Tulip Garden Update: May 16, 2003
One look at this week's map and you know that spring has swept the continent. In many places summer weather is replacing spring. We have 10 new reports this week. Nine new gardens have bloomed and one garden has emerged. As always some gardens didn't get a chance to bloom, and each has a story to tell.
Tulips Cheerful After Old Man of the Mountain Disaster
Students from John Fuller School in North Conway, NH wrote to share their news, “We have been waiting for such long time for this happening! It's been a long, cold winter up here in the White Mts. We lost one of our natural wonders, The Old Man Of the Mountain so the blooming of our tulips has been a pleasant sight.”
River School, White River Junction, VT 05/05/103
Madbury Tulip Early Emerging Solved
Tulip Art Class
Glace Bay Shares a Lesson in Microclimate
Glace Bay, Nova Scotia happily reported last month (on 4/28) that their tulips had emerged, and they were earlier than some of the gardens in Alaska. Now we have a new report from this school up in the continent’s NE corner. It appears that tulips were planted in two gardens. The second, more sheltered location didn’t emerge until a FULL 2 weeks later.
This is a good lesson in how microclimate can affect plants. Be sure to remember next year to make notes about your garden's position in the landscape and follow the Journey North planting directions so YOUR garden site will best represent your geographic area!
Strange Looking Tulips Reflect Snowy Storms in Aspen and Crested Butte
Our Mountain Elevation experiment to predict the arrival of spring as it ascends a mountain has brought many interesting results. Just this week we heard from 2 classes who wrote with a similar problem. Their tulip flowers looked very strange.
In Aspen, Denise Vetromile’s class tulips emerged on March 30, a long time ago! They hadn’t reported Tulips BLOOMING yet, so we checked up on them. They wrote back:
“The tulips have not yet bloomed, and I have to say that these are the strangest tulips I have ever seen ... the stems are very short and they don't have the customary bloom shape. Is this normal? We have had A LOT of snow storms this spring (seems like every other day!)”
Bobby Pogoloff’s class in Crested Butte also wrote to share a similar story:
“We had snow and cold temperatures all week with a few freezing nights. I noticed some buds but no blooms yet. We made predictions based on the time between other emergence and blooming dates. Our predictions ranged from May 13 - June 2nd! Some optimists and some pessimists.”
Plants are green and kind of beat up but the color is healthy looking. Can cold and snow do this to a flower?
Another Type of Tulip Reproduction
Did you know that the tulip bulbs you planted last fall started out as a really small “off-shoot bulb” of another bulb? In other words, a "mother" bulb gave us another smaller bulb. Where did this all start? Do tulips come from seeds like the plants we grow in our vegetable gardens?
Our Tulip Expert, Dr. Mary Meyers says, “In theory, yes, you can do this, but the plant (grown from seed) will be very small and may never flower, and if it did, it would take many, probably 5 years, to get large enough to flower, IF all growing conditions were ideal.
In Tune with Time: Open and Close
The opening and closing of flowers is a really fun phenomenon to observe. It is fun to “think like a plant” to try and understand why this happens. Of course if we think like a plant we must first think about survival. (After all, isn’t that what it is all about?)
During the time your tulips are blooming you have the perfect opportunity to study one of the laws of nature. Have you ever noticed that your tulip flowers are closed in the morning? When do they open and when do they close? This phenomenon is waiting for you to investigate!
“Tulip flowers open and close in response to heat and light. The actual mechanism is related to cell age and turgidity (water pressure). As the cells enlarge and age, they are less responsive to heat and light. The reason for opening and closing is related to the relationship of insects and the flower, it must be open for pollination and thus seed formation, very important for "getting its genes into the next generation" and perpetuation of the species.”
Find out more about this and try an experiment to help you see how you can influence the open and closing of flowers.
Who Says Plants Don’t Move?
Almost without exception plants are rooted into the ground. They can’t travel from one place to another when they want. However, plants do MOVE a lot, even though they are stuck into the ground. They move when they germinate and when they grow upwards in response to gravity. Some plant flowers open and close. Stems can wrap around trellises and “climb” upwards. Some plants have specialized systems that allow them to move- in real time, right before your eyes.
Get out the popcorn and settle in to watch a couple of plants moving- right before your eyes!
(Click on Nastic Movements: Venus Flytrap to set up the video clip. This clip uses Quicktime Player.)
Tulips and Cryogenics: A Cool Experiment
Tulip plants by their nature are early to emerge each year. This is why they have come to symbolize the arrival of spring in our International Plant Study. Each year spring storms bring ice and snow surprising tulips with temperatures and conditions that would easily kill many other plants. Why do tulips survive while others would die? There must be something special about their plant cells.
Let’s explore this question.
We tried comparing 2 different kinds of leaves when they freeze. We put some tulip leaves and some lettuce leaves in a bag and put them in the freezer for 24 hours. When we took them out they were very stiff. They crackled when we bent them. We let the leaves thaw to room temperature. Then we
When they thawed the lettuce leaves became very wet and soggy, kind of slimy, and broke apart very easily. The tulip leaves changed very little. They weren't as stiff as before but they did not become soggy and slimy like the lettuce leaves.
As cells freeze the liquid expands and breaks the cell walls. When brought to room temperature, the cells leak fluid out of the broken cell walls. This is the liquid we see on the lettuce leaves. The structure of the lettuce leaf has broken down and it easily falls apart. The tulip leaf appears to have a stronger cell wall since we do not see as much leaking fluid and the leaf is still strong and not falling apart.
What did you find?
Year-end Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts!
Please take a few minutes to share your suggestions and comments in our Year-End Evaluation Form below. The information you provide at the end of each year is the single most important tool used to guide our planning.
This is the Final Tulip Garden Update for 2003.
Thank you for participating in the International Plant Study this year with us! We look forward to welcoming you back in the fall to plan and plant Red Emperor tulips so we can track the advance of Spring 2004.
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North. All Rights Reserved.