SUNDIALS make stunning garden features but why is it I never seem to find one which gives even an approximation of the correct time?
I suspect they fulfil a mainly ornamental role but even so, an attempt should be made to show some semblance of time during summer and winter.
Setting up a sundial to show an acceptable hourly time can be a daunting task for one has to take into consideration the latitude of your garden, and what is known as the equation of time.
This equation considers the varying speeds at which the earth travels in its path around the sun, and the fact that the earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees to the plane of its orbit.
All this will sound quite complicated to those who, like myself, know only standard clock time.
However, I do know that on four occasions during the year, sundial time is the same as wristwatch time.
These four dates are: April 16, June 14, September 1, and December 25.
From this you will see that April 16 is the next time to set a sundial, so it gives you time to source one, fix it in an open position, and on the day in question position the shadow of the style exactly on the noon line.
A quality sundial would make a very acceptable present for a keen gardener but make sure the new lucky owner is aware of how to position it properly.
For instance, a paved area around the sundial is a must for it will enable everyone to inspect the dial without tramping through plants, walking across muddy grass, or stumbling over small shrubs.
It might be blindingly obvious, but make sure the chosen spot receives the maximum amount of sunshine all year round.
As well, consider any shade that will be cast by nearby deciduous trees once these come into leaf.
All sundials are best mounted on a plinth but make sure it is not too high.
The face should be low enough to be read easily even by those of small stature.
An adequate foundation will also be required, otherwise the feature might in time begin to lean to one side putting its style out of its pre-set angle, making the whole feature look ridiculous.