Thursday, June 11, 2015

Blue eyes winking along the Little Miami River...

...but they're not mine, my eyes are green! These eyes are the tiny flowers of Blue-eyed Grass, a delicate flower in the iris family. The unassuming blossoms of Blue-eyed Grass often go unnoticed where it hides in wet prairies and sunny forest edges. "Sweet" best describes these soft blue blooms that nod on elegant long stems whenever a breeze catches them..

Blue-eyed Grass is a native perennial that hides along the Little Miami River on both sides of the bike trail. 

Even though Blue-eyed Grass is a member of the iris family, it's easy to understand why its common name marks it as grass. The leaves and stems are flat with parallel veining, just like blades of grass.

Although it has grass in its name, and its flat stems and leaves look like blades of grass, Blue-eyed Grass is actually a member of the iris family. 
What makes an iris an iris?
The parts on an iris always come in groups of three, so it's misleading when you first look at this flower. It appears to have six petals, but really it has three petals and three sepals that look just like the petals. (Usually sepals are green. They encase the flower when it's a bud. When petals and sepals look alike, they are called tepals. So our little flower has six tepals.) It also has three stamens, but with Blue-eyed Grass the yellow stamens in the center of the flower are close together and appear as one. (Botany in a Day, p 201, by Thomas J. Expel).

The delicate flower of Blue-eyed Grass nods in the gentle breezes of late spring.

Blue-eyed Grass closes up as the day progresses. I photographed these flowers in the early afternoon, and they were still going strong. In another couple of hours, the blooms would have closed.

Blue-eyed Grass

I love the poem "Blue-eyed Grass," by Mary Austin. It appears in her book, The Road to the Spring (collected poems), but a notation in the book said the poem was also published in St. Nicholas (a children's magazine) in the June 1904 issue, and it was slightly different. I found a bound collection of the 1904 issues of the magazine on Amazon and ordered it so I could see the differences. I always liked the poem in The Road to Spring, but after reading the version in St. Nicholas, I might like it more. You can decided which version you like better:

Blue-Eyed Grass                                              Blue-Eyed Grass 

BLUE-EYED grass in the meadow                           BLUE-EYED grass in the meadow
    And yarrow-blooms on the hill,                                 And yarrow-blooms on the hill,
Cattails that rustle and whisper,                                 Cattails that rustle and whisper,
    And winds that are never still;                                   And winds that are never still;

Blue-eyed grass in the meadow,                                Blue-eyed grass in the meadow,
    A linnet's nest near by,                                               And the laden bee's low hum,
Blackbirds caroling clearly                                        Milkweed that runs to be first in the field
    Somewhere between earth and sky;                          Before the butterflies come;

Blue-eyed grass in the meadow,                                Watersnakes making lacy rings
    And the laden bee's low hum,                                   Round a cardinal-flower's red spear,
Milkweeds all by the roadside,                                 And blue-eyed grass in the meadow
    To tell us summer is come.                                       To mark the noon of the year!

                          by Mary Austin                                                        by Mary Austin

St. Nicholas, June 1904, pg 703                                The Road to the Spring: Collected Poems
(A children's magazine)                                              of Mary Austin, pg 209


Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Fantastic images... Sharpness, quality and good colors .. I congratulate ..

Montanagirl said...

Such a delicate beauty to them - LOVE the color!

Roy said...

Great shots! I was always taking pictures of them in Newport, but I haven't found any here in Central PA. It's interesting that there are two versions of the poem. I like both.

Elaine said...

Beautiful little flower! My wild irises are just beginning to bloom now, and they have a very different appearance. I never would have guessed they were related. I like the first version of the poem the best. Funny that she changed it.

I haven't been reading blogs for the last few weeks and just caught up with your last few posts. Love your waterfall and the cute little Robin. We have a nest on our shed and saw mama sitting on it a few weeks ago, but so far no sign of the younguns.

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

I love the photos this is such a delicate flower.


Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

Beautiful pictures, Kelly! Love the crisp focus and brilliant color.
I have a clump of blue-eyed grass in my flower garden here in California. It was identified as a native to this area, so I was surprised to see that you said it is native back there. But I looked it up and found out that there are great many species and very widespread. And that's good--there are enough for all of us!

Tammie Lee said...

you have honored this sweet flower beautifully. it also grows here and i do enjoy being in it's presence.

Kelly said...

@ Ana - Thank you! The deep colors are thanks to the shadows of the trees along the Little Miami River and the overcast skies. I love shooting when the sun is tucked under thick clouds. It always brings a richness in color.

@ Mona - :-) color and a delicate flower...doesn't get any better!

@ Roy - I know...I guess she simplified it a little for the younger audience. I like both, but there's something about the YA version I really like.

@ Elaine - thank you, I hope they raise a nice brood. I'll check in on your blog to see if she's successful.

@ Guy - thanks, Guy! When you get down on the ground and take a close look, you get a new perspective. It's so easy to just walk past little flowers like this.

@ Mary Ann - Hi Mary Ann!! You definitely have a different species out there. It's such a cute flower, I'm glad it ranges far and wide!

@ Tammie - thank're so sweet!