This heirloom has been grown by our donor's family in Bridgnorth, Shropshire for at least 100 years. It was passed to her by her aunt, who still grew a few beans in her garden when she was in her 90s. The scarlet flowers and violet/black seeds may not be unusual; however, many of the short (≈20cm), broad pods are tinged purple, growing darker when mature. They are also stringless when young.
One of our HSL members describes this variety perfectly, “It has the best flavour of any runner bean known to me, superior to modern varieties, but would be useless on the show bench. Seldom reaching 12in in length and is rarely perfectly straight. A cook’s delight but a showing gardener’s disaster.” Growing to more than 2.5m in height, the vigorous plants produce a heavy crop of 20-25cm long pods that are tender, succulent and stringless if picked before seeds cause bumps.
This variety was passed to us at Gardeners' World Live in 2007. When the donor first took on her allotment her father gave her these runner beans. They have been grown in Windsor Edge, Nailsworth, near Stroud in Gloucestershire since the early 1970s, having been passed down from generation to generation. Orange flowers are followed by stringless pods which are produced well into September.
A late, white flowered runner bean that produces very tall plants and a huge crop of long, irregular-shaped pods generously filled with white beans. Does well even in hot, dry conditions. Easy to care for, this variety is particularly productive and the pods are tender and delicious when picked young.
Our donor originally acquired this white-seeded, half-runner variety from the Seed Savers Exchange in the USA. Produces bushy plants with several climbing stems and yellowish-white flowers, followed by short pods packed with plump, white beans that are particularly sweet flavoured if picked young. Sow to harvest 110 days (approx.)
Originally propagated by Mr John Percival Wynn in the early 1900s. John was a head gardener in Berkshire, Checkendon in Oxfordshire and Little Bookham in Surrey. Produces scarlet flowered plants and tasty pods, which are best eaten young.
After learning about HSL membership at a meeting of her local gardening society, our donor passed us some of her runner bean seeds. She has grown them and saved the seeds for more than 50 years without ever knowing their correct name. She has always known them as Lord Mildmay's after the owner of the Shoreham Place, Kent (unfortunately now demolished) where the variety originated.
Our donor began developing this variety from Unwins Enorma back in 1971, and it has been grown in the village of Lubenham, Leicestershire, by himself and several other residents, for more than 25 years. He recommends that the beans are sown direct on 14th May and harvested regularly while the long, green pods are sweet and tender.
Grown by our donor's family since the mid-1950s, this variety is known to come from Salford, a village in the Cotswolds. She told us “They have scarlet flowers, pods that start dull green and turn purple, long and straight, a good cropper.” Please let us know what you think of this variety.
The one and only, truly original pink-flowered runner bean, deleted from the National List in the early 2000s. While not the heaviest cropping or earliest of varieties, 'Sunset' most certainly deserves to be grown for its pink flowers. Add to this the crisp, succulent and stringless pods, then we have a winner! This variety is now commercially available once more but, as we still have some stock, we thought we should share it with you.