Grown by Mr Brooks in the 1960s, but passed to us by his neighbour, who has grown the beans since 1969. The buff-coloured seeds produce 50-60cm plants and very attractive mauve and lilac flowers followed by slim, flat, purple pods. Best picked when young as pods become a little stringy as they mature. Sow to harvest 70 days (approx.)
Our Leicestershire-based donor acquired these seeds from her neighbour who, in turn, had been given them by a cousin, Mrs Lewis from Suffolk. Mrs Lewis said that this bean could not be bought commercially anymore and believed it to be ‘Purple Pod’, mentioned in a 1979 Percy Thrower book. Grows to 1.8m with purple stems and very dark leaves. Small purple flowers are followed by bright, shiny, flat purple pods which, when young, are delicious steamed. The dried beans have a lovely nutty flavour.
This variety came to us from RHS Harlow Carr. Navy beans were first cultivated to sustain Australian forces during WWII and are the variety used as 'baked beans'. The compact (around 20cm), branching plants have white flowers and short green pods with small round beans. The pods are held free of the ground, reducing slug or rotting problems. Principally a drying bean, but can be eaten as a green bean too.
Colin Parfree obtained this variety from his neighbour, who had in turn been given them by a friend who travelled extensively in China, from where they are thought to have originated. Compact, sturdy plants produce green pods splashed with thin deep violet stripes. An easy care, easy grow bean that could be used in pots for decorative purposes. The young pods are tender and tasty, and the dried beans have excellent flavour.
From the seed collection of Mr Inchley, whose wife donated this variety to us when he, sadly, passed away. Vigorous, hardy vines reach 1.8-2m in height, producing purple flowers followed by large, straight green pods with heavy purple mottling. Seed Guardian Michael Blake says, “Hardy, disease resistant and a good cropper. Bullet proof!”
Originally from Phoenix Seeds, Australia, this variety had been grown in the UK for many years by John Yeoman of The Village Guild, who donated the seeds to us. The white and pale apricot flowers are borne on tall (2.5-3m) plants. Guardian Mrs Jane Durston loves them; she says, “Beautiful flavour, very mild and creamy, can't wait for next year's crop!” Tends to crop later (into September) but we have seen variances in this across the UK, so do let us know how they get on where you live.
This ex-commercial variety was deleted from the National List sometime in 2007, and thankfully passed to us before it was lost forever. Dating back to at least 1972, it was supplied by Thompson & Morgan who describe it in their 1995 catalogue as, “Long, tender, meaty and stringless 6-10 inch pods liberally loaded with unbeatable flavour. Heavy yield, good for freezing.” Our Guardians agree, and also note the strong, tall, vigorous plants so provide some sturdy support!
A neighbour in High Easter, Essex, gave our donor these beans in 1946. Bushy plants (45-50cm) produce creamish-white flowers and an early crop of long, broad, green pods packed full of white beans. Succulent when fresh with excellent flavour as a haricot, but also great dried. Sow to harvest 70 days (approx.)
This bean from Western Ukraine is named after our donor's sister. The light green pods with white seeds are traditionally grown for winter storage as dried beans, however the stringless pods can be eaten fresh when young.
A rarity! It is claimed that these beans can be found only in 'one hollow' in Right Beaver Creek, Knott County, Kentucky. Growing to 1.2-1.5m in height, the pale apricot flowers are followed by flat, green pods which are tender and tasty when young. Let us know what you think of this one.