Jim Gilbert

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Tulip Garden Update: March 27, 1998

 Spring's Progress as of March 27, 1998
Today's Update Includes:

Today's Tulip Garden Data
Today's map of blooming tulips looks like a wide, rosy smile across the continent. And we're happy to say that spring has finally arrived most everywhere. Gardeners in another 43 places report that their tulips have emerged. Your map should now show a total of 204 green gardens. There are now blooming tulips in another 32 gardens, for a total of 48.

As you look at today's data, you'll see clues that can help you predict when tulips will bloom in places further to the north. Last fall we challenged you to predict spring's arrival at the 11 Official Journey North gardens. Use today's new information to refine your predictions once again. In our next report, we'll provide a chart summarizing blooming and emerging data from the 11 sites.

In the meantime, consider this question:

Challenge Question #6
"According to data from the gardens in bloom:

• On average, how many days did it take for tulips to bloom after they emerged?
• What was the range of days required for tulips to grow and bloom?"

If your own garden has not yet bloomed, use this information to help you predict the day your garden will bloom. Hold a class contest and see whose guess comes the closest.

Calling All Northern Gardens!
If you have spring fever, here's something we hope will help. While waiting for your tulips to bloom, take daily temperature readings as instructed in the Spring Fever Lesson. You can calculate the amount of heat it takes--called growing degree days--for your tulips to grow and bloom.

Close Call With the Cold?
Relieved students at Poquoson Elementary in Virginia wrote to say,"Our tulips have bloomed! We were worried because we had several cold nights and we were afraid that the tulips would be killed." (pcamblin@pes.poquoson.k12.va.us)

We're happy to report that nobody has yet reported FROZEN tulips. Let's hope all our tulips get away with daring to announce spring so early!

Discussion of Challenge Question # 4
Newly emerged tulips do seem to have endured quite cold temperatures early this month. But what part of the plant can prevent the tulip from blooming, due to damage from freezing, asked Challenge Question # 4?

All of the following budding scientists all seem to agree:

"We think that if the flower bud freezes that the flower will not bloom," says students at Rockledge Elementary School." Some of our leaves are brown but our buds look okay." (rockl@pgcps.pg.k12.md.us)

"I posed the question to my 7th grade students and after some thinking time the consensus of the group was: If the bud is frozen the tulip will not bloom," reports Ms. Lenz from Random Lake, WI (plenz@lakefield.net).

"If the bud of the plant gets frozen then the tulip can't bloom," agree Tonya & Danielle 6 grade in Minnesota. (JulSti@stfrancis.k12.mn.us)

Finally, from Weirton, WV, students at Sacred Heart of Mary School said, "Tulips will not bloom if the bud is damaged due to freezing." (shms@ovnet.com)

Tulip expert Mary Meyer of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum adds: "If the flower buds freeze, they will not bloom. Tulips are OK at 25 or even 20 degrees, but temperatures below 20 degrees can be fatal to tulips. Any part that is frozen will turn white and not be able to make sugars for the flower to continue to form this year--or for the bulb to store for next year's plant."

Research Questions for You

• What is a bud? Why is it so important to the growth of the flower?
• Why can a tulip BULB freeze under the soil during the winter--with the bud inside--but be able to bloom in the spring?

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question

1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-tulip@learner.org

2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 6