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The Flower Clock: What Wild Plants Tell Us About Time

Work in Progress


Wonderful how completely everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us. The sun shines not on us but in us… The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls.

—John Muir.

Wildflowers are chroniclers of light. They are cosmic timekeepers, their indications of time expressing far more than the date on a calendar or the hands on a clock. Their reality is immediate, unfiltered through any machine. They reveal the true nature of the seasons in all their manifestations: long days or darkness, dry or rainy, warm or cool, buzzing with insects or dormant.

Wildflowers are epiphanies. Their brief appearance each year lends them the nature of messengers. They are emissaries of joy, silent heralds announcing a truth beyond words. Because it is just between them and us, their message unfolds at the perfect pace just as the flower does, and we learn a new sense of time.

Plants can tell time—the date on the calendar and in many cases, the hour of the day. Our human time has become an abstract concept observed with paper calendars and mechanical clocks, a continuous line extending into the past and the future without a “now.” Plant time is not an abstract concept. It is a reflection of the real world and real relationships.