Posts Tagged ‘runner bean’

Beans for flowers

May 3rd, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Runner Beans 'Aurora', 'Painted Lady' and 'Snowdrift'

Everyone can grow runner beans. And with the arrival of plants that look and taste like runner beans, but which are actually hybrids with climbing French beans, we don’t have to worry about them failing to set in unsuitable weather.

But we grow runner beans for more than just the beans. We grow them for their flowers too. And here there comes a different distinction.

If you like red flowers, then grow ‘Firelight’, the latest in the range of hybrid runner beans that reliably sets pods in bad weather. If you like white flowers, then ‘Snowdrift’ (above right) is the variety to look for. But if you like runner bean flowers in other colours, then you must turn your attention to traditional runner beans.

‘Painted Lady’ (above centre) features red-and-white bicoloured flowers. This is an old heritage variety that had deteriorated but has been brought back to its former standard. One of the good things about it is that the plants are less vigorous than those of other runner bean varieties and that can be useful in a small garden. ‘St George’ also has red-and-white flowers but is more vigorous and with more pods per cluster.

Then there are those with pink flowers. ‘Celebration’ has flowers in reddish pink while the flowers of ‘Aurora’ (above left) are more of a pale salmon pink. Be sure to keep these traditional runners moist to encourage good fruit set.

There’s also a very attractive red-and-white flowered dwarf variety, ‘Hestia’, that you can grow in patio pots for a compelling combination of colourful flowers and home-grown beans.

Order seeds now, or pick up packets from the garden centre over this holiday weekend, and sow them indoors straight away or outside over the next Bank Holiday. Looks good, tastes good – can’t beat it.

Victorian ways with runner beans

September 28th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 2 Comments

Dwarf runner bean 'Hestia' - why not overwinter it in a pot?

A couple of months ago I was taking a look at one Victorian gardening magazine, I’ve now been leafing through another: The Gardener’s Magazine And Register of Rural & Domestic Improvement conducted by J. C. Loudon – Volume X, 1834. My copy is stamped as volume 229 of the Birmingham and Midland Counties Gardeners’ Mutual Improvement Association.

Two things are striking about these venerable editions. Subjects are discussed that are never mentioned in magazines today and, of course, there’s the precision and elegance of the prose. Even the contents pages are an intriguing and satisfying read. In this volume, contents include:
“On the Advantages which Gardeners may derive from inspecting the Gardens of others;”
followed by
“On the Importance, to Gardeners, of visiting Gardens; and on the Restrictions on some Cases, thrown in the Way of their doing so,” written under the pseudonym of Scientiae et Justitiae Amator.”

And then: “On the Propagating of Purple Broccoli from Slips (i.e. cuttings),” referencing an earlier contribution on the subject of growing cabbages from slips. A technique, I have to say, I’d never heard of.

“On the Culture of the Onion by Sowing and Transplanting”, on the other hand, turns out to be instruction on producing your own onion sets, something I remember Geoff Hamilton telling me about.

Fortunately, we no longer need the “Diagrams explanatory of modes of applying steam, conducted in narrow tubes, to the heating of water and beds of stones, relatively to the culture of plants of various kinds.” We just flick the switch on the heater.

But there’s also: “On taking up the Roots of the Scarlet Runner in the Autumn, preserving them through the Winter, and replanting them in Spring.” Dug up in November and replanted in February in the greenhouse, the author’s plants were 12 feet high in May! And how high by the end of summer?

But this is a technique that might just be worth trying with the dwarf and bushy runner bean, ‘Hestia’. Hmmm…

Mr Fothergill’s Is On A Quest To Find The UK’s Longest Runner Bean!

April 2nd, 2018 | Competitions, News, The vegetable garden | 2 Comments


Are you up for a challenge?  If you always clean up at the village show for the coveted title of ‘longest runner bean’ then this challenge is the one for you this summer!

A couple of years ago we ran a staff runner bean growing competition and the winning runner bean was a whopping 47.2cm in length. This year we want to throw the net wider and get the nation growing lengthy beans, and so are launching a competition to seek out the UK’s longest runner bean.

There will be 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes for the 3 longest beans, and of course, the winner will get to proudly state they are officially the UK’s Runner Bean Growing Champion of 2018 too!

How to Enter

  • You can grow any type of runner bean in this competition but we would recommend Runner Bean Guinness Record or Runner Bean Enorma if you really want to grow some lengthy beans.
  • Post pics of your beans on Facebook or Twitter and let us know how your young plants are getting along. We’ll have some random giveaways each month for great pictures posted with the hashtag #MrFLongestBean
  • You have until 30 September to grow the UK’s longest bean. Post us a picture on Facebook or Twitter of your bean with proof of its length.

The prizes

  • 1st prize: £50 worth of Mr Fothergill’s seeds
  • 2nd prize: £30 worth of Mr Fothergill’s seeds
  • 3rd prize: £20 worth of Mr Fothergill’s seeds

The Rules

Let’s not drag things down with loads of rules!  But…

  • The winners will be chosen after the competition closes at midnight on 30 September.
  • There are three prizes, with spot prize giveaways each month for fabulous runner bean pictures.
  • Mr Fothergill’s team reserves the right to choose the photos they deem the best for the spot prizes each month. Our decision is final and we will not enter into correspondence on our choices.
  • The 3 longest beans by 30 September will be chosen based on the photos submitted proving their length.
  • There is no cash alternative, the prize in non-transferable and may not be substituted by the winner.
  • If you are not the runner bean grower, and the photo you submit is not your photo, we reserve the right to disqualify you! Only your own pictures of your own produce please!

April and May is the perfect time to set your prize beans going. Take a look at the runners we have on the website here:

And good luck!!