Blue Eyes Smilin’

Each January, a sprig of “grass” emerges from a crack in my limestone patio. I look forward to its appearance, as I know that a sprinkling of cheery little blue blooms will decorate the diminutive stalks during March and April. I don’t know where this Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium angustifolium, came from and it’s never reproduced anywhere else in my garden. I have seen clusters of them scattered in the turf at the park adjacent to the local elementary school, but I don’t know of any closer to my garden.

Not actually a grass, this sweet patio gift is a member of the iris family. Each year, I promise that I’ll look for, and collect, seeds; each year I forget. This year is no exception on the promise end of things, but I have made a note of watching it carefully as the blooms fade, in hopes of gathering seeds to sow in fall somewhere else in my garden.

Such dainty, dancy things, they wave gently with spring breezes, happily blooming where there aren’t any other blooms to compete and over-shadow.

Look at that cute face!

Next year, seeds and seed-gathering willing, they’ll grace an additional area of the garden.

As I thought about the title of this post, “Blue Eyes Smilin’ ” popped into my head, obviously a riff on the song that made Willie famous, Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, though it was written by Fred Rose. That song has been in my head all day, so I’m sharing.

20 thoughts on “Blue Eyes Smilin’

  1. When I first learned about blue-eyed grass, I couldn’t shake the impression that the “eye” was the little part in the center and that it was yellow, not blue.

    As for seeds, are there any to spare from your little existing blue-eyed grass that you could plant farther afield?


    • Maybe it’s just the whole flower that is the eye? I mean, it’s all blue, right? 🙂 I’m hoping to collect the seeds this spring. They’re just ending the bloom time, so seeds should be developing. Fingers-crossed!


  2. Lucky you, TIna! For a year or two we had a few stems of this in the yard but they disappeared. But they do pop up in the circle at the end of our cul-de-sac street and I get to see them there. Also sometimes in the wet meadow where I find Rose Pogonias and Grass Pinks. I always thought the blue was the eye and the yellow center the “pupil”.


    • I’m glad you have them nearby; they’re one of those things that make me thing “Spring!”! I’ve also always thought that it’s the flower (petals, etc.) that is the blue eyes. I’ve also thought they are kind of googly eyes, the way the flowers dance above the ground. But maybe that just me. 🙂


  3. Somewhere, I read an explanation for the common name that made sense to me. The name should properly be written “blue eyed-grass.” There are other species in the genus that are different colors, like Sisyrinchium rosulatum, that I find in sandy places like Galveston Island and the east Texas woods.

    In any event, they’re delightful plants. I found some on Saturday that were taller than any I’d ever seen; they were climbing up against a trellis to a height of about two feet!


    • I’m surprised too. I’ve wondered if maybe I’ve pulled the foliage up in a weeding frenzy, as it looks like something I might not want. That’s a real possibility.

      We have been getting rain! What a concept. Heavy, stormy noisy things, but I’m not going to complain– until the mosquitoes show up! 🙂 I’m sorry you’re missing it, but maybe late spring and summer will catch you up on things.

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  4. Oh yes, they are special, aren’t they? I finally added a patch a few years back, and they seem to be doing well. They have to be caged to protect them from rabbits, but that’s the case for so much of my garden. Rabbit repellent only goes so far, especially with plentiful rain. That last photo is magical. Enjoy!


    • I am enjoying their all-too-brief blooming. I’m sorry you have rabbits that munch so much. In the last year, we’ve seen more bunnies in our ‘hood, but so far, they don’t seem to have any impact on plants.


  5. Sisyrinchium bellum and Sisyrinchium californicum are native here. Sisyrinchium californicum has yellow bloom, but is not often included within native wildflower seed mix. Sisyrinchium bellum is more common within such mixes, but looks more like Sisyrinchium angustifolium when it grows.


      • It is more like jaundiced eye grass than blue eyed grass. It looks pretty in pictures, but those that I see directly are not quite as bright yellow. I do not know if I have ever seen it growing in the wild. The few that I have seen were likely grown and perpetuated intentionally. The foliage seems to be a bit more substantial than that of Sisyrinchium bellum.

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