The Flower Clock

07/01/2013 15:42

Telling the time with a Flower Clock.

Botanists and gardeners had known for centuries that certain flowers open or close at the same time each day. But it was the eighteenth century Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, which wrote about this lovely idea, which he called “Horologium Florae”, literally means “Flower Clock”, in 1751 in the publication “Philosophia Botanica.”

He wrote about 3 types of flowers:
Meteorici ~ A category which changes their opening and closing times according to the weather conditions. Tropici ~ Flowers which change their opening and closing specifically to the length of the day. Aequinoctales ~ Most important here to this story, are the flowers having fixed times for opening and closing, regardless of weather or season. These are the only flowers to use in a Flower Clock.

It became popular in the 19th-Century for gardeners to plant 'flower clocks' in which the flowerbeds were laid out in a circle to form the clock face. The 'clock face' was divided into 12 segments, each of which contained flowers that either opened or closed in that one-hour time period. Today decorative and functional Flower Clocks exist in many parks, with hands operated by a clockwork mechanism, and the clock face simply planted with pretty flowers. Quite charming indeed.

You can try to create flower clock in your garden too. First you'll need to select some flowers that open and close at different times. Try to find plants that grow well in your area, ones that flower at the same time of year. Below is an example of popular plants whose blossoms open and close at specific hours.

2 a.m. ~ Common Morning Glory (opens) Night-Blooming Cereus (closes)

3 a.m. ~  Imperial Morning Glory (opens 3-4 a.m.)

4 a.m. ~ Yellow Hawkweed (opens) Dogrose, Chicory, Yellow Goats-Beard (opens 4-5 a.m.)

5 a.m. ~ Buttercups, Poppy (opens) Dandelion, Morning Glories, Wild Roses (opens 5-6 a.m.)

6 a.m. ~ Spotted Cat's Ear (opens) Flax (open 6-7  a.m.)

7 a.m. ~ African Marigold, White Water Lily ( opens)

8 a.m. ~ Mouse-Ear Hawkweed, Scarlet Pimpernel (opens) Dandelion (closes 8-9 a.m.)

9 a.m. ~ Calendula, Catchfly (opens) Prickly Sow Thistle (closes)

10 a.m. ~  Star-of-Bethlehem (opens 10-11 a.m.) California Poppies (open 10a.m.-1 p.m. only in sunlight)

11 a.m. ~ Star-of-Bethlehem (opens)

Noon ~ Goatsbeard, Blue Passion flower (opens) Morning Glories, Chicory (closes)

1 p.m. ~ Carnation (opens) Childing Pink (closes)

2 p.m. ~ Afternoon Squill (opens) Scarlet Pimpernel, Water Lily (closes)

3 p.m. ~ Hawkbit (closes) Calendula, Spider plant (closes 3-4 p.m.)

4 p.m. ~ Purple Hawkweed (opens 4 p.m.) Four O' Clocks(opens 4-7 p.m.) Cat's Ear (closes 4-5 p.m.)

5 p.m. ~  Night-Flowering Catchfly (opens 5-6 p.m.) White Water Lily (closes) Coltsfoot (closes 5-6 p.m.)

6 p.m. ~ Evening primrose, Goatsbeard, Moonflowers (opens) White water lily (closes 6-7 p.m.)

7 p.m. ~ White campion (opens) Daylily, Dogrose (closes 7-8 p.m.)

8 p.m. ~ Night flowering cereus (opens 8-10 p.m.) Catchfly, Daylilies (closes  8-9 p.m.)

9 p.m. ~ Flowering Tobacco (opens 9-10 p.m.)

Just for fun ~ Telling the Time with a Dandelion. We used to do this as kids. Legend has it that the number of breaths it takes to blow off all the seeds of a dandelion globe that has gone to seed, is the hour number.  : )

D. Moss