Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) is a low growing perennial that's in full and glorious bloom right now. Its foliage is finely cut, lacy, and glossed with silver. The anemone-like flower is large in comparison to the size of the plant, and held up above the foliage on wiry stems. Its deep purple petals contrast beautifully with all the pastels of spring. And the fat, golden yellow ruff of anthers in the center of the flowers play beautifully off narcissus and pale tulips.
Despite all this fabulous showiness, the seedpods that follow the flowers are nearly as attractive as the flower. Held up high above the foliage, the seedheads start out as a puff of silky tassel, then over the weeks they become more fluffy. At every stage, the seedheads add great texture to the garden...
Whether in flower, foliage, or seedpod, pasque flowers are great cut for arrangements (although the stems are short...). While the purple one is the most common and easy to find, there's also the claret colored P. vulgaris 'Rote Glocke' and the snowy white 'Alba'.
Pasque flowers like sun and fairly rich soil; plant them at the front of borders, along the edges of raised beds, or fill in between bulbs where the pasque flower's pretty foliage will hide the bulb foliage as it withers away. What I love most about these dependable early bloomers is that they spread into a rewardingly generous clump, but don't run or shoulder out their neighbors. They perform over many months, starting with foliage in March, followed by April and May
flowers, then the seedheads which linger into mid-summer if the birds don't strip off all the silky floss to build their nests.