I just finished reading “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis. It’s about baseball, specifically about the Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane and his sabermetric approach to assembling a competitive baseball team using under-valued players that other teams overlook.

I’m finding the book very helpful in making decisions related to what plants we decide to grow at the nursery. At the top of my list of potential first-round draft picks for the 2018 season is one of my favorite genera of plants for the shadier garden, Beesia deltaphylla. Its deeply veined, heart-shaped leaves form a beautiful evergreen groundcover that reaches a height of about 1 foot and is spectacular in mass plantings in shade where adequate water is available during the dog-days of summer. It sports dainty white flowers in late spring.

Beesia was introduced into cultivation in North America relatively recently when Dan Hinkley brought the first plants to Heronswood from seed collected in Sichuan Province, China in 1998. Two years earlier, Hinkley also collected seed from another beesia from the Zhongdian Plateau region of Yunnan Province, China, identified as Beesia calthifolia because of its resemblance to Caltha. I spoke with Hinkley to learn more about the introduction of Beesia into cultivation.

“Plants from the 1996 seed collection from 10,000 feet elevation in Yunnan Province were not evergreen, and within a few years had died out, making it not a particularly garden worthy plant,” Hinkley says.

The seed collected in 1998 from lower elevation in Sichuan Province produced plants that are reliably evergreen and make a beautiful addition to the shade garden. This species, Hinkley notes, is called Beesia deltaphylla because if it’s deltoid leaf shape. He adds that the taxonomy of Beesia is far from set.

It appears from my research that the same plant is available in trade in North American synonymously called B. calthifolia and B. deltaphylla. But beesia by any given name is a beautiful shade groundcover that is certainly worth growing in the nursery trade, and is absolutely a desirable plant for the shadier garden. Beesia appears prominently in multiple lists on the highly respected Great Plant Picks website, greatplantpicks.org.

Why grow Beesia deltaphylla?

  • It’s an evergreen groundcover that thrives in moist shade.
  • Finished containers garner a high price at the wholesale and retail level.
  • It’s a great companion plant for other shade lovers like hosta, Podophyllum, and ferns.
  • Glossy, evergreen leaves are very attractive.
  • Deer resistant.
  • Hardy to Zone 5b and reliably evergreen in Zones 7-9.

Mark Leichty is the Director of Business Development at Little Prince of Oregon Nursery near Portland. He is a certified plant geek who enjoys visiting beautiful gardens and garden centers searching for rare and unique plants to satisfy his plant lust. mark@littleprinceoforegon.com