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A meadow dotted with clumps of this plant, often called blue-eyed grass, is a lovely sight. Where it is hardy, 'Aunt May' has earned its place in more formal settings. Its erect iris-like foliage striped with cream brings a vertical dimension to the border and contrasts with its mostly mounded neighbors. Poor to average soil is suitable for most types; blue-eyed grass thrives in damper conditions, where it self-seeds freely.
Under 6 inches to 3 feet
6-10 inches wide, depending on variety
more varieties for Blue-eyed grass
(Sisyrinchium angustifolium) forms clumps of grassy foot-long leaves. Its winged and branched stems carry small clusters of bright blue flowers, yellow at the throat. Each lasts a single day but there is a succession. Self-seeds freely. Zones 5-8
Aunt May blue-eyed grass
(Sisyrinchium striatum 'Aunt May') is a clump-former with clean gray green iris-like leaves striped with cream. The pale yellow flowers cluster on 20-inch-tall zig-zag stems. Zones 7-8
plant Blue-eyed grass with
Lupine draws the eye skyward with its gorgeously colored and interestingly structured flower spikes. Bicolor Russell hybrids are the most popular type. Their large pea-like flowers come in amazing colors and combinations, clustered in long spikes on sturdy stems.Lupine prefers light, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic, and it does not tolerate heat or humidity well. It performs best in areas with cool summers, especially the Pacific Northwest.
One of the longest bloomers in the garden, hardy geranium bears little flowers for months at a time. It produces jewel-tone, saucer-shape flowers and mounds of handsome, lobed foliage. It needs full sun, but otherwise it is a tough and reliable plant, thriving in a wide assortment of soils. Many of the best are hybrids. Perennial geraniums may form large colonies.
Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, iris indeed comes in a rainbow of colors and in many heights. All have the classic, impossibly intricate flowers. The flowers are constructed with three upright "standard" petals and three drooping "fall" petals, which are often different colors. The falls may be "bearded" or not. Some cultivars bloom a second time in late summer. Some species prefer alkaline soil while others prefer acidic soil.Shown above: Immortality iris