Pasqueflower, Easter flower or Meadow Anemone (Pulsatilla vulgaris), is one of my favourite plants. Almost every stage of its flowering is interesting: The large flower heads emerge in spring (close to Easter) along with the foliage, all of which is covered in fine silky hairs, and look striking especially when backlit by low spring sunshine. The flower heads rise on strong stems, holding buds clear of the foliage – as shown above. The leafy bracts surrounding each flower remain part of the interest as the flowers open. Post-flowering, the dramatic seed heads carry on the drama.
Although it is a British native, it is now rare, being found only on chalk down land in a few places. I’ve never seen it in the wild. It is, however, common in cultivation, where it is available in a range of colours including white, reds and purples as well as the wild mauve form. It is usually found in the alpine section.
The RHS says “Grow in very well-drained soil in full sun; suitable for rock garden, scree or alpine bed. Resents disturbance and can be hard to establish”. I planted several 9cm pots of mixed colour Pasqueflowers on my green roof, and they established very quickly. In fact they are one of my most successful green-roof plants having flourished even through the neglect and drought of 2014 that finished off most of the original green-roof planting. Those original Pasqueflowers have gone on to form robust clumps 18 inches across that produce dozens of flowers each. They seem to love the roof environment – thin soil, full sun and baking heat, so much so that they self seed freely, but not invasively.
The one downside to Pasquflower is it’s rather short flowering season. Each flower lasts only a few days, and they are all over in a couple of weeks. So I have been pleased and surprised that my green-roof clumps have just decided to put on a second, albeit more modest show this August. I don’t recall this happening in previous years, and I can find no reference to this phenomena on the web. I wonder what combination of factors has led to this reactivation? Are they happy or stressed?
Here they are in their decidedly non-Easter glory: