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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday -- Pulsatilla vulgaris

For Wildflower Wednesday I'm featuring Pulsatilla vulgaris, a cute little perennial wildflower that is native to Europe and the British Isles. Recently renamed by those annoying taxonomists, its Latin name used to be Anemone pulsatilla. I have several different specimens of it growing in various spots throughout my garden, in the gravel garden as well as in a bed in the back. Right now the only one flowering is a white one in the gravel garden, but a red one nearby is close to blooming.

Pulsatilla vulgaris is also known as Pasqueflower, a reference to Easter, which basically just means it blooms in early spring. One of the features of this plant that I find so endearing is that it is fuzzy all over, with tiny hairs on flowers and foliage that often catch raindrops and glisten. But unlike the also-fuzzy lamb's ear, Pasqueflower doesn't become a smelly, bedraggled, soggy mess in our very wet PNW climate.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given the plant its Award of Merit (Read about it at the RHS website here, where you'll also find a delightful list of other common names). In England it is considered Vulnerable and is classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. In its natural habitat, it grows in wooded areas or meadows, often in calcium-rich soil. There is a large colony (estimated at over 20,000 plants) in the Cotswolds, at the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's Pasqueflower Reserve.


White Pulsatilla vulgaris in the gravel garden

White Pulsatilla growing with companions black mondo grass, Ann Folkard Geranium, Sedum 'Angelina' and Kniphofia caulescens

Pulsatilla vulgaris is hardy from Zone 4 to 8 and likes well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. The flowers open when the stems are only about 4 to 5 inches tall, and after flowering, as the fluffy seedheads reminiscent of a Clematis form, the stems elongate further. I always leave the decorative seedheads for a long time, but have never seen them self sow. Once established, they set down long taproots and resent transplanting. Several different online resources claim that slugs and snails may eat new growth, but I've never had a problem with that, perhaps because I have other food to keep the buggers entertained.

Red Pulsatilla nearby getting ready to flower



I bought mine online from Bluestone Perennials here. It's also available from other online nurseries.

ForestFarm
Shooting Star Nursery

You can also buy seeds here from Chilterns.


A closeup of the white Pasqueflower showing the delicately hairy nature of the entire plant

What wildflowers do you grow?

Wildflower Wednesday, a celebration of wildflowers from all over the world, is hosted by Gail at the blog clay and limestone, and appears on the fourth Wednesday of each month. You can read about Gail's current featured wildflower False Rue Anemone here. Check out what other bloggers are saying about the wildflowers they grow.

16 comments:

  1. The lovely Pulsatilla, delicate and showy at the same time! Excellent plant to highlight Alison!

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  2. It is a beautiful plant isn't it? We also have a native one in North America, usually called the Prairie crocus (Pulsatilla patens). It is the floral emblem of South Dakota and Manitoba in Canada.

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  3. Hi Alison, Isn't it grand to be seeing a few blooms? While warm weather is not coming as soon as usual, at least we have our Pasque flowers to enjoy. Mine are not quite open yet, but will be soon.

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  4. Nice relative of the one I vaguely remember from the great plains! Fuzzies, yet softness, something I think of hearing "wildflower"...enjoying seeing the moisture on everything.

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  5. Wow yours are so far ahead of mine, here the foliage has just begun to unfurl and the buds are starting to peek out out of the ground.

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  6. They are beautiful plants, and a welcome sign that spring weather is finally arriving. Your wonderful photography emphasizes the best with these beauties.

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  7. This is one of the plants I love that simply doesn't want to grow here. Both the flower and the foliage are wonderful.

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  8. I've always been drawn to these, but the attraction has never been mutual. You captured the fuzzy essence perfectly.

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  9. Oh that is pretty - I love that last photo. I thought most furry plants didnt like wet weather, but this one seems very happy in your garden.

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  10. I had a purple one (once...)...but it didn't make it in my garden :( Yours is quite lovely :)

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  11. It's absolutely gorgeous, I love it. Wonderful photos too.

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  12. Love this beauty! I haven't had much luck with these plants they drown in my wet clay soil, but I can admire them from afar! Happy WW!

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  13. Very cute indeed! I have seen it growing in gardens in this area. A lovely flower for early spring.

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  14. Love how the flower and foliage catch the rain. A perfect early spring flower.

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  15. This is such a beautiful flower. I don't think I have ever seen it up close before. I need to try some out. I like to try them from seed, so that it can "grow up" in the yard and know where it is going to be. I have bought too many flowers who lived just a short time. I guess they panicked when they looked around my garden!

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  16. Pasqueflower is so lovely -- the leaves, the buds, and the flowers.

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