Saturday, August 18, 2012

Scarlet Runner Bean Gazebo

When I was planning the garden this year I decided to put in a gazebo in the center and plant scarlet runner beans all around it. I repainted an old ugly plastic white table and chairs turquoise and put them in the center so I would have a place to sit and enjoy the garden from the middle of everything. It turned out fabulous. Here is the front. The entrance to the garden is just to the left of those zinnia there and leads to the gazebo:

From the back:

I strung twine up and down all around the outside and planted 5 scarlet runner seeds on each of the 3 sides of the gazebo. Cucumbers and nasturtiums were also planted all around with a yellow dwarf dahlia on either side of the entrance. Here you can see the nasturtiums around the gazebo and radiating out into the garden:

Nasturtiums on the right side of the entrance to the gazebo:

And to the left:

The nasturtiums really went crazy and are just huge. Looking out from the gazebo there are more nasturtiums growing at the base of the sunflowers:

They wrap all the way around the gazebo:

Here they are mixed in with the cucumbers and some squash vine that snuck in there at the base of the gazebo:

The runner beans have covered the entire gazebo at this point and are now beginning to wrap themselves around the owl at the top of the gazebo:

The blooms are just beautiful. A bright scarlet red that the hummingbirds love:

Scarlet runner beans originate from the higher elevations of mexico and central america and therefore enjoy cooler climates. They thrive in the Pacific Northwest, but can be grown in warmer climates if provided shade and a lot of water. I was able to grow them successfully in Austin, where I grew them in shade along a fence line. I did need to make sure to keep them watered and they would provide wonderful red blooms that the hummingbirds couldn't get enough of.

The only caveat was that they rarely set beans for me down there and once the temps got over about 95, no amount of watering was keeping these guys alive. They would usually melt in the August heat. But up here they set beans like crazy. The beans can be eaten but make sure they are cooked! The beans are toxic unless thoroughly cooked as they contain trace amounts of lectin Phytohaemagglutinin.

The bean pods on the vines in my garden are green right now, but they will dry out and turn brown as the season wears on. Once they turn brown they will be filled with giant purple and black seeds:

The vines take a little while to get going in the Spring up here - I planted these in early May, but once they take off they can cover 10 or more feet very quickly which makes them excellent for making a bean tee-pee or covering a gazebo. Once they are done for the season, since I grew them on twine, I just cut down the twine and compost the whole enchilada.

Now excuse me while I grab a cup of tea so I can relax in my scarlet runner bean gazebo and watch the hummingbirds fight over the blooms.

1 comment:

scottweberpdx said...

I love that idea...I've always been amazed at those vibrant scarlet unusual for a bean!