Ten thousand flowers fill the Floral Clock behind the Kentucky State Capitol. Completed in 1961, it was also a hot-button issue in the state’s next gubernatorial campaign.
The Kentucky Floral Clock in Frankfort is planted inside of a 100-ton concrete holder above a pool of water. Spinning in time over the 34-foot in diameter flower-face, the hour hand is 15-feet long, and the minute hand is 20-feet long. The clock was championed by then-governor Bert Combs along with the Garden Club of Kentucky, after a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland and seeing its floral clock. Despite his civic intentions, Combs’ flowery timepiece would come to haunt his political career.
Combs’ chief political rival, former governor Happy Chandler, would make the clock an issue in the 1963 Kentucky gubernatorial election, positioning it as a symbol of the wastes of taxpayer money. He would call it the “Weed Clock” and once said “Well, they don’t say it’s half past two in Frankfort anymore. They say it’s two petunias past the jimson weed.”
Despite criticism, the Kentucky Floral Clock still stands, and new flowers are planted from local greenhouses each spring. In fact it now serves an even greater gardening good as the coins collected from the pool beneath it, go to fund scholarships in horticulture.
Know Before You Go
Follow Capitol Avenue around the State Capitol. The clock is at the first left.