Originating in China and cultivated for its stem rather than its leaves. First described by Vilmorin-Andrieux (1885) when introduced to Europe, probably by missionary botanists working in China. Harvest the stems 3-4 months after sowing, at around 30cm high and at least 3cm thick. Remove the outer layer to reveal the light green flesh and cut into thin slices. The stem is excellent raw, like celery, or lightly cooked in stir fries.
Listed in James Carter's Catalogue of a Choice Collection of Floricultural, Vegetable and Agricultural Seeds of 1842, this variety was described by a contributor to The Gardener (1867); “This sort ought to be in every garden. No other variety can surpass it.” Thought to be synonymous with ‘Brighton Cos’, the large, dark green leaves have a rust-coloured tinge and are flavourful, crisp and juicy.
A light green, loose-leafed, summer butterhead lettuce that stands up well to drought. The soft leaves have a mild flavour and fine texture. So named because it produces black seeds. Seed Guardian Mike Wicken says, “An excellent variety with good flavour when young.”
A beautiful, productive California heirloom, popular in the USA but was almost unknown here. A large, non-hearting lettuce; the attractive, arrowhead-shaped leaves have a distinctive bronze tinge and mild flavour. Drought and cold hardy, so ideal for autumn sowing and overwintering; it survived frost and snowfall at Ryton. Also less popular with slugs.
This is one of the oldest of the cos lettuces and considered one of the hardiest of its type, suitable for summer or autumn sowing. It is exceedingly crisp and well flavoured. The leaves are large, broad and scooped around the margins. When exposed to sunlight these become a brownish-bronze, hence the name.
Donated to HSL during the 1980s, this unusual, open-hearted cos type lettuce can be grown all year round; robust enough for autumn or spring sowing. The thick, juicy, dark green leaves have a distinctive, nutty flavour, a real lettuce-lover’s lettuce.
Originally bred by W Atlee Burpee Company, USA, and introduced in 1884. Our donor found seeds in an allotment shed in the 1990s, left behind by a previous tenant who had grown them for 30 years. Described by Burpee as having “medium-sized compact heads with heavily ruffled leaves and crisp, tender hearts.” A classic, crisphead lettuce, thinnings make delicious extra-early salads. 85 days from seed to harvest (approx.).
A huge, cabbage-headed lettuce that can weigh anything up to 500g. The unusual pink tinge on leaf margins is temperature-dependent, apparent on planting out the young plants in the spring but disappearing as they start to mature. Leaves are large, full and smooth, ideal for adding to a sandwich.
Originally from Stoke, near Rochester in Kent, where the Cheesman family had grown it for 170 years, but this variety probably dates back to before 1840. A compact and trouble-free lettuce, perfect for growing in limited space or in containers. The dark green leaves are crunchy, flavoursome and slightly sweet. Sow to harvest 70 days (approx.)