Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sundials and Armillary Spheres as Garden Ornament

Public landscapes are made more interesting by the addition of garden ornaments, and the sundial is both a fun and useful addition. The archaeological record indicates sundials have been in use since 3500 B.C. They use shadows thrown by the position of the sun in order to tell the time of day.  The position of the sundial must be aligned with the earth’s axis to give the correct time. Today, adjustments for daylight savings time, usually an hour off true solar time, are used during the summertime.  

A straight rod called a gnomon throws a shadow onto a flat dial of hours. The dials are often decorated with witty or humorous mottoes such as “Tempus fugit” (time flies),“I only count the sunny hours”, or “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be”.

Most sundials are laid flat, although some are mounted on buildings or walls. One really fun type of sundial is laid out on the ground with the hours as stepping stones. A person stands in a designated spot becoming the gnomon, and the his or her shadow falls on the appropriate hour. Your Crabapple LandscapExperts Rep can consult on installing such a feature for the properties you manage. 

Other sundials are formed like a three-dimensional, spherical globe, and these are called an armillary spheres. The armillary sphere is set on a plinth and forms an excellent garden ornament or focal point.

Often thyme is planted beneath the sundial and plinth as a pun on the subject.

Hours fly, Flowers die; New days, New Ways, Love stays. . .

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