Ideas for choosing the best sundials for your unique style
Sundials for gardens come in a variety of finishes and added details. As a technology that has been used for centuries, many have an antiqued or aged finish for stylistic reasons. If your home is Victorian or traditional in style, look for unique sundials placed on pillars, antiqued metals, and designs that feature Old World motifs. For a more transitional style, look for a little whimsy added to the design of a metal sundial. This might include animals, meaningful quotes, or unique scenes inlaid into the surface or incorporated into the design of the shadow caster.
Ancient ingenuity: how sundials work
Antique sundials use either a light spot or cast a shadow to determine the local solar time of any specific location. With the onset of technology, sundials have been used less and less for telling time and are now more for decorative purposes. Sun dials use a longitudinal and latitudinal location relative to the earth turning on its polar axis in relation to the sun to tell the time at that particular spot. Garden sundials do have the ability to tell the time, but the accuracy is difficult to pinpoint, making them more decorative in nature.
A (very) brief history of sundials
Outdoor sundials were first used in Ancient Greece, and are found in archaeological digs around the world. They were used in cultures all over the globe and have become more sophisticated as cultures advanced. Prior to the invention of the clock, sundials were the only source of time measurement for centuries. Wall sundials were often displayed on municipal buildings up until the introduction of the railroad in America. Armillary sundials represent the terrestrial globe and the celestial sky and were created as early as the 4th Century in China and Greece. Since sundials were a useful technology, they lasted centuries until a better technology (the clock) replaced them.
A: In general, decorative sundials found in the yards of a home are not very accurate for telling time. However, the design of properly calibrated and well placed sundials can tell time accurately. It needs to take into account the location on the surface of the Earth in regard to latitude and longitude, as well as the mathematical angles that come from utilizing solar light in this fashion.
A: Most modern sundials are used as decorative additions to a yard or garden. Much like a fountain, lawn sculpture, or flower bed it can bring a focal point to your yard and add some curb appeal. You can also incorporate one into your garden wall for an added decorative element.
A: Sundials can vary in size. From the size of a standard clock all the way up to tall stones used in earth clocks. Most standard decorative sundials range from 10 to 12 inches in size. This makes them easy to place in your garden without overwhelming the outdoor space.
A: Yes, you can hang a sundial, but if you want a general sense of telling time, it is best to install one that is made for vertical surfaces. Because sundials incorporate the angle of the sun in relation to the earth, the angle to get the right shadow or light spot cast on the dial is crucial to the sundial’s design.
Q: Are pedestal sundials any different from those that sit on the ground?
A: Because the ground and a pedestal are both on a horizontal plane, the difference in height would be minuscule (if at all) in making a difference in telling the time. You will generally get the same level of accuracy for a horizontal sundial regardless of the surface (ground or pillar) you place it on.
Private Sale going on now, watch your inbox for exclusive savings
*Opt-out at any time. See our commitment to Privacy for details. Excludes open box, clearance, doorbusters, hot buys, price cuts and price restricted items.