The first in a new series of articles titled 'A Flower For A County' by Editor of The Plant Magazine,Kate O'Brien. Beginning with the Pasqueflower (Pulsatillavulgaris), a small flower with intense, purple petals and a long, mythical history.
The Greeks called it the 'windflower'. The Latin pulsatilla' meanslittle pulses in light wind. And Pasque' names Easter in French, the time of year when the pasqueflower, Pulsatillavulgaris,blooms.
Lifting its floppy cardinal's bonnet to face early spring light, this sensitive creature shies from cloudy weather and retires every evening with the sinking sun. Protective purple sepals of pasqueflower were once used by early Europeans to dye Easter eggs green.
Pasqueflower cyanotype by Holly Mitchell
Cloaked in myth, legend has it that pasqueflower appears in places once soaked in the blood of Romans or Danes. It is the shared County flower of Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Oppland in Norway. Last year a colony of 10,000 rare specimens emerged from the chalk grasslands at Therfield Heath, a long neolithic barrow favoured by the King James I as a hunting ground.
James I, who was obsessed with witchcraft, published a tract in 1597 called Daemonologie, which described how witches raised storms and tempests out of thin air, material lifted by Shakespeare to untie the winds for Macbeth's weird sisters. To this day, in Scotland, picking the pasqueflower is thought to cause thunderstorms.
Words by Kate O'Brien - Editor of The Plant Magazine
Photographs and ceramics by artist Holly Mitchell