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Lord Provost Inaugurates RNLI-Themed Floral Clock in Edinburgh

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The Lord Provost has officially opened this year’s incarnation of the Floral Clock.

Work has finished to complete this year’s design on the world’s oldest Floral Clock in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens. For 2024, the hugely popular landmark celebrates 200 years of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Our team of three gardeners took just six weeks to plant over 35,000 flowers and plants used to create the clock, which will be in bloom until October. There are 20 different plants included in this year’s design such as antennaria, crassula, echevaria, sedum, saxifrage and annuals such as pyrethrum, begonias and geraniums. Former Botanical Services Manager, David Dorward, has been planting the clock for 42 years, and despite being retired he continues to return to supervise the effort and to train new staff members in the tradition.

The Floral Clock was first created in 1903 by then Edinburgh Parks Superintendent, John McHattie, and is the oldest of its kind in the world. It initially operated with just an hour hand, with a minute hand added in 1904, followed by a cuckoo clock in 1952. Until 1972 the clock was operated mechanically and had to be wound daily.

Since 1946 it has been designed in honour of various organisations and individuals, including the Girl Guides Association, Robert Louis Stevenson and the Queen, for her Golden Jubilee. In the clock’s centenary year in 2003 it won a Gold Medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

“It’s important that we honour organisations and individuals that have a positive impact on our communities. The RNLI volunteers and staff work tirelessly to save lives at sea daily, and after 200 years they have saved over 146,000 lives.

“I’d like to thank our fantastic colleagues who have been working on this year’s Floral Clock that we see before us.

“It is a very special occasion to be here today to recognise the impact they have made on thousands of lives, through the 2024 floral clock.”

The Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh Robert Aldridge
RNLI Floral Clock 2024

“It is a great honour for the RNLI to feature in this year’s Princes Street Gardens Floral Clock, in what is a defining year in our history. For 200 years, selfless volunteers around the UK and Ireland have been saving lives at sea. Our crew and volunteers are the lifeblood of our charity; from our fundraisers who work so hard in funding our lifesaving mission, to our water safety volunteers who deliver vital messaging to help keep people safe – they will all be thrilled to be recognised in this way.

“It is our hope that those passing by this incredible floral display will take a moment to commemorating those who have gone before us, celebrate the contribution of our dedicated volunteers, and help us inspire the next generation of lifesavers as we look forward to saving lives at sea for the next 200 years.”

Associate Director of the RNLI, Angela Rook

The RNLI have 46 lifeboats stations in Scotland, and two of the busiest are operated entirely by volunteers, at Queensferry and Kinghorn. These Lifeboat Stations responded to a combined 172 calls in 2023, rescuing 158 people.

Find out more about Edinburgh’s parks and green spaces.

On Monday 4 March 2024, the RNLI marked its 200th anniversary, two centuries of lifesaving that has seen over 146,000 lives being saved. the charity that saves lives at sea through lifeboat search and rescue, lifeguards, water safety education and flood rescue.

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