Kentucky's Floral Clock

Time never stands still around the state Capitol. Kentucky's floral clock measures off the minutes a foot and a half at a time, with giant hands weighing about a quarter of a ton apiece.

There are other flower clocks in the world -- one in Canada at Niagara Falls, some in Europe, and smaller ones in the United States. Kentucky's is unique because it keeps time over a pool of water instead of resting on a bank of earth. The face of the giant clock is 34 feet across. The planter that holds it weighs 100 tons. Dedicated in 1961, the floral clock was a project of the Commonwealth and the Garden Club of Kentucky.

It takes more than 10,000 plants to fill the clock. All are grown in the Commonwealth's own greenhouses near the capitol. Coins from the pool are used to benefit young people in Kentucky.

What makes the clock tick? Nothing, actually.  The clock keeps perfect time silently. The hands move every 60 seconds, like this:  the 20-foot minute hand makes a sudden, broad sweep, and the 15-foot hour hand shifts distinctly to keep pace with it. The works consist of six gears, an electric meter, and an infinitely accurate control mechanism that makes corrections every hour and even resets the clock in case the power fails. All this is enclosed in the stone pedestal on which the planter rests.

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Kentucky's State Capitol