Plant Profile - Pasque Flower
Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris, (alternatively Anemone pulsatilla depending on your reference) goes by several common names, the most misleading of which is 'prairie crocus'. Early settlers saw the small purple flowers of its cousin Anemone patens poking thru the dead grasses on the prairie in the early spring and thought they resembled the Crocus that they knew from 'the old country' which are actually bulbs. The name 'Pasque Flower' is a reference to Easter although in Calgary they generally bloom in late April, early May, often one of the first perennial plants to bloom for us in the spring. One of the prettier common names for it I think is 'Windflower' which is as much a reference to the fuzzy seed-heads that are rather interesting in the garden if you leave them up to blow in the wind.
Pulsatilla vulgaris Rubra is a red cultivar that is Calgary's official flower. Other colors available are purple & white.
Pasque flower is hardy for us here in the Chinook belt and fits into the 'can't kill it with a stick' category of plants. It requires a sunny well drained location and not much more once established. Actually, this is a plant that can be killed by too much love. Bees love them and the timing for these flowers helps pollinators as they bloom at a time when food sources aren’t as plentiful as they will be soon.
Pasque flowers I find to be good 'stand alone' plants that can be used singly in the border to fill a small gap rather than in larger drifts or groupings that are often done in the perennial border. The flowers don't last an especially long time but the foliage and seed heads are interesting for the remainder of the season.
What makes these especially welcome in the Calgary garden is the burst of reliable color in the early to mid-spring period where we are just pulling out of the 'brown season' and we seem to have a greater appreciation for things like this. A very worthy addition to your garden if you have a sunny space.