Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Variations on a theme of crimson

A comment from Rebsie on the previous post has prompted me to record the colour variations among the Crimson Flowered Broad Beans. The first year I saved my own seed I made sure I only used the beans from the deepest crimson flowered plants, I noticed that the dried beans retained their green colour unlike other broad bean varieties I have grown which have buff/brown seed beans.

Last year there were a couple of white flowered plants among the 50 or so plants. Some of the beans I saved for seed were brown and may have come from these plants (I wasn't specific about which plants I collected seed from) and I decided to plant these beans as well as the small green seed beans. The 'rogue' seeds were probably planted together in the same block of cells – I should have marked which were which, but didn't!

This year I have about 60 plants of Crimson Flowered Broad Beans, most have deep crimson flowers with dark burgundy lower petals, as in the photo above. But there are variations among the plants at one end of the bean patch – which makes me think they are the plants from the 'rogue' seeds.

One plant has flowers which are almost pure white with a black blotch on the lower petal . . .

Four plants have white and black flowers with pink at the base . . .

One plant has beautiful two tone pink flowers with a burgundy blotch on the lower petal . . .

And two plants have these gorgeous flowers, pink with green veins above and a dark pink and black lower petal . . .

This year I've labelled the plants which don't have crimson flowers and will save seeds from the pink flowered plants separately. I am also growing another variety, Bunyards Exhibition (photo on previous post), so I wonder is this will cross with the Crimson Flowered beans?


  1. They are all very pretty.
    I never thought beans were so pretty.
    Take care,
    Alison x

  2. Do you find that the crimson beans set less pods than the 'normal' broad beans? I found that to be the case here in Melbourne Australia. Sue

  3. Aha, so it's not just me! Those are beautiful. I haven't had any white ones so far, just various shades of pink or pink and black.

    Broad beans cross rampantly, so if you're growing Bunyard's and Crimson-Flowered in the same garden they will probably have made some hybrids! The hybrids may not be obvious for the first year or two because the red-flower gene is dominant, and so the hybrids will have normal red flowers for the first year, and start to segregate into reds, pinks and whites in subsequent years.

    My guess is that if we save seed from our pink-flowered plants their offspring will probably segregate into reds and whites rather than staying pink.

    But by growing the reds, pinks and whites all together there will be more hybridising going on, and probably therefore more pinks!

    Anyway, thanks for sharing the pictures.

  4. Gregor Mendel would be proud of you! Is there any difference in the actual beans resulting from these lovely hybrids? Colour? Flavour? Yield? Does a fancy, pretty flower necessarily mean a smaller harvest? The crimson flowered beans you gave me are really brightening our patio. Trouble is, Mr Pebble got a bit heavy handed with the power washer yesterday...

  5. Lavender is my scent memory of my Grandmother; springs in the linen press, and she dowsed in Yardley's!

    Aren't your beans beautiful?

    In my grandiose plan to develop a Potager over the next couple of years, I certainly hope to include some of these forms, which are attractive in their own right, and hopefully equally tasty?

    I wondered, is it possible to purchase your cards in Sterling rather than dollars? There are some I would like to buy. would you drop me an email?

    zoelynch at unknowndomain dot co dot uk

    (I've put it like that to stop bots harvesting it and spamming me, but you will get the jist)

    Zoë :-)

  6. Aaahh! the seeds you gave me have all come into wonderful crimson blooms, except one which is the flower with the pink base and the black spot. I have separated it and will save the seed for next year - interesting stuff, genetics!

  7. Alas! Broad beans are out of my gardening equation.
    But when in London (30+ years ago) I grew a variety of runner bean with a pink flower. It was a tidy plant, amenable to growing in Versailles tubs and besides looking pretty, produced prolifically, though its pods were more like French Dwarf.

  8. Alison - most of the old veg varieties are surprisingly beautiful and suitable for a small back garden.

    Hi Mycameraandme365 - I suppose the yields are slightly down on the mainstream varieties, but because the beans are so tender they make up for it on quality!

    Thank you for that informative comment about hybrids Rebsie – growing heritage varieties leads to all sorts of knowledge! It'll be interesting to see which seeds produce the unusual flower colours next year.

    Hi Silverpebble - I'm sure Mendel kept much better notes of his seeds and their parents than I do!!! But he would be familiar with one variety in the garden - Pea 'Golden Sweet', a variety he grew for his experiments.

    Hi Zoe - good luck with the potager, it's so rewarding having productive garden that looks and smells beautiful too! And thank you for visiting my Etsy shop.

    Hi Matron - this is becoming an inter-blog genetic experiment!

    Hi Dinahmow - pink flowered climbing beans sound so pretty! You may now be able to grow broad beans but I bet you grow some exotic things on your plot!


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