Green Themes

Climb that mountain

Green Themes

    A Solar Calendar Garden Clock

    Now a local landscape artist has recreated a solar calendar based on a description from the 'lost' book of Enoch, and it works. The calendar 'machine' tracks the sun from equinox to solstice, giving the seasons, as well as displaying the time, rainfall and wind directions. It also marks the plane of the ecliptic, earths path around the sun, which allows the crude prediction of comet impact with earth and rough estimation of the declination of stars in the sky.

    The history of gardening is also the history of civilisation. The first farmers spread out across Europe and north Africa from the middle east roughly 8000 - 5000 bc. They were the first to develop and use shadow, light technology. Living in temperate climes they needed accurate indicators as to when to plant and harvest crops. In time this led to 'megalithic' culture made famous by places like Newgrange and Stonehenge with light and shadow effects used to awe the local populace which led to religous and heirarchical systems of governance.

    Newgrange in Ireland is a massive chambered mound designed to be illuminated at the winter solstice sunrise, celebrating the rebirth of the sun. It also includes a lintel and aperture which allows the light of Venus into the chamber once every eight years before dawn at the winter solstice and may possibly have served as a birthing chamber for kings with the requisite heavenly approval provided by the Venus light. Karnak in Egypt is designed like a giant telescope that projects an image of the sun onto a wall within the temple sanctuary, at midwinter sunrise and incorporates many other light, shadow effects and orientations.

    The ancient Egyptians unquestionably developed the most sophisticated and impressive examples of this technology, which can still be experienced today, although much has been lost and unnoticed. These traditions of light, shadow technology have remained with us through time being incorporated into cathedrals, monuments, tombs etc. There is something very satisfying about observing the light and shadow play throughout the year and indeed this was one of the ways the ancients harmonise heaven, earth and the underworld. 'As above so below' . Science, religion, magic and art were one.

    The calendar clock in a private garden in Hout Bay includes a sundial using the central gnomon. The shadow patterns for the year are marked out and differentiated by coloured gravels. The whole provides a novel garden feature and plans are underfoot to include an eclipse predicting system and possibly the eighteen year moon cycle. The elusive creator of these follies also creates many other unconventional type, eco friendly garden features including miniature historical, mythological castles which incorporate light effects such as illumination of ones birthstone within the castle on the day and time of your birth. However you will have to track him down yourself.

    written by D Barnard