The Scotsman to be honoured in floral clock

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It is the jewel in the crown of historic Scottish clocks, situated in the heart of Princes Street Gardens, beneath the statue of 18th century Scots poet Allan Ramsay with the imposing silhouette of Edinburgh Castle behind.

Next week the city’s world-famous floral clock will reveal its design for 2017, which this year celebrates the 200th anniversary of our sister paper The Scotsman – complete with a thistle emblem in tribute to the publication’s iconic masthead.

This is the first time any organisation has been honoured by being featured twice on the floral clock. The Scotsman’s 175th anniversary was celebrated in 1992.

Frank O’Donnell, The Scotsman’s 27th editor, and Edinburgh Lord Provost Frank Ross will take their place among visitors and tourists as the new display, designed jointly by Edinburgh City Council and Scotsman Publications, is unveiled.

Mr O’Donnell said: “The floral clock is part of Edinburgh’s heritage and it is humbling for The Scotsman to be honoured in this way once again.

“The newspaper has been part of the fabric of our nation for 200 years, reporting on news, sports, business and the arts, as well as campaigning on important issues.

“We are proud to have our bi-centenary marked in such a colourful way, and proud of our association with Scotland’s capital.”

Composed of around 35,000 plants, the floral timepiece which is almost 12-feet in diameter, also features the swords “good sense, courage and industry”, picked out in pyrethrum “golden moss” – echoing the paper’s founders’ commitment to quality journalism.

The plants, tended for over the winter at the city’s Inch nursery, include blue kleinia, black ophiopogon grass, spiky succulent agaves, sedum, echeveria, and saxifraga.

The clock, believed to be the oldest floral clock in the world, was created in 1903 by John McHattie, who was the Edinburgh parks superintendent.

The original mechanism, which came from a redundant turret clock, was designed by Edinburgh clockmakers James Ritchie whose firm still maintains it.

A cuckoo clock was added featuring a “cuckoo” popping out on the hour and at quarter past, half past and quarter to the hour, to the delight of visitors who come the admire the landmark.

The bird’s volume can now be adjusted and the recording includes the sound of the rustle of trees at the beginning of the recording.

The cuckoo sound is switched on at 6.30am and turned off around 9pm to deter clubbers and party-goers making their way along Princes Street attempting to take it as a memento. However, a spare mould for the bird exists in case of breakage.

The clock has recently been upgraded but until 1972 it operated mechanically, and had to be wound daily.

David Dorward, botanical services team leader, who along with fellow council gardeners have spent over a month planting the clock, said: “I love what I do. Creating something from a bit of ground and see it developing before your eyes every day.”