scarlet runner beans

Scarlet runner beans — talk about a plant that doesn’t lack for good P.R. You can hardly get through a gardening magazine these days without somebody gushing over this heirloom varietal. Fedco, one of my preferred seed sources, claims that Thomas Jefferson grew the beans at Monticello. They might as well have come over on the Mayflower.

So this year I surrendered to the hype and planted them, and so far they’re not exactly an unqualified success. Despite a choice planting location, the vines are really pretty puny. By comparison, Wally’s Romano beans, which are up in an adjacent bed, are twice as lush. It’s pretty much a solid ass-kicking at this stage.

But! We’ve just discovered one upside to scarlet runners: the garish scarlet flowers attract hummingbirds, and we’ve had lots of backyard visitors the last few days. The tiny birds are so enthralling that I just don’t think to run for the camera, and anyway they don’t stick around for long. Still, it’s redemption enough that if the beans are halfway edible, I’ll probably grow them again next year.

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