Sweet Dreams and Blue Eyes

I relived one of the literally sweetest experiences of my childhood yesterday and I didn’t even have to journey the five hours back “home” to the groves my father used to tend so lovingly. We Glad gardeners visited a local nursery just to get one replacement plant for our project of last fall.

navel oranges in bloom

We were looking for a helianthemum, and they are in the area in back of the store, so we passed through the breezeway and were suddenly enveloped, not in a breeze but in a stillness heavy with fruit and flowers.

Overlapping rows of pots containing various citrus trees, including many oranges and mandarins, lined the alley and were exhaling their essence into that space. For me it was a whiff of the deep past, springtimes slowed down to a dream — orange trees taking their sweet time and confusing the mind, because isn’t springtime when everything and everyone is waking up and getting busy…?… but this air is like a drug that makes me want to lie on the grass and let my eyelids droop.

grapefruit and orange trees side-by-side

Our house was surrounded on all sides by orange trees, so that for many weeks every year we walked around in our own tropical island of scent. Can you imagine living in that house and being allergic to orange blossoms? Two family members were — and I pity them mightily, because orange blossoms are one of the happiest things in the data bank of my senses.

My husband and I had only a few minutes to find our plant, so I couldn’t linger, I quickly pushed on through to the shelves of California native plants and other drought-tolerant species. Our first choice wasn’t there, but we found this:

I had luckily forgotten my Western Garden Book in the car so I had to make two more passes through the little paradise to retrieve it. Then we read a bit together about the above plant and some other offerings.

In the end we did decide on this dear low-growing plant, a newish species of Blue-eyed Grass, developed from a California native, and sufficiently xerophytic for our needs. I remember my friend May showing me one of these wildflowers decades ago as we hiked in the Coast Ranges of our state. They aren’t really grasses but are actually in the Iris family, which seems obvious now that I know it.

new planting last October

Except for the one that died, all the plants of our project shown at right are bigger now, but there’s still a lot of space to be filled in.

I can’t settle on which is more fun as a name, Sisyrinchium or Blue-eyed Grass. This is the first we’ve ever had them in our yard, and as you can see, we bought two, because they are small. I planted them tonight, where a blue penstemon, actually two, one after the other, had died last year. I hope to have nice photos of them and the whole bed to show in the future.

And before the citrus bloom is past I will return to that nursery when I have time enough time to wander. I’ll consider the snapdragons in the back, and then the perennials in the front, and I’ll go back and forth through the citrus tree lane at least a few times. I’ll walk slowly each time past the mandarins and Meyer lemons and orange trees and sip my sweet daydream.

5 thoughts on “Sweet Dreams and Blue Eyes

  1. Blue eyed grass is a favorite of mine…and I never realized it is an iris, but it is just as you say, obvious now! Fragrance and memory..you have shared another lovely…


  2. I've seen the blue-eyed grass in the Hills near where we live and it's gorgeous. I love to grow things that are more native to our area. I hope your blue-eyes grow beautifully.

    I'm hoping to plant yucca (transplants) in my yard this spring.

    I can only imagine the scent of orange blossoms.


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