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How to Create a Garden That Tells Time

clock made out of real flowers

Flower Clock

Most gardens today are planted with color, visual appeal and soil quality in mind, but have you ever heard of planting flowers to signify the time? Well, in 1751 a Swedish biologist by the name of Carolus Linnaeus set out to do just that.  

He noticed that certain flowers seemed to bloom at very specific times, and theorized that if he could plant flowers according to the time they bloomed, he could create a “flower clock.” Once the appropriate flowers were arranged in order, a person would, in theory, be able to tell what time it is based on how open or closed the flowers were.

The idea became very popular in the early 19th century, and many botanists and gardeners tried to create their own flower clocks.  While no one has ever achieved 100% accuracy, it can still be a creative, fun and functional way to determine significant parts of the day. Here’s what you need to know to get started on your own flower clock.

close up of evening primrose flower

Evening primrose opens at around 6pm, and is one of the few flowers you can watch opening in real time.

Photo by Hbakkh

Step 1: Determine What Kind of Flowers to Plant

In order to do this, you’ll need to consider the time of day the flowers open, and the climate in your area.  

Keep in mind that you can judge the time not only by when the flowers open, but also when they close. For example, Morning Glories open at around 5 AM, and close around noon, so a closed Morning Glory can indicate noontime. You can find charts of open and close times online, but remember that the times can vary slightly depending on your specific location.  

Step 2: Decide Which Hours of the Day You Want to Highlight

Chances are, you don’t have the space, resources or time to do a complete clock (and even if you did, it probably wouldn’t be 100% accurate).  Instead, you can focus on parts of the day that are significant to you – like meals or activities. If you usually take certain meals at a specific time, you can plant flowers to signify that it’s time to eat.  

close up of pink carnations

Carnations could signify a late lunch, perhaps?

Photo by Shawn Han

Step 3: Plant Your Flowers in a Sunny Area

You’ll want to plant your clock in the place that gets the most sun in your garden.  This will ensure that your flowers are operating on the correct schedule. Too little sun can throw their circadian rhythm off.

close up of California poppies

California Poppies open at around 10 AM, but only if there is sunlight.

Photo by Brian

 

Step 4: Plant in a Pattern That You Will Remember

Of course, the traditional shape is a circle going clockwise, but it’s your garden – you can plant in any shape you want! Just make sure you remember which flower is which or it will defeat the whole purpose.

Having a flower clock is definitely a fun and novel way to keep track of your day, and is sure to impress anyone who visits your home.  For all your flower needs and questions, see your Las Vegas florist at Flowers of the Field. (702) 263-3256

Main photo image: Chris Martino.

 

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