What: This low-growing lavender-colored wildflower is one of the first to peep out on open, rocky slopes in the spring — sometimes around Easter or Passover. It grows 6 to 8 inches tall in shade or full sun and looks a bit like a hairy crocus. When it opens, the centers are a medium yellow. Called wild crocus by pioneers, it is actually in the buttercup family.
What's cool: Although the native species (Pulsatilla patens) is tricky to grow in gardens, the larger and showier Eurasian species (Pulsatilla vulgaris) is not. It will tolerate bright sun or part shade and any kind of soil, from loam to clay to sand, and can be found in bright red and deep purple as well as pale lavender. It looks particularly beautiful in a rock garden or in the front of a border.
Where to see it: At Denver Botanic Gardens, the best colonies of the Eurasian species are found in the Rock Alpine Garden throughout May. It is almost as beautiful in tousled, hairy seed as in demure flower. Look for the wild species on slopes where winter wind doesn't blow away the snow, or other pockets of terrain that retain some moisture.
Spring Has Sprung | Pulsatilla