White Delights ~ Blue-Eyed Grass


Members of the Iridaceae, or iris family, at least seven species of Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium spp.) can be found in Texas. Growing from hardy rhizomes, the plants produce a slender, blade-like foliage that resembles grass, giving the plants their common name. 

These early spring flowers generally bloom in various shades of blue, purple, or rose, but white variants occasionally appear. On the same day that I discovered a few unusual white spiderworts in a local vacant lot, I spotted this white version of blue-eyed grass tucked in among them.

The curved peduncle and upright flower brought to mind an Art Nouveau wall sconce; the fact that blue-eyed grass is related to a variety of garden and other irises reminded me of this, from poet Mary Oliver:

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence into which
another voice may speak.

Comments always are welcome.


54 thoughts on “White Delights ~ Blue-Eyed Grass

  1. Good morning, Linda: Your photographs are always so wonderfully crisp with an artistic balance to them too, so combined with the exquisite words of Mary Oliver, it nudges perfection very closely. I wish you lived next door.

    1. Those are kind words, David. I was especially pleased with the form of this flower, and happy to capture all the little details.

      It would be great fun having you as a neighbor, but I fear you might tire of my incessant questions about the birds we’d share. In truth, it would be enough to be in the neighborhood, and able to go on those walks that you lead. I expect there would be some flowers worth noticing, too.

  2. That shot is beautiful and wonderfully sharp with a lovely DOF. Many of your close-up shots have been excellent in recent times. Wish I could still get down that low.

    1. I’m grateful that I’m still that flexible. I suspect that my boat work is largely responsible. Given the number of times I’m up, down, and all around in a given day, there’s not much need for the gym or yoga when it ends.

      I first was attracted by the curved flower stem, but when I saw that the plant had both a flower and buds, it was like Christmas. There was no way I wasn’t going to get down on the ground for that one.

    1. I still wonder about finding both white blue-eyed grass and white spiderwort in the same lot, but I was more than willing to give thanks for them — especially since there were enough of each to give me some choice of subject.

  3. To think beauties like this can be found in an empty lot. Of course, what can be a weed in one place – is purchased at the nursery somewhere else. duh…

    1. As the years go by, I’ve become more convinced that most ‘vacant’ lots really aren’t. Even construction sites can be home to a lot of interesting plants, and a lazy absentee landlord who’s reluctant to get to the mowing can be a plant-lover’s best friend!

    1. I’m fond of white flowers, and Mary Oliver’s poetry almost always appeals; I was pleased by the combination, and I’m glad you appreciated it, Laurie. Thanks!

    1. Honestly? Sometimes I think the seeds have been there since before the gas stations and houses and tumble-down sheds arrived. Eventually, the people stop mowing and weed-eating and spraying herbicides, et voila! Flowers!

    1. It seems that Mary Oliver has words to suit nearly any occasion, and most experiences of nature. I’m always happy when I find a way to share her work, and this seemed just right.

    1. Thank you, Pete. I was more than a little surprised to find that tiny, elegant flower on its tiny, curved stem, but I was especially pleased to be able to capture and share it. I’m glad it pleases you.

  4. another version I’ve never seen. seen them pale pale blue but not white. I was walking the dog a year ago or so last spring when I spotted a nice clump of blue eyed grass in the easement of a property that was kept mowed so when I got back I got my shovel and dug it up. it now grows and blooms in one of my flower beds.

    1. Once they take hold, they seem to spread pretty easily. There are a few places where I can count on finding them each spring, and sometimes entire ditches are blue. I’m glad you rescued some; they certainly would fit in with your other native plants.

  5. What a gorgeous shot! Blends perfectly with Mary Oliver’s lovely verse. I don’t guess we ever tell each other often enough, Linda, but I’m delighted we connected virtually — I learn so much from my online friends, and that learning truly expands my world beautifully … so thank you!

    1. And despite being online friends, think of the experiences we’ve shared (yes, I’m thinking Dixie and Dallas), and the places we’ve both enjoyed. Some day you’ll get back to Mississippi or I’ll get to the midwest, and with luck we’ll connect in real time — it would delight me no end.

  6. It’s a gorgeous shot, Linda. Wow–a white blue-eyed grass bloom–who woulda thunk? I wonder if there’s something in the soil that is causing so many (relatively speaking) white forms? It’d be an interesting experiment for a botanist or soil scientist to research.

    1. You know, I’ve wondered about that myself. If there’s something in the environment that switches a gene on or off in both plants, I’d think it would have to be in the soil: perhaps in those mycorrhizae. On the other hand, it could be a random synchronicity. Who knows? I’m not a plant geneticist, I’m a plant appreciator, and I sure did appreciate finding these!

      1. Love your term ‘plant appreciator’ and I’m happy to be one too. This lovely flower is certainly worthy of appreciation!

        1. I like to think that plant appreciators are like a musician’s audience. If the flowers are going to perform, of course they like to be appreciated by those around them: bees, butterflies, beetles. If people want to join in, all the better!

    1. There’s no question that artists often draw inspiration from life. Of course, had I been a scientist, I might have seen the stem as half of a sine wave: something that only occurred to me after I got done appreciating it as a bit of natural Nouveau.

      Sometimes I appreciate an Oliver poem in different ways, too, but I always appreciate them.

    1. There always are surprises in the garden and in nature, and finding unexpected white flowers (and ladybugs) are two of my favorites. As for Mary Oliver, she was such a prolific writer, there’s always a surprise in her work, too. Two surprises together make for a fine experience.

  7. If we are thankful for the small things, the flowering weeds as well as the rose, then we are full of happiness. I like the sidelong perspective when most often we’d be lining up a full frontal shot. As always, you’ve picked an excellent verse and, of course, it doesn’t get much better than Mary Oliver.

    1. I’ve learned to circle around anything before I start to shoot: at least, if it’s a flower or fungus and not an insect or bird I’m trying to sneak up on. If I’d not done that in this instance, I might well have missed that curved peduncle and ended up with a more pedestrian shot. It sure is proof that the obvious oddity isn’t always the only oddity.

  8. I knew this blue-eyed gal liked that Blue-eyed Grass. Bearded irises are among my most favorite flowers. Oddly, I don’t care much for the “Japanese iris” (Iris spuria). I like your evocation of Art Nouveau, that most swoonworthy of styles of art/design. The white contrasted against the blurred green gives it that special pop. I think this one might just have to go into the wallpaper program. As usual, Ms. Oliver hit the nail on the head: What are the beauties and endless variety of Nature but “the doorway into thanks, and a silence into which another voice may speak”?

    1. I’d never heard of the Iris spuria. It bears some similarity to our various native irises, which are my favorites. The bearded iris are pretty, but they’ve never appealed to me in the same way. To each her own, and all that.

      What we do share is a love of Art Nouveau. I suppose most people don’t recognize that my avatar is a detail from Alphonse Mucha’s “Poetry” — a part of his Four Muses series. When I began this blog — in the era BC, or before camera — I used the entire illustration as the header image for each post.

      As for Mary Oliver, she surely is one of those other voices who speaks so well into the silence.

    1. I can’t wait to see your spring flowers, Gerard. With your paintings and etchings hung, your flowers blooming, and your drinks of choice at hand, it sounds like a more than pleasant environment. Even with the world in the state it’s in, there are plenty of reasons to give thanks.

    1. Thank you, Tom. It’s nice to remember these spring flowers in the midst of our August heat, and it’s important to remember Oliver’s words, since giving thanks for our usual summer sauna isn’t always easy!

  9. Imagine how often we humans rush past a “vacant” lot without even a glance. Thank you for focusing our attention on a spot of beauty and providing a reminder for us to seek out small joys as well as large ones.

    And now you have provided a new poet for me to research.

    1. I think you’ll enjoy Mary Oliver. If you seach for her name in my blogs, you’ll find some of my favorites. I turn to her words every now and then, just because she has the ability to express so much, so beautifully.

      As for those ‘vacant’ lots, most of them aren’t vacant at all. In fact, some of the most unlikely places often contain real treasures — at least partly because they’re less well tended by the humans who like to whack everything down as soon as it starts looking a tiny bit messy!

  10. Hi Linda, a delightful discovery, this extra blog of yours. I was idling over The Task At Hand when I came across this unexpected surprise. How very beautiful.

    1. Friko! I’m so glad you found this little corner of my world. I started it as a photography blog, although it’s often got bits of poetry and other such included. It slowed down my posting at The Task at Hand somewhat, although I am intending to get that back on a weekly schedule once this summer heat breaks. I’m often so weary at night that my creative energy ebbs, too.

      At any rate, I’ve really enjoyed this blog as a place to share the natural places I’ve found: usually flowers, but also insects, birds, and other interesting tidbits, like the feather that’s in my current post. Maybe you’ll find some other bits of beauty to enjoy here, too.

      1. what you have created here is beautiful indeed, long may your creative energy last.

        I have been thinking of you and hoping that you are okay. We hear of hurricanes in your part of the world on the news and that the Texan coast was particularly endangered recently. Stay safe, stay happy, stay content.

        1. Good day to you! All is well here; we were unaffected by Hurricane Laura, although it certainly passed too close for comfort. My relative absence here (and at your place, by the way) is due to being without my computer the past week. My computer’s hard drive crashed, and the external hard drive I use for backups was somehow affected. All’s well now, but it was frustrating beyond belief to be without my magic machine!

          The heat of August has been hard on flowers as well as people, but I’m intending to get out this holiday weekend and see how things are. Discoveries like this little flower are wonderful fun, and it soon will be fall flower season.

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