CHEROKEE TRAIL OF TEARS
When displaced by settlers in 1838 the Cherokee nation set off on an infamous march that became known as the Trail of Tears. They took with them their most treasured possessions including seeds of this bean. Succulent young pods can be eaten raw or cooked, and freeze perfectly. However, when dried and used later in winter dishes, the small black beans really come into their own.
Originally produced in 1864, seedsman H.W. Buckbee described this bean in three words ‘has no equal’. Produces long stringless pods (20-25cm) in clusters over an extended season. Fewer pods are produced than most bean varieties, but the pod size and the flavour of the beans compensate for this. Found to be rust resistant.
Prolific, hardy and resistant to pests and diseases. Produces beautiful cream flowers with a purple tinge, followed by tasty long curved green beans.
Mr. Luxton Sr. was given these bicoloured seeds by Major Cook, a colleague in The Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Albert, France. Major Cook was a keen gardener, trained at Kew Gardens. The beans were probably originally developed in Southampton in about 1900 by experimental horticulturist Alderman Vokes (Major Cook’s grandfather). Produces pretty purple-violet flowers followed by a huge crop of stringless beans with a very fine flavour. Generally used as a shelling bean.
An vigorous and unusual variety from Australia. Purple flowers, stems, leaves and pods that turn green when cooked. More usually eaten as fresh pods or can be used as a dried bean. Pale brown seeds.
This variety was grown in Cooma, South Australia during the mid-1940s. This early, vigorous and easy-to-grow bean produces small mauve-pink flowers followed by stringless green pods that develop ‘tiger stripes’ when mature. Tender and full of flavour when eaten fresh. best at pod stage.
Grown near Bridgwater in Somerset for over 50 years. A vigorous variety, producing tall (1.8 – 4m) plants with lilac flowers and attractive pods heavily mottled with purple. Best used as a dried bean.
Anita Bourne was given these beans by her stepdaughter, a district nurse, who had originally been passed them by a an elderly lady in Cardiff. Lilac flowers and pods which are green splashed with navy blue. Disease resistant. Best for shelling.
DINAH’S CLIMBING BLUE
Originally from France. Dinah Butler was given this bean by her former boss and has grown this variety for many years. A vigorous and productive bean with pink-purple flowers followed by dark purple, stringless purple pencil pods. Tender and tasty even when mature.
Known in England before 1890, this bean is early, reliable and particularly prolific . Compact plants produce lilac flowers followed by green pods which are stringless when young. Excellent dried, when the beans have attractive pink-maroon mottles.
BIRD’S EGG HORTICULTURAL
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. Sweet and tender when picked as young bean pods. When dried the pretty white bean seeds with red speckles have a rich, full flavour. Perfect for soups and casseroles.
Known in France since before 1775. 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. Whole pods 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 very tasty in soups. A reliable and prolific cropper.
This old French variety yields one of the prettiest beans. They are neatly zoned into a cream area and a purple mottled area. Early, vigorous and prolific producing plants up to 2.75m tall. Excellent variety for the north of UK. When young, this bean has a delicious beany flavour and the unusual appearance of the seeds when dried makes attractive soups and casseroles. Best used as a dried bean. Seed ripening assured even in our unpredictable climate.
SARAH’S OLD FASHIONED BLACK
Lisa Antrim was given these beans at Hidden Cove Lodge, Vancouver Island by a lady whose family had grown them for many generations in Seattle, USA. The black seeds grow into attractive, purple-stemmed plants producing green pods with a purple stripe along the strings. Thriving well in the UK climate, they have a long cropping season with some plants producing pods while others are still flowering. Very prolific.
HIDATSA SHIELD FIGURE
Named after the Hidatsa Native American tribe of North Dakota, as the seed coat pattern is said to resemble a warrior bearing a golden shield. Produces white flowers followed by flat, green pods packed with the pretty beans. Can be eaten fresh when very young, but best as a sturdy and prolific drying bean.
A German heritage variety popular there since the early 1800s. Thought to be so named because at the end of the season the leaves wither and expose the pods, making them easy to pick. Growing to around 2.5m in height this white-flowered variety is hardy, resilient, and very productive. Copes well with hot and dry conditions. Young pods are tasty, but at its best as a drying bean.
Produces tall vines (more than 2.5m) with dark green, almost black, foliage. The white seeds are most unusual, as each is marked with a solitary saint-like figure dressed in monk robes. Vigorous and prolific light green pods, the young beans are lovely eaten fresh and they also freeze well, retaining their rich flavour. Can also be used as a dried bean.
This haricot variety dates backs to at least 1820. It is a strong climber and is high-yielding, producing white flowers followed by stringless, flat, pale green pods, shaped like a little knife blade. Beans are tender and tasty when cooked, and delicious shelled and eaten raw (immature seed stage) in salads.
Originally from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. This variety has purple-pink flowers and purple-tinged leaves and stems. Gives a prolific crop of tender, purple pods. Perfect for eating fresh, and when dried has a rich, nutty flavour.
RYDER’S BLUE COCO
From the seed merchant Ryder of St. Albans. Purple flowers are followed by flat, deep purple pods. Best picked young when small. Smooth, succulent and stringless with a sweet and nutty flavour.
Given a first-class certificate by the RHS on introduction. Good cropper covered in straight, long, flat pods from top to bottom. Delicious flavour, the slender pods are best eaten green. Needs warm conditions to give of its best.
A vigorous climber with flat plain green pods. Plump seeds, half maroon, half white. Good drying bean. Freshly shelled immature seeds taste like peas and can be used raw or cooked.
RYDER’S TOP O’ THE POLE
Originating from the seed company Ryder’s of St. Albans just before the firm was sold to another seed company in the 1970s and all the varieties were discontinued. The Ryder’s seed catalogue of 1970 reads ‘Heavy bearer, absolutely stringless and of delicious flavour. May be sliced or cooked whole.’ A very long bean that is not so pencil-shaped as the Blue Lake types.
Grown until at least the 1950s by the gardener at Quenington House. Produces stringless purple pods that are 15-20cm long and sweet in flavour. Good for freezing.
Bought from a market in Madeira in 1995. Produces lots of tasty mottled maroon bean seeds, larger than usual haricot types. Shelling only.
Produces tall plants (2.4m) with dark green leaves, purple flowers and stringless, mottled purple pods, which turn dark green when cooked. Very productive. Also as a drying bean in casseroles. Tan/pink seeds extremely attractive and easy to shell out.