BALLARAT’S iconic floral clock was re-launched last Thursday, with an important nod to the past.
City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Samantha McIntosh joined descendants of Francis John Cutts, who was Mayor of Greater Ballaarat in 19531954, to unveil the floral timepiece as part of the 160thanniversary of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens this year.
Mayor Cutts escorted the then newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II to take in the sights of the spectacular floral display in March 1954, then located in Sturt Street’s Shoppee Square (now the Myer block), and the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, as part of the second Ballarat Begonia Festival.
Descendants of Mayor Cutts – his grandson, great grandsons, great great grandchildren and family, were on hand for the special unveiling, including Esther Cutts, the five-year-old great, great granddaughter of Mayor Cutts as well as her father, City of Ballarat Rural Access Officer Phil Cutts.
The floral clock was presented to the citizens of Ballarat in 1954 by the Ballarat Begonia Festival Committee. The floral clock was moved to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens from the Sturt Street gardens in 1980. The clock has not been operational for 14 years, after the clock hands were used to destroy statues in the Gardens’ Stoddart Collection.
In 2003, the hands were removed after further vandalism, and the area was planted as a round garden bed. As part of the 160th anniversary of the Gardens, a new clock mechanism, metal numbers and light alloy metal hands have been installed, while the garden bed has been replanted with red and white petunias to celebrate the festive season.
The Ballarat Botanical Gardens was first reserved for a public garden in 1857.
Today, the Gardens are renowned as one of Australia’s most attractive cool climate gardens, where each season is distinctly marked by the mature trees.
“The floral clock is a muchloved part of Ballarat and a treasured piece of our history.
Floral clocks are quite specialised and Ballarat is home to one of just three in Victoria,” Cr McIntosh said.
“It is wonderful to celebrate the return of this floral landmark with the descendants of former Mayor Francis Cutts, particularly as we celebrate 160 years of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.” It was more by accident that the history of the present day Cutts family was linked to the floral clock as the Mayor explained, “I was very charmed by a little girl that I stumbled across at a petrol station one day, her name is Esther.
“Her dad introduced me to her and said ‘This is the Mayor’ and she said ‘My great, great grandfather was the Mayor and he unveiled a clock – the one with the flowers around it’. We did a little more research and we found out it truly was this clock.”