When you hear the words “Flower Clock”, perhaps you envision a beautiful large clock decorated with flowers in a park. However, this title refers to actual blooming time. The 18th century Swedish botanist and physician Carl von Linné listed over 500 plants to identify flowering times, but many of them are not available in Japan. On a different topic, when I was considering this work, I heard that a flower clock at the famous Grand Resort Hanamaki was created by the agriculturalist Kenji Miyazawa. Intrigue by the idea, I asked my philosopher friend Magoichi Kushida to introduce me to Mr. Miyazawa’s brother Seiroku. I spoke with him, and unfortunately, there was no record of Mr. Miyazawa’s flower clock. Perhaps the blueprint of a nearby garden was mistakenly mentioned. Japan has four fascinating seasons with heavy climatic changes. This makes it difficult to associate flowering with specific times. I pursued other sources as well, yet all of them said it is impossible to have flower clock in Japan. I was shocked by this conclusion and ready to quit my research when a miracle occurred. I found a comment in a pictorial book of flowers by botanist Ken Ogura saying “The flower clock is possible in Japan in the summer.” He added, “The flowers are: Lotus – Morning Glory – Dayflower – Moss Rose – Four O’clock – Evening Primrose – Bottle Gourd.” Suddenly, newly inspired, I decided to create my own “flower clock”.
I selected five flowers from the above list and wrote a song for each. I not only portrayed the inspiration I felt from each flower, but also the compelling scenery and imagined landscape of its blossoming time. Each song segues into the next. This depicts the continuous flow of time in a day. Since the original piano duo was for teacher and student (adult and young), the music is simple and accessible. No extra knowledge of modern music is needed.
I. 4:00am / Morning Glory
Morning Glory, also known as Japanese Morning Glory, is a climbing annual vine in the Convolvulaceae ipomoea family. As dawn echoes in the distance, the morning glory opens its eloquent flowers. It is famous in Japan as a summer flower and most Japanese have it in their homes at least once in their lives.
II. 10:00am / Moss Rose
Moss Rose is a short annual herb in the Portulacaceae family. Various colors of petals include red, white, yellow, and orange. Personally, I like the vivid red contrasting the green leaves.
III. 4:00pm / Four O'clocks
Four O’clock is a perennial herb native to South America in the family of Nyctaginaceae. It is like the morning glory but smaller and flatter looking. The major colors are red, white and yellow. When you break the seed, powdery endosperm can be seen. As you can tell from the name, it blossoms at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
IV. 7:00pm / Evening Primrose
Evening primrose is in the willowherb family, a biennial. During the summer there is still some light at 7 p.m. I recall how, when I was a child, seeing this yellow flower meant it was time to quickly go home.
V. 11:00pm / Bottle Gourd
Bottle gourd is a climbing annual herb in the gourd family. The flower is large and white. It is sometimes mistaken for moonflower, but moonflower yields a fruit having various medicinal uses. The first theme of Morning Glory is restated in the middle of this movement.