The flower clock - every bloom in its time

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Guests allegedly stunned the Swedish botanist Carl von Linné often with the following ritual: If he wanted to drink his afternoon tea, he looked first examining from the window of his study in the garden. Depending on the inflorescence of the flower clock that he had created, he knew what time it had taken - and served the tea at five o'clock, to the admiration of the visitors.

At least that's what the legend says. Behind this is the insight of the famous naturalist that plants open and close their flowering at certain times of the day. Carl von Linné observed about 70 flowering plants and found that their activities during the entire growth period always took place at the same time of day or night. The idea of ​​developing a flower clock was obvious. In the botanical garden of Uppsala in 1745, the scientist put on the first flower clock. It was a bed in the form of a dial with a total of 12 cake-like subdivisions, which were planted with the flowering at the hour plants. For this purpose, Linnaeus planted the plants in a one o'clock field, which opened their flower either at 1 o'clock or at 1 o'clock. In the fields two to twelve he planted appropriate plant species.

Flower Clock

This illustration was designed by the illustrator Ursula Schleicher-Benz in 1948 (disc made of cardboard, Thorbecke Verlag). The plants shown in it fit our climate region

Meanwhile, we know that the different flowering phases of plants - their so-called "internal clock" - are also related to pollinating insects. If all the flowers opened at the same time, they would have to compete far too much for bees, bumblebees and butterflies - as well as for the rest of the day for the few remaining flowers.

Red Pippau Crepis rubra

Marigold calendula

At 6 o'clock in the morning the Red Pippau (Crepis rubra, left) opens its flowers, the calendula (Calendula, right) follows at 9 o'clock

A correct orientation of the flower clock depends on the climate, season and type of flower. The historic clock Linnés corresponded to the Swedish climate zone and did not follow the summer time. Therefore, a graphic design by German illustrator Ursula Schleicher-Benz is widespread in Germany. It does not contain all the plants originally used by Linnaeus, but is largely adapted to the local climatic zone and takes into account opening and closing times of the flowers.

Tiger lily

Evening primrose Oenothera biennis

The flowers of the tiger lily (Lilium tigrinum, left) open at noon at 13 o'clock, late in the afternoon at 17 o'clock the evening primrose (Oenothera biennis, right) opens its flowers

Planting example of a flower clock

6 clock: Red Pippau
7 clock: St. John's wort
8 clock: Acker-Gauchheil
9 o'clock: Marigold
10 clock: Acker-Schuppenmiere
11 o'clock: goose thistle
12 noon: Sprouting rock carnation
1 pm: Tigerlily
2 pm: Dandelion
15 clock: grass lily
4 pm: Sorrel
5 pm: evening primrose

In every climate zone the flower clock is ticking differently

If you want to create your own flower clock, you should first observe the flowering rhythm on your own doorstep. It takes patience, because the weather can mess up the clock: On cool, rainy days, many flowers remain closed. Insects also influence the opening time of the flowers. If a flower has already been pollinated, it closes its bloom sooner than usual. In the opposite case, it remains open longer so that it can still be pollinated. This means that the flower clock can sometimes go to or from one and the same location. It literally means wait and drink tea.

Carl von Linné (1707-1778)

Carl von Linné

The Swedish scientist and garden lover Carl von Linné was born in Raashult / Sweden

The Swedish scientist, born under the name of Carl Nilsson Linnaeus, developed his interest in plants on nature excursions with his father. His later research contributed significantly to the development of modern botany: to him we owe the unique system of designation of animals and plants, the so-called "binominale nomenclature". Since then, these are determined by a Latin generic name and a descriptive addition. In 1756, the botany professor and later rector of the University of Uppsala was elevated to the peerage and declared the personal physician of the royal family.

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