Parks, Gardens & Conservation Areas
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The Floral Clock with up to 20,000 carpet plants and colourful annuals (the design changed twice a year), is one of the largest in the world! The face is 12.2 metres (40 feet) in diameter. The hands are made of stainless steel tubing. The hour hand is 4.4 m (14.6 feet) long, 500 pounds. The minute hand is 5.3 metres (17.6 feet) long, 500 pounds. The second hand is 6.4 metres (21 feet) long, 250 pounds.
The clock mechanism, hands, drive system and chimes were designed and built by Ontario Hydro staff in 1950. To this day an employee from Ontario Power Generation (the successor to Ontario Hydro), regularly maintains the clock, and its checked daily that it is running on time.
If you are lucky you may come across the Niagara Parks Commissions gardeners crawling along the special aluminium ladder they lay across the face of the clock, in order to plant and tend the clock face! Designs are created a year in advance to allow for the proper preparations. Tin dividers are built and installed to prevent soil slippage caused by the slope of the face of the clock. The clock is stopped during the planting process! In the spring you will see them planting viola, while the summer, fall display features four cultivars of alternanthera along with the green and grey forms of santolina sage (Santonlina chamaecyparris). California golden privet and blue Festuca grass may be used for contrast.
An ivy-clad, louvered stone tower 24 feet tall rises behind the clock. It contains four - 25 watt co-axial speakers which broadcast the Westminster Chimes on every hour and quarter hour. The notes of the chimes are produced by miniature metallic rods being struck by a hammer actuated by contacts on the clock. The relatively low sound is amplified to a maximum of 100 watts. This method of producing chimes is less expensive and more versatile than the use of bells.
Go around behind the tower and find a secret door at the rear of the tower that most visitors dont notice. Through the door into the cool dimness you will find a photo display covering the decades, and beyond there are three small rooms. One room contains the clock mechanism and its driving motor, another contains switches to supply the electrical power, and the third stores the tools required for maintaining the floral face. The clock mechanism runs in a bath of oil and is driven by a 2 horsepower (hp), 3 phase squirrel cage motor, the rotor of which has been altered in such a way that the motor now operates as synchronized at 1,500 rotations per minute (rpm) up to an input of approximately 1,200 watts. The power requirement to operate this motor is 600 watts. 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 Centennial Lilac Garden is just north of the Floral Clocks parking lot. It has over 250 varieties and a total of over 1,200 individual shrubs which bloom from mid-May to mid-June depending upon the weather. This garden which is not wheelchair accessible is rolling lawn. Just walk from the parking lot through the grass into the lilacs.
Located 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) north of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens beside the Sir Adam Beck Generating Station 1, south of the Queenston-Lewiston bridge.