The professionals said it could not be done. They had never tried it, and they didn’t know any public garden that had tried it, and they wouldn’t recommend anyone else give it a try.
This was not the response I expected when I called a few plant people and asked how to design a type of flower bed that has been around since the mid-18th century. It’s called a Horologium Florae: a flower clock. (No relation to the Apple Watch.)
“Please don’t show this to my bosses,” said Marc Hachadourian, the director of the Nolen Greenhouses, a 43,000-square-foot grow facility at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. What Mr. Hachadourian, 41, meant was, Don’t give management any ideas.
He was joking. Mostly. Because once you hear it, the idea behind the flower clock is irresistible. First, identify a selection of a few dozen flowers that open and close at regular hours. They can be old friends like lilies, marigolds and primroses. Next, plant them in an organized fashion — perhaps in the segmented shape of a dial or clock face.
At this point, clock-watchers may want to skip ahead to the useful flowering timetable in the second half of this article. The seeds and plants for growing a flower clock may already be tick-tick-ticking in the stack of garden catalogs on the mail table.
Here’s how the timepiece works. During a stroll in the summer garden, you notice that the sow thistle petals are open while the adjacent pumpkin blossoms remain shut. The first plant, according to your records, blooms reliably at 5 a.m.; the second at 6 a.m.
Who needs a watch when the flowers know the time?
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