Tag Archives: perennial beans

A gardener’s work and prayer.

I’ve been in the garden every day, at least a little, and often a lot. When I come downstairs in the morning and realize that it’s already warm enough that I can slide the glass door open, without thinking about it I slide open the screen door, too, and go out to have a look.

The bluebird parents can be seen flying back and forth to feed the peeping infants. Finches, sparrows, hummingbirds and even the flirty Bewick’s Wren fill the space with their songs. Oh, and crows. It is a new thing the last few years to have crows in my yard. I prefer the old way, and I politely ask them to leave. They leave but they come back.

Often in the morning I will put water in the fountain, and trim a little here or pull a weed there. Most days I seem to spend quite a while picking sweet peas.

The sweet peas have become very intimate with the perennial runner beans. The sweet peas were up on the trellis months earlier, and were covered with flowers when the bean stems emerged at three corners of the planter boxes and started climbing. They mostly twist their stems around the pea vines as they climb, and quickly they have outclimbed the peas.

The pea vines responded in kind, continuing their reach for the sky by holding on to the beans. This relationship has to end, though, because the peas are expiring while the beans are only now putting out a few flowers. So, the last couple of days when I pick the flowers, I’m also going to a lot of trouble to break up this love affair without breaking the bean stems. Let’s hope I can plan better and not let this situation develop next spring.

When the sun gets too high and I start to droop, I go indoors and do housework. Or read poems. I’ve been bingeing on them in the last week, and hope to share my favorites here eventually. Maybe in the fall when I have finished my Big Sort, the organizing of all my Stuff: rooms, closets, cabinets, drawers and belongings to throw, give or put away. I hope the Big Sort will be done long before that, but there is the garden…


I mixed up some fish emulsion and fed the lemon tree today. I wanted to give it more iron, too, but I read on the bottle that you should not apply that until late evening. It was time for a break, anyway, so here I am. And here is a poem I read last night, which I hope you like:


O Lord, grant that in some way
it may rain every day,
Say from about midnight until three o’clock
in the morning,
But, You see, it must be gentle and warm
so that it can soak in;
Grant that at the same time it would not rain on
campion, alyssum, helianthus, lavendar, and others which
You in Your infinite wisdom know
are drought-loving plants-
I will write their names on a bit of paper
if you like-
And grant that the sun may shine
the whole day long,
But not everywhere (not, for instance, on the
gentian, plantain lily, and rhododendron)
and not too much;
That there may be plenty of dew and little wind,
enough worms, no lice and snails, or mildew,
and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano
may fall from heaven.

-Karel Matej Capek Chod
(1860 -1927) Czech Republic

Joanna and the Beanstalk

About this time in the last couple of years I was planting seeds of these large pole beans called Painted Lady. It all started one springtime when my friend L. asked me to come to her house and see the puzzling beans that had been growing there after having arrived from she-knew-not-where.

When I saw them, there was new spring growth of runner beans with large leaves and gorgeous flowers, and there were a few pods left on the vines from the previous fall. Inside the pods were large speckled dry beans. I had never seen anything quite like them.

I went home with a few of the beans for seeds, and searched online garden sites for plants that matched the description.

It didn’t take long before I found identifying pictures and information stating that these are the only pole beans with a bi-color flower. They are called Painted Lady after Queen Elizabeth I, who earned that nickname for wearing a lot of makeup. There were sites where one could buy seeds. One woman was selling a packet of five beans for a tidy sum. But I got mine for free! I planted them pretty soon, but it was too late in the season for them to do anything but make a few flowers before they were cut down by the frost.

L. had more beans again that summer, though, and she gave me more, which I planted earlier and more successfully, as you can see by the photos.

Not only did my second planting grow well, but the plants I had started too late the previous year sprouted again–they are perennials! These beans are too good to believe. Who ever heard of a perennial runner bean?

Everything about Painted Ladies is large. The flowers, the leaves, the pods, and the beans. The vines want to grow to the sky. I strung jute twine vertically along the fence, tied loosely at the base of each plant, for them to hang on to as they twisted upwards.

We never solved the mystery of how they got started. The seeds seem a bit large for a bird to drop in, and L.’s neighbors don’t garden. In any case, It felt magic. The fairy-tale seeds grew vigorously and rewarded me with the harvest in the top photo. I wanted to share the bounty and the adventure with my gardening friends, so before I cooked any of my pile I measured a bit more than five beans into packets to give away. I saw too late that I had accidentally named Queen Victoria instead of Queen Elizabeth on the packet. 😦

The beans when cooked have a typically mealy texture, and not a strong flavor. The skins are somewhat chewy. I’ve only used them in soup.

This week the rain or drizzle has been constant, and forcing us to put off planting the garden. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much work there will be when the ground dries out just a bit. But just writing about this happy gift makes me remember the surprises that make me glad to be out there doing my part to be ready for heavenly blessings.