Saturday, October 23, 2021

A Floral Clock Garden

Ever since I read Sunflower Houses: Garden Discoveries for Children of All Ages by Sharon Lovejoy, I've wanted to make a Floral Clock Garden! It's been on my to-do list for Third Grade for many many years!

Sunflower Houses:
Garden Discoveries for Children of All Ages

by Sharon Lovejoy

Then when I was sorting through some papers last weekend, I found an old "Can Plants Tell Time?" classroom activity from the Science Museum of Virginia (which, as it turns out, is still available online as a free PDF).

Now my mind is really ticking! I was chatting with a homeschool consulting client a few days ago and we started talking about the Floral Clock Garden, but she's a renter and can't put in a garden where she is. So we began to wonder...

What are the floral clock plants?

Could they be grown as container plants?

What if you get 12 large pots and paint the number on each and arrange them in a clock face in your yard?

In my old edition of Sunflower Houses, this project is on pages 32-40. It may be on different pages in the newer edition.

Sunflower Houses: Inspiration From the Garden
A Book for Children and Their Grown-Ups

by Sharon Lovejoy

According to the Science Museum packet, this idea comes from Carl Linnaeus! So now I know that reading Karl, Get Out of the Garden! by Anita Sanchez would work really well for this project too.

Karl, Get Out of the Garden!
Carolus Linnaeus and the Naming of Everything

by Anita Sanchez

I recommend printing pages 3, 7, and 8 from the Science Museum packet.

From page 3, "In 1751, a Swedish botanist/naturalist named Carolus Linnaeus designed a flower garden clock using certain diurnal flowers. By arranging selected species of flowering plants in a circular garden, he was able to devise a clock that indicated the time of day by observing which flowers were open and which ones were closed. The diagram below is inspired by the clock that Linnaus designed. The flowers in the diagram, however, are more commonly found in the United States."

Page 7 is a blank clock face which can be used for organizing your pots.

Page 8 has scientific names and more information about each plant.

Their Floral Clock Garden notes are

    Scarlet Pimpernel
    Anagalis arvensis
    opens by 8 am, closes by 2 pm

    Taxacum officinale
    opens by 9 am, closes by 5 pm

    Morning Glory
    Ipomoes purpurea
    opens by 10 am, closes by evening

    Water Lily
    Nymphaea sp.
    opens by 11 am, closes by 2 pm

    Tragopogon pratensis
    opens by 12 pm, closes by 6 pm

    California Poppy
    Escholtzia californica
    opens at 1 pm

    Cichorium intybus
    opens at 2 pm, closes by 5 pm

    Four o'Clock
    Mirabilis jalapa
    opens by 4 pm, closes by morning

    Evening Primrose
    Oenothera biennis
    opens at 6 pm, closes by noon

Of course, my SWI mind goes straight to Structured Word Inquiry investigations that would work well with some of these plant names, such as < dandelion > and < primrose >.

Sharon Lovejoy's introduction to this garden also gives the credit to Linnaeus. She writes, "Linnaeus was obsessed with the idea of his flower clock, or 'Watch of Flora,' as he often referred to it. His watch was composed of forty-six flowers that opened and closed at predictible times of the day."

Forty-six! That makes me think that containers might actually be a really good idea for this project! As you added new flowers into your clock you could rearrange the pots. You could also write on the pot the time you observe it actually opening. Sharon writes, "Choose from among the plants I've listed those that will do best in your climate. Opening and closing times will vary greatly from one locale to another, so observe your plants carefully, and transplant as necessary!"

I will add that since soil and water requirements can vary greatly from plant to plant, containers seem to be an advantage in that way too.

Her Floral Clock Garden notes are

    2 am
    Convolvulus opens

    3 am
    Egyptian Waterlily and Goatsbeard open

    4 am
    Spiderwort and Flax open

    5 am
    Chicory opens
    she writes of Chicory, "In olden days, Chicory was called Ragged Sailors or Miss-go-to-bed-at-noon. That name makes it easy to remember when it goes to sleep."

    6 am
    Morning Glories, Day Lily, Iceland Poppy, Hawkweed, and Cape Marigold open

    7 am
    Madwort, African Marigold, St. Bernard Lily, White Water Lily, and Fig Marigold open

    8 am
    Scarlet Pimpernel and Fringed Pinks open
    she writes of Scarlet Pimpernel, "In olden days, it was called Poor-man's-weatherglass because it always closes before a storm."

    9 am
    Marigolds, Tulips, Ice Plant, Pink Sandwort, Chickweed, Mallow, Moss Roses, and Gazanias open; Dandelion and Water Lilies close

    10 am
    California Poppies and Golden Stars open

    11 am
    Passion Flowers and Sweet Peas open; Star-of-Bethlehem closes

    12 pm
    Daisies open

    2 pm
    Moonflower and Pinks close

    3 pm
    Vesper Iris opens; Field Marigolds, Sand Spurry, Ice Plant, Hawkbit, Fig Marigold, and Pink Sandwort close

    4 pm
    Four o'Clocks open; Cape Marigold, Madwort, and St. Bernard's Lily close

    5 pm
    Evening Primrose and Jimson Weed open; Cat's Ear closes

    7 pm
    Evening Campion opens; Iceland Poppy closes

    8 pm
    Stock opens

    9 pm
    Moonflower, Sweet Rocket, Postage Stamp Plant open

    10 pm
    Night-Blooming Cereus opens

I find it fascinating that some of the same plants are on both lists but with vastly varying notes on each! Chicory, for example, is on the first list as opening at 2 pm and closing at 5 pm, and on the second list as opening at 5 am and closing at 12 pm. And does Goatsbeard open at noon or 3 am???

Can the latitude really make that much difference? I'm ultra-curious and this makes me absolutely committed to doing a Floral Clock Garden this Spring! Good thing I have a Bullet Journal to help me remember. Just wrote it in the future log. :-)

Just looking at this briefly, I think container gardening is absolutely a possibility. You would need a container, anyway, for the Water Lilies. Sharon suggests simply finding an old tub and filling it with water.

Because she lists so many nighttime plants, I'm actually thinking that maybe we should get 24 pots and do two circles of 12.

If you've tried one, I'd love to hear in the comments how it went!

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