“The sense of community and love of gardening has been instilled in my students, thanks to you. I cannot thank you enough for the support with the garden.” —St. Paul Public Schools teacher
Over 400 second-through-sixth grade students planted 550 Red Emperor tulips last fall as part of a collaboration between Ramsey County Master Gardener Volunteers and the St. Paul Public Schools. The program involves participation in a Journey North community science phenology activity called Tulip Test Gardens.
In spring 2021, the School Garden Specialist Consultant for the St. Paul Public Schools, and the Ramsey County Master Gardener Volunteer Program collaborated to make this project happen and purchased bulbs, fencing and signage. Once that was in place, information about the project was presented to teachers and staff from eleven schools eager to participate.
Master Gardener volunteers presented mini-lessons to 23 classes on the botany of bulbs, phenology and the actual planting of the bulbs. Garden spaces had been prepared ahead of time by Master Gardener volunteers and public school staff. Following the planting, the bulbs were netted and fenced to protect the bulbs from hungry or inquisitive animals.
This spring, students have been responsible for observing and recording the dates the tulips emerge and when they first bloom. Besides creating visual data records, classes will send the information to Journey North to be compiled and compared with data from groups all over the northern hemisphere, as well as from previous years, contributing to the climate change picture.
Master Gardener intern Marlys D helped coordinator this project with with the St Paul Public School Garden Specialist Consultant and did an excellent job! More than a dozen Master Gardener volunteers went through a brief training and then taught several sessions at participating schools.
School personnel were delighted and grateful for this opportunity being provided to their students. As one teacher said, “Having you all this week was truly AMAZING, can't wait for more in the spring!"
Shoots began to emerge during the second week of April, blooming in early May. As you can see above at L'Etoile du Nord French Immersion School, the tulips have created brilliant splashes of color – and a memorable learning experience – at schools throughout the city.
Written by Susan Cathey