April 23, 2011

Forget Easter Lilies, consider the Pasque Flower

Violet Pulsatilla vulgaris, blooming in a rock wall which runs along the foundation of my greenhouse.
 Long before Easter Lilies became synonymous with Easter in North America, nature had her own Pasque flower, that has bloomed in the high alpine meadows, just as the snow melted, ever since biblical times. Associated with both Easter or Passover, Pasque Flowers have been grown in gardens for over 200 hundred years. Pulsatilla, is a genus with about 30 species, most are true alpine plants growing at an elevation between 4000 to 8000 ft in alpine meadows and screes, just below glaciers and on those ski slopes in Europe and North America, once the snow is gone.
For us gardeners, Pulsatilla vulgaris make long lived perennials, much like the Hellebores they just get better and better every year. Sturdy, easy to care for, if anything is negative, it is that they are hard to find.
A white form of Pulsatilla vulgaris, which I started from seed, is beginning to form a nice clump in a raised alpine bed above a rock wall.
I grow most of my Pulsatilla from seed, but every now and then, I buy a few, either from a mail order source if they are offering a different species than I have, or at a local nursery if they just happen to have a large one for a good price, or a color that I don't have. ( hey, I make up my own rules!).
From seed, they are terribly easy, if you buy pre-chilled seed from Jelitto in Germany. I know I mentioned them in my last post, but their pre-chilled perennial seed us well worth it. Sure, a packet may cost $12.00 - $18.00., but you will end up with a hundred plants by autumn ( it's almost too late to start them, but you have about 3 more weeks). Plant sown now, and transplanted in the autumn, will bloom next year, and for the next 50 years, forming larger and larger clumps.

A white Pulsatilla blooming in one of my alpine troughs.

 I won't bother you with the various species, but there are no bad ones, perhaps a few fussy ones that you will not be able to grow, such as P. alpina, which we always see in Switzerland blooming in June and July, but I encourage you to try any species or strain, they all are lovely.
The seedpods of Pulsatilla provide interest and texture in the garden for the rest of the summer, and they make great additions to floral arrangements.

The seed pods of most Pulsatilla are as beautiful as the flowers. They make great additions to a rock garden or even in a floral arrangement and they last right until the autumn, with their fussy plumes. This summer, while hiking Mount Rainier, we will see many in bloom and in seed.
A red Pulsatilla vulgaris growing in another alpine trough. This was one of those trough that was covered in snow all winter, but I have never lost a Pulsatilla in any trough, even those that are not snow covered. Truly, these are alpines.

1 comment :

  1. Hydroponics

    I love gardening…….nd I want that my garden look more and more beautiful….Is dat hydropinics who help to make my plants grow fast!!!!!!!!!!!!


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