Edinburgh’s floral clock mastermind retires after 44-year career

He’s helped create the world’s oldest floral clock in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens for more than four decades – but now David Dorward is hanging up his trowel and looking forward to a well-earned retirement.

During a 44-year career with the City of Edinburgh Council, David has worked with colleagues to design and plant 40 of the Capital's iconic clocks, with designs in honour of various organisations and causes.

On Wednesday (August 31), he was joined by his colleagues and Lord Provost Robert Aldridge at the clock to see his final edition in full bloom.

Presenting David with a quaich and congratulating him on his service, Lord Provost Robert Aldridge said: “Each year, the iconic clock marks special occasions and events in the heart of the Capital – and today we mark our own as David retires from the council after 44 years in our parks team.

David Dorward was joined by Lord Provost Robert Aldridge at the Floral Clock in Edinburgh's West Princes Street Gardens this week.

“Since 1982, David has worked with technical colleagues each year to design and plant the floral clock which, as we can see today, continues to be enjoyed by everyone who passes it.

“It is my pleasure to thank and congratulate David on his career with us in the council and wish him well in his well-earned retirement.”

After thanking the Lord Provost, David added: “It’s been a pleasure to work in the council’s parks and greenspace team and a privilege to work on the floral clock.

“It’s funny to think after being brought to see it by my mum and dad when I was a child that I would get to work on over 40 of them.

“I’ve got many highlights, but discovering we’d been awarded with the gold at the Chelsea flower show definitely sticks out.

“I’d very much like to thank my colleagues over the years and look forward to visiting the clock in the years ahead.”

For 2022, the hugely popular landmark celebrates Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

David and team of four gardeners took just four weeks to plant over 35,000 flowers and plants used to create the clock, which will be in bloom until October.

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.

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