Roscoea x beesiana - plant of the month July 2012
Roscoea x beesiana is a hybrid between R. auriculata and R. cautleyoides. The epithet would suggest that it was raised at Bees Ltd, of Bulley fame in the early part of the last century but this does not seem to be the case; a selection of R. cautleyoides was exhibited by Bulley in 1926 at the Chelsea Flower Show under the name 'Beesii' to further complicate matters.
Although this hybrid has been in commerce and obviously known for a very long time, it was only recently (Cowley & C. Whitehouse, Plantsman June 2000) given a valid scientific name, having been known as R. 'Beesiana' until then (the rules of nomencleature no longer allow for the latinisation of cultivar epithets).
Above can be seen a section of the Roscoea trial beds at the RHS Wisley gardens, showing the range of variation within R. x beesiana. Because of this wide range it has proven useful to divide out selections based on flower colour, or more precisely, by degree of purple colouration in the flowers.
The 'Cream Group', or pale-flowered has the typical base colour of creamy-yellow with little or no purple streaking
The 'Gestreept Group' has a moderate amount of purple streaking on the flowers, using the dutch word for striped.
The 'Dark Group' are those plants which have heavy purple streaking on top of the creamy-yellow base colour.
Found as a sport with a pure white base colour, 'Monique' still carries traces of purple streaking. Named for the wife of Rene Zijerveld in the early 1990's
Cultivation is fairly straightforward; Roscoea x beesiana, like most of its kin enjoys plenty of sunlight on the leaves and stems but a cool, damp soil for its roots - the classic moisture retentive but well-drained. Planting the root-stock fairly deeply prevents overheating in summer and affords some frost protection in the coldest winters.