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The escarpment and the desert


by John Beaulieu (pronounced BOWL-you)

I have not posted a blog for some time… The garden is in full swing and it seems better to actually be out in the garden rather than sitting at a computer. We have been getting some much needed rain, and that gives me some time to get caught up on photos and writing…

I’m going to show two areas of the rock garden, my little ‘escarpment’ and my little ‘desert’.

One of my main rock garden areas is what I call ‘The Escarpment’, mainly because this area was built with limestone rock as is found on the Niagara Escarpment. Hard to show in photos, but the area does rise up a bit from the level backyard. There is also a crevice (hole) built in to the front of the area for ferns such as the Maidenhair Spleenwort that like to grow in such places. The crevice is protected somewhat by a ring of planters that hold some of my not-so-hardy geraniums and erodiums.

Looking back to the crevice area from halfway up the new stone pathway.

This is an old shot from a couple years ago when I started ‘The Escarpment’. Miss Tika, the cat thinks that the crevice would be a cool spot to hide in!

Another older shot showing the crevice, which was actually lined with broken cement pavers that are more or less the same colour as the limestone.

It was earlier this year when I added the walkway/steps up and around the Escarpment. My neighbour ripped up and replaced a sidewalk, so I grapped all the broken concrete to build my walkway. Once placed, caulked with moss, and aged, it looks pretty much like limestone.

Back to this morning, some views of some of my plants growing on my Escarpment. On the left we see Erodium cheilanthifolium, with the larger and higher growing Erodium manescavii (pink) with a white Geranium sanguineum behind it. In the right hand photo is the small alpine Geranium farreri, with the slightly taller Geranium ’Chadwell’s Ghost’ behind it.

A closer look at ‘Chadwells Ghost’. I have not found any info on this plant. I grew it from a seed exchange.

Also grown from a seed exchange is Geranium farreri. All these in-ground plants are quite hardy, surviving our record cold last February, often down to -35°C.

Those in planters are either not hardy and must come in for the winter, as is the case with this erodium, or they are annuals. There are a few species of both geraniums and erodiums that are annuals.

Both the regular form of Erodium ‘William Bishop’, and the double form must come in for the winter. A few of these close-ups were shot a few days ago.

A closer look at the erodium species that goes by the commercial name ‘Stephanie’ in the UK.

Erodium manescavii is very hardy and can be found locally at places such as Lost Horizons, near Acton, Ontario.

There are a few non-geraniaceae growing on the Escarpment.

This evening primrose, Oenothera triloba, was grown from the seed exchange. They open their huge yellow flowers in the evening and overnight… You must look in the morning if you want to see them. The size of the bloom and the look of the foliage has led to the common name of Texas Dandelion!

Near the Escarpment, I have another bed which I call ‘The Desert’, and here I house some annual erodiums that would be found in similar conditions in the Middle East. It’s not a real dry desert, just mulched with golden sand (not so golden here because it just rained) and sand coloured rocks.

I have two plants of E. gruinum, each from different seed distributions, The inset plant has slightly more open petals than the one in the main photo. I’m afraid they only last a day… If you don’t look until after noon you will only find the petals lying on the sand! These are only plants that would interest the serious geraniphile.

The other one is Erodium televivense… Also annual, also flowers that do not last long. It has huge beaks when it sets seed! They can be 5 inches long, even though the flowers are small.

More blog posts by bowl_you

Previous post: Mid-winter sowing in Canada

Next post: Erodiums



Stunning flowers and all your hard work has definitely paid off. I agree with you about using the pavers, after a while no-one would know unless you told them and a much better use for them.
We have heaps of broken concrete of 'interesting' size and shape which I am planning to use - if I can ever move them!
The escarpment looks stunning and completely natural.

13 Jun, 2015


Yes the escarpment is brilliant and the crevice looks so natural. its amazing how quickly everything has settled in and covered. Time has raced along - it dioesn't seem long since you showed your garden under the snow!

What a fantastic collection of geraniums, and such unusual ones. Do you think its time to write a difinitive guide to them? You have loads of material for illustrations.

13 Jun, 2015


First, thank you to Steragram and Honeysuckle for your nice comments.

I want to clarify and add to my comment about Geranium 'Chadwell's Ghost'. The name itself is just a nick-name given to this plant by the person that donated seed to the Geraniaceae Seed Distribution, simply for personal identification and not meant to be an official or registered name. I know that a few plants have been named to honour Chris Chadwell, but without his knowledge. That is not the intent here, and I guess I'm guilty of spreading the name through my postings, making it appear as an official name. Sorry about that, for any confusion that may create.

As it turns out, Chris did a little checking and found out that it is likely the plant going under his collection number of CC5939, a collection from Central Tibet in 2007. I would love to here from anyone growing this plant under either name.

16 Jun, 2015


Hello, I've been searching all over for a the dandelion evening primrose, or as you call it, the Texas Dandelion. I can't find the seeds anywhere! Not for purchase, and not for trade. Is there any chance I may be able to get some from you?

My grandparents used to have these, and I kept them alive (by seeding and reseeding) for a number of years. But poor circumstances finally won out and I lost the last of the flowers two years ago. I'd be grateful for some seeds!

(I know it's a long shot, since this post is 2 years old, but it can't hurt to try.)

26 Sep, 2017

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