum at 1066 Ridgewood Avenue.
The Gnome Tree
Riverside Drive and San Robar Drive
Holly Hill (Daytona Beach), FL 32117
Holly Hill Historical Preservation Society (Facebook)