Life’s Not All About the Numbers or Linnaeus’ Floral Clock.

I have been remiss. I ignored my weekly blog deadline. Well…I didn’t ignore it, but time seems to have run away with me. This is particularly interesting because I have been reading about time and wondering about it too; how an afternoon with my children (when they’re tired) can seem like a lifetime but how all of a sudden I’ve been married for 11 years and my smiles have etched lines from my nose to the corners of my lips. How is it possible that I’m middle-aged?

We’ve always measured time: by the stars for big time; by our star for little time; by water-clock, hour glass, candle clock and monastic clock. The Ancient Greeks and Romans also divided their night and day into twelve-hour periods (following in the steps of the Babylonians) although only twice a year, on the equinoxes, would these twelve-hour periods be equal.

Spring in springing in South Africa. I measure Spring time by the weaver clock. They’re always quicker off the mark than the trees themselves. Our resident masked weavers are very yellow and very busy making and unmaking their new nests. And even though it snowed in Johannesburg two weeks ago, they knew that this week it would be above 25°C every day. Now, in light of this springing, I have fallen in love with Carl Linnaeus’ (1707-1788) Floral Clock.

Carl von Linné, Alexander Roslin, 1775. Oil pa...

Linnaeus was a Swedish scientist who is famous for having invented our system of plant classification. He was apparently always enchanted by flowers. When he was upset as a young boy, he was given a flower and it lightened his mood. In 1751, having achieved great things in the scientific world, he published his Horologium Florae which proposed a system of telling the time by the opening and closing of specific plants. His clock was based on plants he had observed for years in Uppsala, Sweden, so it was only relevant to a small part of the world and only correct in certain seasons. I am so in love with the idea though, that it doesn’t matter a fig that it might not be as accurate a system as our mechanical and atomic clocks of today.

And here it is (most of it) in tabular form. It is a thing of great beauty and even though I am now very late for my first appointment – it has just passed the time of the Lettuce Flower’s closing – it makes me very happy to think we can measure out our lives in flowers blooming as well as coffee spoons.


13 thoughts on “Life’s Not All About the Numbers or Linnaeus’ Floral Clock.

    • Thanks for stopping by.

      Whenever I think of Time, I am reminded of Alice’s chat with the Mad Hatter about it. It takes place just before and after he sings Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat (the children think this is the funniest thing EVER). The Hatter made Time so mad that it was always 6 o’clock for him.

      I am happy for the years to pass now but maybe, soon, I might have to threaten Time severely.

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