Donated by John Yeoman, formerly of The Village Guild. This 1930s heirloom was originally grown and saved by Alice Whitis in Acorn, Kentucky, USA. It produces vigorous 2-2.5m plants with white flowers and tender pencil pods that are at their best if eaten when young and stringless. Also, a good drying bean.
Thought to have been known in England since 1825, this variety produces sturdy plants with thick stems and attractive flowers followed by beautiful pale green pods heavily speckled with red. Seed Guardian Miss Gotts describes them as a “very robust bean!” Sweet and tender when picked as young beans, but when dried the pretty white beans with red speckles have a rich, full flavour; perfect for soups and stews.
This black seeded French heirloom variety produces compact, bushy plants that display both drought and cold tolerance. Dark lilac flowers are followed by pencil pods: crisp and tasty when eaten whole and as podded green beans. When dried the beans have a lovely nutty flavour, and are particularly good for use in Mexican and Cuban recipes. Sow to harvest 85 days (approx.)
Introduced by Peter Henderson & Company in 1897, possibly as a renaming of an old bean known since the 1850s. Produces pretty lilac flowers and straight, slender, stringless pencil pods, which have a lovely flavour and freeze well. The jet-black seeds are very good for drying. It is attractive, very prolific, yet neat and tidy.
The vigorous vines prolifically produce mottled pods that yield round, speckled seeds. The speckling isn’t truly blue, but it comes close. Early, vigorous and very attractive when in flower and pod so ideal for the ornamental garden. May be eaten fresh, frozen as green beans, or as flageolets when very young, though this really is a classic drying bean.
Known in France since before 1775; however, our donor acquired these seeds from Robinson’s of Lancashire. The violet pods, purple-tinged leaves and lilac flowers of this variety are beautiful. Superb when in full flower, but equally attractive when bearing its masses of pods, which turn green on cooking. The whole pod can be eaten when young and the shelled beans are lovely when lightly steamed or eaten raw in salads. Mature, dried beans store well and are really tasty in soups. A hardy, reliable and prolific cropper.
Our donor was given this bean in 1950 by a gardener from Quenington House, Gloucestershire who said he should look after them as you could not purchase them. They were identified in 1994 by Ron Bateman of Radio Oxford as ‘Blue Queen’. This hardy variety produces purple, stringless pods, 15-20cm in length which turn green when cooked. Sweet and tender when eaten young, they also retain their flavour when frozen.
Originating in the city of Rouen, capital of the Normandy Region in France, in the 1950s this vigorous (1.8-2.4m) ex-commercial variety looks beautiful grown on a wigwam support with its pairs of delicate white flowers and large green leaves. The long green pods have a slight red stripe and are tender and flavoursome when young. When mature the podded beans are delicious.
Another variety donated by John Yeoman this white flowered American heirloom grows to around 2m in height and is a prolific producer of curved, flattish green pods. Later than other French bean varieties and perfect for use dried. Let us know what you think of the flavour.
This bean originated, as its name suggests, in Canada. It was served to a visiting family who were so impressed by its tenderness and flavour that they asked about its origins and were taken to see an old man who gave them some of the beans. Our donor describes them as having “a mild runner bean flavour but completely stringless and with a positively creamy texture”. It is a late variety producing attractive white flowers tinged with pale lilac, followed by flat, green pods on vigorous (2-3m) vines. The beans themselves are beautiful, light buff with olive green swirls.