Sun Dial at Druid Hill Park

A dear blogging friend commented yesterday that he could not find any information about the unique sun dial in the photos from the Druid Hill Park Conservatory blog entry from May 9, 2019. So in answer to Demi’s query, here’s what I was able to find:

The Sundial in the Garden is an unusual, multi-faceted sundial created by Peter Hamilton of Guilford and Waltersville Granite Company and was presented to the City of Baltimore around 1890. It was originally crafted out of granite but has since been covered in bronze. The sundial records the times for Baltimore, Cape Cod, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Pitcairn Island, Sitka, Honolulu, Jeddo (Tokyo), Calcutta, Cape Town, Jerusalem, Fernando Po, and London.

The time recorded on the dial is not in sync with today’s clocks. Before standard time was enacted in 1884, people used solar time. This meant that noon on Cape Cod arrived earlier than noon in Baltimore.  Today, especially during daylight savings time, the dial can be off by as much as an hour and 45 minutes.” From the Rawlings Conservatory website.

A little more research led me to checking out the rose garden in which this multi-faceted sundial is located. It is dedicated to the memory of John Cook, a German immigrant who settled in Baltimore. More than two dozen rose varieties are credited to this German-born hybridizer. John Cook came to America from Germany as Johann Koch in 1853 and found work as an intern with the florist, David Clark of New York later moving to Baltimore as the principle gardener in care of a private estate. Even as a young man, John Cook was always interested in hybridizing roses and eventually twenty-eight varieties were listed to his credit. John Cook died in 1929 at the age of 96 years old. In 1941, a rose garden was planted in Baltimore in Cook’s honor but sadly fell into disrepair. In 1989, family members moved the garden to Druid Hill Park near the conservatory, where it includes plantings of some of the roses which John Cook cultivated and named for his beloved Baltimore such as: “Frances Scott Key,” “Pearl of Baltimore,” “Preakness,” and “Baltimore.”

The sundial in the center of this rose garden is quite unique. It tells the time in thirteen different locations not just where you stand. The early spring afternoon we visited it was about 2:30pm eastern time so even though the conservatory website claims the the sundial’s time can be off as much as an hour and forty-five minutes, when looking at the pictures, it was pretty close to on-time.

I could not find any information on why each of the 13 places were chosen for the different facets on the sundial. I wonder if there is some correlation between Mr. Cook’s rose names and the places on the sundial? Maybe the board of governors for the conservatory each chose a place? Maybe those that donated money to have the piece constructed were allowed the luxury of choosing a location? Maybe it was an arbitrary collection of locations? Who knows? I guess that will take much more research.


  1. I haven’t been to Rawlings in years, so I very much liked seeing the pictures and reading up about the sundial. Thank you for bringing back some wonderful memories!

    Liked by 1 person

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