Of all the flushes of new growth and bright flowers of spring, Pulsatillas are my favorite harbinger of this vibrant season. Among the earlier of perennials to bloom, Pasque flowers emerge from dormancy covered with silky hairs that lend a silvery tone to their soft green, lacy leaves. They quickly produce fat buds that are equally furry; the entire plant just begs to be touched! These buds open into both nodding and upright cup shaped blossoms in shades of purple, red and white. Their stamens are arranged in a ball of golden color with a tuft of purple in the center, looking like a little pineapple. The seed heads that follow are akin to thin, silky feathers gathered into pompoms that last for weeks, swaying in the slightest breeze and really adding to the overall show. Pulsatillas are one of those refined yet bold flowers that don't need any frills to be visually exciting. They truly stand out when placed at the edge of a border or nestled among boulders in a rock garden, especially when scattered about. They can reseed themselves if happy, although not so heavily as to be a nuisance. The seedlings of this special perennial are welcome in most gardens and often vary in bloom color from their parents, creating a wonderful blend of tones throughout their clumps. Pasque flowers are best situated in a spot with plenty of spring sun, but some afternoon shade during the hot summer months, otherwise they simply go dormant early. This can be achieved by placing them next to a perennial that does not have much of a presence in spring, but come summer is a towering, shade providing neighbor. Native to the prairies and steppes of central Europe, Pulsatillas prefer well drained soil and will even tolerate gritty, nutrient poor soil. On the smaller side, Pasque flowers only reach 6-8 inches tall and spread 12-18 inches in time. Their diminutive stature allows them to be easily stashed into any remaining blank nooks that show up in the springtime garden. Year after year this sweet little plant will reward even the most negligent gardener when it sparkles with morning dew in March and is smothered with jewel toned beauties throughout April.