Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pasque Flower Signals that Spring is Here by Elaine Lockey

Spring arrives officially today, March 20, the vernal equinox.  By now you’ve probably been wandering around your garden looking for signs of spring’s arrival: buds opening on the serviceberry, bright yellow Winter Aconite flowers, Narcissus leaves emerging, or the sight of a robin.  One of the signs I look for is the emergence of Pasque Flowers, Pulsatilla patens (syn. Anemone patens). 

A Colorado native, this blue-lavender flower will emerge through the snow in natural areas in the foothills to sub-alpine areas.  It is fuzzy all over – petals, stems and leaves.  Flowers emerge before the finely cut leaves do. After the flowers come beautiful globe-shaped seed heads that last for many months providing interesting texture above the green mound of leaves. The plant is 6-12” high, with one cup-shaped flower per stem.

The European Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris, is a highly versatile perennial that offers similar lavender-blue color and cultivars in white or wine-red.  All are stunning and look great planted in clusters.  This perennial does well at lower elevations and up to 9000’, especially loving garden beds that have good drainage with low to moderate moisture. 

Adding this unique plant to your garden will provide you with a beautiful harbinger of spring.  We can never have enough of those!