Purple and Yellow Pasque Flowers in Early Spring

Low growing pasqueflowers in xeriscape garden.

After the Dwarf Iris have made their mark, and Grape Hyacinths are popping up, Pasque flowers are one of the first herbaceous perennials to bloom in early spring. The Xeriscape gardens continue to come to life with these low-growing, fuzzy, flowering plants.

As an early spring perennial flowering plant, it’s low-growing. The plant looks fuzzy as its stems and buds are covered in tiny hairs. This feature aids in protection against the cold and wind of the early spring variable conditions. Given it can still snow well into May, having a little extra insulation helps!

What’s in a Name? Why it’s Called Pasque…

Blooming pasque flower plant in xeriscape garden.
Purple and yellow Pasque flowers blooming in xeriscape gardens.

Given my Italian roots and the fact that Pasqua in Italian means Easter, I figured out their name. And of course the fact that they bloom right around Easter made sense. But for those that may not know or are curious…

“Pasque is the Old French word for Easter, and it is around that time of year that the plant blooms in some regions of the world.”

Plant Taxonomy classifies Pasque flower as Pulsatilla vulgaris. Given when it typically blooms, another common name for this plant is “Easter flower”.

Regardless of all the flower technical stuff, one thing is for sure, after a long winter, these early bloomers have become a perennial favorite to photograph.

Pasque Flowers – Purple with Bright Yellow Centers

Flowering herbaceous perennial plant in early spring.
Pulsatilla vulgaris flowers in early spring.

It’s hard to miss these brightly colored beauties. With their purple petals and bright yellow centers against the otherwise barren gardens, they are a welcome sight. As a low-growing, herbaceous perennial they form a clump that spreads over time. And so far this spring, they are looking mighty happy. In fact they look the best since I’ve been going to the gardens for my flower photography. Perhaps the weather was perfect for them this season? It’s not been as snowy a spring as one would have hoped.

They do like full sun and require low-water – which I suspect makes them ideal for the Xeriscape gardens. The spots where they are the most prolific appear to be some prime real estate!

A cluster of purple any yellow pasque flowers.
A cluster of low-growing Pasque flowers in spring.

Given these are such low-growing, flowering plants, as with most of the other spring early risers, it takes some interesting positions to capture the photos. At least the kind of photos I prefer to take. And this season is the first with a new lens. So far I must say I’m really enjoying it!

As per usual, I’m armed with my nice thick garden pad. It’s a life-saver for getting these types of close shots. Otherwise my knees would be taking a serious beating kneeling among the rocks and mulch of the gardens.

As I stroll the gardens in the morning, you can watch as the flowers slowly open their way to greet the warming morning sun. It’s a slow pace of observation and opportunity for me and my camera!

Fuzzy Stems with Silky White Hairs

The leaves of the pasque plant are grayish-green and fuzzy. As you can see in the up-close photo below, silky, white hairs cover not only the leaves but also the stems giving the plant a fuzzy look. Even the purple buds have a light peach fuzz covering them. They really are unusual.

Fuzzy pasque buds with their feathery foliage.
Purple Pasque flower buds with their fuzzy stems and silky-haired foliage.
Purple Pasque buds covered in fuzzy white hairs.
An early spring, low-growing cluster of fuzzy Pasque flower buds.
Pasque flowers surrounded by snow after a spring storm.
Pasque flowers surrounded by snow after a spring storm.

Some other features of these early spring perennials is that they are rabbit-proof. That works in their favor as the gardens have their fair-share of resident rabbits!

They are fairly drought-tolerant and are well-suited to dry climates with cold winters – perfect for Colorado!

And like all the botanical, native, miniature, wildflower and species tulips that will soon be dotting the gardens landscape, pasque flowers emerge early in spring.

Often it can be before all the snow has melted. Or when an April snow storm hits – as seen in the photo to the left.

Very Bee-Friendly Plants

With many flowers in short supply so early in the season, bees gravitate to these early spring flowers as they can be seen collecting pollen soon after they bloom. An early spring bloomer, these bee-friendly flowers provide essential early season nectar for  honeybees.

Bee gathering pollen on pasqueflower in early spring.
Bee gathering pollen on Pasque flower in early spring.

As the early flowers of spring continue to come to life in the xeriscape gardens, each visit is a surprise. Nature does it’s thing and I happily welcome each unique moment with camera in hand and lots of gratitude 🙂

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