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Watch it! Flowers that keep time

An innovative public good of sorts and the most popular tourist attraction in Geneva, the flower clock dates back to 1955.

flower-clock-main This beautiful, natural timepiece is composed of some of the most exotic flowering/non-flowering shrubs and ornamental plants. (Source: Swasti Pachauri)

The city of Geneva, known as the humanitarian capital of the world, houses the top international organs of the globe including many relevant headquarters of major actors of global governance.

The city’s breathtaking beauty, mountain ranges of the Alps and French Saleve with its idyllic landscapes makes it one among the popular global tourist destinations.

Close to the French border, the city boasts of a robust cultural, historical heritage with its fine architectural capital, and is factually and contemporarily- one of the prime locations of major luxury watch brands of the world.

Among several important places tourists flock to Lake Geneva for the famous lake cruises, garden walks and walking tours at Jardin Anglais or the English Garden, which in turn is best known for L’horloge Fleurie or the Flower Clock – a master ‘timepiece’ of its kind, and quite self-evidently – saluting the indigenous craftsmen of this sophisticated industry.

flower-clock-story-1 The clock is made of over 6000 plants, shrubs and flowers. (Source: Swasti Pachauri)

An innovative public good of sorts and the most popular tourist attraction in the city, the flower clock dates back to 1955, when it was crafted on a little hump shaped structure in the garden. Changing its floral bedding at least four times a year, this beautiful, natural timepiece is composed of some of the most exotic flowering/non-flowering shrubs and ornamental plants, functions with motors that are assembled under the elevated structure, and is resilient to weather adversities. The clock is best known for setting a world record for its longest seconds-hand (around 2.5 meters long) and measuring overall 5 meters in diameter.

Inspiring several cities across the world to canvas similar flower-patterned assets enhancing infrastructure of global cities, the clock is made of over 6000 plants, shrubs and flowers. Similar such floral arrangements could be seen across public gardens in Geneva, and in adjoining cities like Lausanne in Switzerland.

Preserving legacy amid luxury
Located next to Rue du Rhone and Confederation Centre, two important commercial hubs of super luxury boutiques and international brands, the flower clock is situated next to prime watch marques like Patek Phillipe, Rolex, 88 Rue Du Rhone and Cartier. The clock right in the heart of city is also emblematic of the indigenous watch making industry visible with the Jet d ‘Eau or the water fountain in the backdrop originating from Lake Geneva. The water jet is a significant land mark for tourists and recently, celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2011.

History says the giant water jet was integral to the then indigenous watch making industry with watch artists, cabinotiers and craftsmen dependent on water valves of the fountain to track factory timing along with other technical attributes thus, signifying precision, work ethics and accuracy – ideals of Swiss way of living, according to the local narratives.

Creating ornate, natural architecture. (Source: Swasti Pachauri) Creating ornate, natural architecture. (Source: Swasti Pachauri)

Both Jet d’Eau and the flower clock together with watch tours and museums offer informative tourist expeditions to watch aficionados, art connoisseurs and horologists.

It is interesting to see how Swiss have neatly fashioned simple architecture with floral art, representing their indigenous culture and history thereby, rendering this timeless creation aesthetically relevant to the world of contemporary art and design.

Moving towards ‘Green Infrastructure’
The flower clock is world class in its statement, and could be established in Indian cities to decorate, enhance, and adeptly use public spaces and gardens.

Planners could initiate similar projects near heritage sites, and urban centers in cities like Delhi which has numerous parks, open spaces and gardens. Such measures would contribute to environment conservation, help promote eco-tourism and contribute to city beautification in a colorful, ecological way.

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