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Tulip Garden Update: March 10, 2000

Today's Report Includes:

Gardens in the News

Spring continues to march across the continent--and has already arrived in Haines, Alaska! On Monday, Haines High School reported from latitude 59N:

"Our tulips just emerged today. This is THREE WEEKS earlier than last year. We have had a less snowy winter this year, but it must also have been warmer." (pam@mosquitonet.com)

Third Grade students on Michigan's Upper Peninsula were delighted to discover the tips of their tulips on March 2: "Usually we still have several feet of snow and temperatures in the teens, " they remarked. (sherrinyquist@hotmail.com)

During the past week, gardeners at 76 schools reported that their tulips had emerged, for a grand total of 162 gardens. Compare this week's map with last week's, and look at the difference one week of unusually warm weather made!

March 3

March 10

But A Welcome Warm Spell Leaves Worries Behind
The same thoughts were in the minds of almost all Journey North gardeners who wrote last week. Everyone was delighted by the unusually warm weather but...
  • "We are very worried because we are supposed to get snow on Friday." (Coggon, IA)
  • "We are expecting cold weather and snow again. We are hoping that the tulips will be okay." (Fremont, MI)
  • "We hope a predicted dip in temperatures doesn't cause crop failure." (Algona, IA)
  • "The weather has been predicted to return to colder, normal temperatures this weekend. Hopefully our tulips will not be frozen." (Washington, MI)

The Wild Wisdom of Native Plants
Last week's warm spell may have tricked your tulips into believing spring had arrived. But how did the native plants in your region respond? Native plants are those that have grown wild in a place for thousands and thousands of years. Because they've been around for so long, they are specially adapted to the unique climate of a region. Nature has taught hard lessons over the eons, and native plants have a wild wisdom that makes them very difficult to fool.

In contrast, your tulips are a "garden variety". (The term "garden variety" is often used to describe something with an inherent weakness.) Your tulips' genetic make up was shaped by gentle human hands rather than by nature's hand. Young and inexperienced, tulips don't have the wisdom for survival that a native plant has.

Try This!
1. Learn about a native plant that grows in your region. How is its annual cycle timed with the seasons? What adaptations does the plant have that help it survive? How does the native plant fit into the ecosystem?

2. What lessons could a tulip learn from a wise, wild native plant? Write a fable that ends with a moral, as Aesop's Fabels do. (You might want to read several of Aesop's Fables to prepare for your own writing.)

3. Then respond to:

Challenge Question #9
"What lesson can a garden variety plant learn from a wild and wise native plant?" Please send us your favorite stories! We'd love to hear them.

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

No Tulips in Texas?
The first Texas tulips emerged in January, so we've been wondering and waiting: Why have none of the gardens in TX reported blooms? We asked the Official Garden site at Hidden Hollow School in Kingwood and here's their answer:

"Our tulip plants are drying again. The weather is too warm. Although we have had rain and more moderate temperatures this year, it looks unlikely that we will have any blooms."

To Water or Not To Water?
This is the 2nd year the official Texas garden hasn't bloomed because it's too dry. Maybe we should allow watering! What does your class think?

Consider these things:
  • Journey North gardens are part of a scientific experiment.
  • Schools are attempting to track spring, using tulips as indicators of spring's arrival.
  • Do you think watering might affect the experiment?
  • Should watering be allowed? (What about weeding, fertilizing or the covering of plants to protect them from cold?)

Hold a class discussion. Try to consider concepts like "variable", "control", and "replication of results". Are there practical reasons that should also be considered in making this decision? And now...

Let's Vote!

Challenge Question #10
"Does your class think Journey North gardeners should be allowed to water their gardens? (In your answer, give all the pros and cons your class listed. Explain how you think this might affect the experiment, and how you made your decision.)"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Please Report Your News When it's Still News!
We can't track spring without your help! The maps we make each week to show spring's progress are made from YOUR data. So please report as quickly as you can when your tulips emerge and bloom. (If you report by Wednesday night you will make the week's update.) Some people are delaying a week, a month or even 2 months before they report their information! Please remember: Everyone is depending on you to announce spring's arrival in your part of the world.
How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions

Important: Answer only ONE question in each e-mail message.

1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-tulip@learner.org
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #9
(or Challenge Question #10)
3. In the body of the message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next "Data Only" Tulip Garden Update Will be Posted on March 17, 2000.

Copyright 2000 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

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