“Linnaeus, and the Flower Clock (Carl Linnaeus is considered the father of Modern Taxonomy.
Linnaeus observed over a number of years that certain plants constantly opened and closed their flowers at particular times of the day, these times varying from species to species. Hence one could deduce the approximate time of day according to which species had opened or closed their flowers. Arranged in sequence of flowering over the day they constituted a kind of floral clock or horologium florae, as Linnaeus called it in his Philosophia Botanica (1751, pages 274-276). A detailed and extended account of this in English will be found in F.W.Oliver’s translation of Anton Kerner’s The Natural History of Plants, 1895, vol.2, pages 215-218. As many of the indicator plants are wildflowers and the opening/closing times depend on latitude, the complexities of planting a floral clock make it an impractical proposition.”
(via Linnaeus, and the Flower Clock | The Whispering Crane Institute)
Okay, so it wasn’t Linnaeus’ greatest idea—planting a garden that would tell you the time of day whenever you happened to be in it. It’s not even a sure thing that the proposal went beyond the concept stage. But who could deny its madcap ambition?
If it weren’t for the fact that flowers are subject to the vagaries of locale, weather, and the qualities of their growing environments (among a million other variables), it might just have worked. —MN