Whismy Wednesday means GIANT floral clocks this week.
Edinburgh Floral Clock – the Grandfather of them all…(and there are quiet a few around the world.)
Edinburgh’s floral clock can be found in the NE corner of West Princes Street Gardens. It is an immaculately tended floral display in the shape of a clock, it also tells the correct time. Commissioned in 1903, it is the first of its kind in the world. It is believed to be the oldest floral clock in the world.
Each Spring, the clock is replanted to a different design. Since 1946, the floral clock has celebrated a different event or anniversary each year.
One of Edinburgh’s most popular tourist attractions, the Floral Clock is located in West Princes Street Gardens, next to theMound…It is seasonally replanted in a topical design with around 35,000 colourful plants. Previously on show only between June and October, from 2003 a planting of frost-resistant plants takes it through the winter season.
The clock is 3.5m (12 feet) in diameter and the hands, which are driven by an electric motor, weigh more than 60 kg (130 lbs). The electrically driven mechanism replaced a clockwork motor in 1973, which had needed to be wound daily. It also has a cuckoo that calls each hour.
Edinburgh’s Floral Clock was inspired by a carpet bedding display in West Princes Street Garden in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII. The following year, John McHattie, the City’s park superintendent at the time, and Edinburgh clockmakers James Ritchie and Son created the floral clock by installing a clock mechanism in the base of the Allan Ramsay Monument.
The early designs for the clock were carried out by John McHattie who was advised by James Mossman, a direct descendant of the court jeweller to Mary Queen of Scots. The first clock began ticking on 10 June 1903 with an hour hand only, a minute hand was added in 1904.
In 1905 the mechanism based on organ pipes and bellows to replicate the sound of the cuckoo was installed in a box next to the Floral Clock to record the hour. The early mechanism did not include the house for the cuckoo or indeed a full-scale model of the bird.
Until 1928, the design of the floral clock was based geometrical shapes with the clock numerals being clearly identified by using a yellow leafed plant. William Grant was appointed Head Gardener in Princes Street Gardens in 1928 and designed and supervised the planting of the clock until he retired in 1946. During the Second World War, motif designs on the clock commemorated wartime events and victories.
The existing mechanism installed in 1903 to drive the Floral Clock was converted to be electrically driven in 1973. In 1953 a house for the cuckoo was installed and the life-size replica of a cuckoo appears to sound every quarter-hour.
Each year a new display is planted in West Princes Street Gardens along the lines of a topical theme. Last year it celebrated the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, in 1994 it took as its inspiration the centenary of the life of Robert Louis Stevenson and in 1974 the clock celebrated 100 years of West Princes Street Garden.
Niagara Falls clock was a direct take from Edinburgh Floral Clock –
The clock was inspired by then Ontario Hydro chairman, Dr. Richard L. Hearn and was based on the famous clock built in Princess Street Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1903. Dr. Hearn had seen this clock at the Princess Street gardens during a business trip.
The clock is the largest type of its kind in the world. It is three times the size of the clock in Scotland.
and Frankfort saw Niagara; Today Frankfort’s Floral Clock is Turning 50
FRANKFORT (AP) – Kentucky’s Floral Clock is turning 50 and first lady Jane Beshear is hosting a party to celebrate…The clock, which got a facelift from landscape artist Jon Carloftis, will get its hands painted gold in preparation for the celebration…
The floral clock in Frankfort, Kentucky is a landmark located behind the Kentucky State Capitol. The floral clock in Frankfort, Kentucky is a landmark located behind the Kentucky State Capitol. Today celebrates the Floral Clock’s 50th anniversary!
The face behind the clock Ken Dotson, retired as state gardener, was instrumental in the birth of the Floral Clock by the Capitol Annex 50 years ago. State Journal/Tricia Spaulding
In the fall of 1960 the governor visited Niagara Falls where he saw the floral clock on the Canadian side of the border. Combs told Ken to fly there and study the floral clock so one could be built in Frankfort.
“Bert had wanted to get tourists into Frankfort. He said Mammoth Cave was the biggest attraction in Kentucky, and he wanted to even up the odds.”
The Floral Clock was built in 1961 at a cost of $50,000 – equivalent to $360,000 today. The decision attracted a lot of criticism and the clock was derisively known as “Comb’s Folly” or “Big Bert.”
The clock had an inauspicious beginning when it was officially dedicated in 1961. The day began with the sun shining and crab apple trees blooming, but a torrential downpour soon broke out.
The heavy rains washed the freshly planted flowers into the pool near the clock and caused an electrical malfunction. The hands stopped moving, and an electrician had to push a button every minute in order to advance them.
Despite the problems, more than 3,000 cars drove by the Floral Clock the first weekend, Ken said. Tourists also used the pool as a wishing well and deposited more than $300 the first week.
Ken said the first collection was used to buy two ponies, named Tick and Tock, for an orphanage in Kentucky. Later, the money would be used to fund college scholarships for horticulture students.
However, the problems weren’t over yet – fish had been stocked in the pool but quickly died. A filter was missing that prevented oxygen from being re-circulated.
After that problem was fixed, exotic fish and turtles would often inhabit the pool, Ken said. But during the summer the water had to be changed every week because algae would grow quickly.
Combs also had a garden at the Governor’s Mansion and together with Ken would take an armload of vegetables to the Floral Clock on Saturday and give them away to tourists.
“They were amused.”
Another mishap occurred when Ken set up a tape player to broadcast “My Old Kentucky Home” at the clock during the day.
He would turn it off before leaving work except once he forgot and the song repeated throughout the night – much to the frustration of nearby residents.
“Three or four people met me at the car when I arrived the next day. It kept them awake all night.”
He turned it off after only two weeks.
Throughout his 34-year career Ken was responsible for designing and planting floral patterns on the clock’s face.
“I didn’t want the tourists to see the same thing every time.”
He would often trade plants with the gardeners who managed the floral clock at Kings Island near Cincinnati.
“They would try the plants I used, and I would try the plants they used.”
The Floral Clock design would change several times a year with special themes for Christmas and Easter. Slogans such as “Peace on Earth” and a nativity scene were once included but complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union stopped the practice, Ken said.
“They should have kept it.”
He also helped select and set up the Christmas tree – an annual tradition at the Capitol.
Other special displays included a small crop of burley tobacco grown on the Capitol grounds in the 1970s. The purpose was to promote the industry and show tourists how tobacco was raised, Ken said.
Ken lamented the decline of the Capitol rose garden, which he helped plant in 1961. At its height more than 1,000 roses covered half the Capitol Annex lawn but now has shrunk to fewer than 50, Ken said.
He would often eavesdrop as tourists commented on the Floral Clock, and the feedback was always positive.
The most unusual request he ever got was a letter that proposed a bat-themed design for the Floral Clock. The idea was in connection with a bat convention at Kentucky State University. The designs were interesting but no bats ever appeared on the Floral Clock, Ken said.
Ken said the governor in Arkansas once asked him to help landscape the capital in Little Rock – he declined.
A fierce snowstorm in January 1994 convinced Ken it was time to retire after 34 years. After a freezing rain, 16 to 22 inches of snow accumulated closing the interstate, and the National Guard was called out. Snow removal was the most difficult task he had, and Ken once calculated he was responsible for clearing 90 acres of parking lots in Frankfort.
“I’m not doing this any more,” he said recalling the decision.
At his retirement party Ken received letters of appreciation from former governors Julian Carroll, Wendell Ford, Paul Patton, Wallace Wilkinson, Ed Breathitt and Brereton Jones.
The letter he valued most came from Sara Walter Combs, the widow of the man who hired him. Combs died in 1991, and Sara, of Stanton, is a Court of Appeals judge.
“The work of this portion of your life will be enjoyed by countless thousands of Kentuckians and visitors to our state for many years to come,” Sara wrote.
“The message is clear and comforting, that at the center of government and civilization there must always be the loveliness of nature to give perspective, sanctuary and peace.”
– all pulled from the above mentioned/cited article
“Instead of sitting on a bank of earth as most similar floral clocks do, the Frankfort clock is suspended above a pool of water. The pool is 36 feet (11 m) in diameter and 4.5 feet (1.4 m) deep.Visitors often use the pool as a wishing well.
In May 1962, the National Council of State Garden Clubs presented the state of Kentucky with its Bronze Seal Award for its efforts to beautify the state capitol, with the clock being a large part of that effort. In 2002, the capitol grounds, including the floral clock, were featured on the HGTV series “Great American Gardens”.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i “Kentucky’s Floral Clock”. Legislative Research Commission
- ^ a b c d e “On Capitol Grounds”. The Free-Lance Star
- ^ a b c Pearce, p. 135
- ^ “Combs Rose to Pinnacle From Plain Beginnings”
- ^ a b c Hightower, p. 15
- ^ a b c Brammer, p. B1
- ^ a b “Kentucky’s Floral Clock A Winner”. The Sebree Banner
- ^ “Touring Scenic Kentucky”. The Sebree Banner