This unique and stunning display is a very popular stop on the Niagara Parkway and is photographed almost as often as the Falls! The planted face is maintained by the Niagara Parks horticulture staff, while the mechanism is kept in working order by Ontario Hydro, the organization that originally built the clock. The floral design is changed twice each year - it features viola in the Spring and four cultivars of Alternanthera along with green and grey forms of Santolina Sage during the Summer and Fall. California Golden Privet and Blue Festuca Grass may be used for contrast. The grounds surrounding the clock feature bedding displays and a Tower at the back of the clock houses Westminster chimes that chime each quarter hour. When the door into the Tower is open, you can take a peek at the clock mechanism and enjoy photographs that show the history of every face design all the way back to 1950. Feeling whimsical: there is a 10-foot wide water garden that curves 85 feet around the base of the timepiece - it is a popular place to make a wish!
The Floral Clock at Queenston was built by Ontario Hydro in 1950. The idea to build the attraction came from Dr. Richard Lankaster Hearn, Hydro’s General Manager and Chief Engineer at the time. While preparing for a business trip to England, Mr. Hearn was encouraged by Hugh Duncan - a Scotsman who was maintenance electrician foreman at the Queenston Generating Station - to visit the floral clock in the Princes’ Street Gardens in Edinburgh. Dr. Hearn did as Duncan suggested and he was very impressed by the beauty of the clock and by its practical value as an attraction. After his trip to Scotland, Dr. Hearn commissioned Hydro’s Niagara Regional staff to design and construct a floral clock in keeping with the surroundings at the Queenston station. The Floral Clock is 40 feet wide, with a planted area 38 feet wide, making it one of the largest such clocks in the world. Each year, the face of the clock is filled with 15,000 to 20,000 carpet plants and colourful annuals, planted in unique, intricate designs. Since 1977 The Niagara Parks Commission Horticulture Department (now Parks Department) have been responsible for designing and planting the face of the Clock and a site maintenance worker regularly checks the official time to ensure the Clock’s accuracy. The hands of the clock are stainless steel tubing: the hour hand is 14.5 ft, the minute hand 17.5 ft and the second hand 21 ft long. Their combined weight is 1,250 pounds. Under the clock, accessed by a door at the rear of the tower, the concrete foundation includes three small rooms – one for the clock mechanism and its driving motor, one contains switches to supply the electrical power, and one stores the tools required for maintaining the floral face. The clock mechanism runs in a bath of oil. The mechanical workings are driven by a 5 HP DC motor supplied from a DC drive. A tachometer is mounted on the motor shaft and provides feedback to the drive to control its accuracy. The Westminster chimes are controlled by a programmable logic controller. The sounds are simulated and are broadcast through 2-25 watt co-axial speakers mounted in the bell tower. Adjacent to the Niagara Parks Centennial Lilac Garden, parking, washrooms and a small gift shop are provided for the convenience of the thousands of visitors who stop here each year. This floral showpiece has become one of the most photographed attractions in Niagara Parks.