Pasqueflowers: queens of the spring
|Pulsatilla vulgaris in early April|
Plain old common European pasqueflower. Latin pasque has just passed, and Orthodox Eastern is a month away--and these shall reign supreme in between (as usual). I remember early in the Rock Alpine Garden's history this had spread so much (hundreds if not thousands of plants) throughout the garden that I got one of the very few mandates of my career to "remove those weeds"--which I did. Regretfully! A few persisted, and this is one of the progeny of those, still making a spectacle in bloom and later in seed as well.
|Pulsatilla patens by the Foothills highway south of Boulder|
I think my favorite will always be our native species, so common throughout the Piemont mesas and foothills of Colorado. I have seen it above timberline on Medicine Bow pass and also in the Collegiate peaks. These rather small specimens were all that I found where there are usually huge clumps during last year's drought.
|Frontal view of the same...couldn't resist!|
Pulsatilla vulgaris (Red shades)
I have some very mixed feelings about red pasqueflowers. Ordinarily I am very fond of red--but these never seem to capture the same purity of redness that they do in the violet and lavender shades...the jury is still out. I once grew a fulminating, gorgeous red garnet flowered P. ambigua--which I must scan and post some day...admit it: even though the flower is showy--isn't there something sort of cardboard about the red? Or perhaps Necco-wafery? As a presidential candidate once said: "we want a choice, not a Necco"...
I am not at all convinced this is the correct name for this diminutive morsel which I first grew a quarter century ago. I would grow it--again and again--from various sources and it would survive two, maybe three years before disappearing. I decided it was a miff (or is it a mimp? two extremely useful rock garden adjectives coined by H. Lincoln Foster, one of my heros)...
Then, Laporte Avenue Nursery began selling it (don't try--they don't have it this year). Their form looked identical to what I used to grow--only it was husky and vigorous. I have a half dozen wonderful clumps from them that bloom late in the pasque flower season, and delight me for weeks on end....
But what of Pulsatilla campanella which I have grown for years, and admired on the Tian Shan mountains? And the brooding P. pratensis in its many forms...or the opalescent cups of P. vernalis which I admired by the thousand on the Engadine half a lifetime ago...And the huge clumps of P. occidentalis in the Northern Rockies mimicking P. alpina in the Alps?
There's a lot more needs to be shown and said about this wonderful group of indispensable wildflowers...