Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Gold-leaved Scarlet Runner Bean

phaseolus-coccineus-golden-sunshine-640

 

Colorful enough?  With orange-red flowers as well as gold foliage, this scarlet runner bean is exciting the day it sprouts.  Who doesn't love the flowers—but the plain-green foliage of the usual cultivars says "vegetable garden" too strongly for me to include them in ornamental plantings. 

 

'Golden Sunshine' is the solution: the foliage is a show in itself.  And then, when the flowers start—late July for me—the plant's truly a star.  This year I planted it in a large pot near a couple of other foliar luminaries.  In the background, the gigantic leaves of rice-paper plant, Tetrapanax papyrifera.

 

phaseolus-coccineus-golden-sunshine-tetrapaax-640

 

And at the other side, the stripe-leaved stalks of variegated reed, Arundo donax 'Variegata'. 

 

phaseolus-coccineus-golden-sunshine-arundo-640

 

'Golden Sunshine' isn't nearly as vigorous as the green-leaved runner beans, so this Fall I'm going to save the tubers.  (What a productive plant:  Glorious foliage, showy flowers, edible pods when still small and green, edible beans, and edible tubers.)

 

If I can overwinter them, the tubers might provide an earlier and higher-horsepower start-up next Spring.  More is more with this plant:  I don't see how I could ever have too much 'Golden Sunshine'.

 

 

Here's how to grow this easy-as-pie annual:

 

Latin Name

Phaseolus coccineus 'Golden Sunshine'

Common Name

Gold-leaved Scarlet Runner Bean

Family

Fabaceae, the Pea family.

What kind of plant is it?

Perennial tuberous vine, also very successful as an annual.

Hardiness

Zones 9 - 10.

Habit

Twining but also, unusually, just as happy scrambling on the ground. 

Rate of Growth

Fast.

Size in ten years

Most often grown as an annual, where it can grow six to eight feet and more in three months.  Larger as a tender perennial.

Texture

Thick and large foliage says "vegetable garden" in the green-leaved cultivars; the solid-yellow leaves of 'Golden Sunshine' bring it into ornamental gardening.  In my (modest) experience, 'Golden Sunshine' is less dense, so is even more ornamental because surrounding foliage and plants can mix and mingle more easily.

Grown for

the foliage: A solid warm gold. 

 

its flowers: Typical spikes of upright vermillion-red flowers, showy already, are even more prominent with the gold foliage behind them.

 

its ease of growth:  Just push the large seeds about an inch into well-worked soil.  They germinate quickly.

 

its rarity: the green-leaved cultivars of scarlet runner bean are grown widely for both flowers and the beans themselves.  In Europe the vines are thought of more as a vegetable crop, with the flowers a secondary pleasure.  In North America the vines are more often grown for the flowers, with the beans a take-it-or-leave-it bonus.

Flowering season

Summer into Fall. 

Culture

Sun, well-worked rich soil, watering during drought.

How to handle it

Scarlet runner beans couldn't be easier: the large seeds—the beans, duh—are so quick to push down, one by one, about an inch into well-worked soil.  They sprout—every last one of them—in about a week, and are abloom and "a-bean" a few months later.  

 

'Golden Sunshine' is, in my experience, more sensitive than the green-leaves to soil that dries out, in which case it can scorch.  But with good soil and attentive watering during dry spells, it's happiest in full sun.  It will twine up poles or string but also through neighboring shrubs and large perennials.  Unusually for peas and beans, it's just as happy bouncing along the ground. 

 

The orange-red flowers make the vine a natural for red-friendly gardens, where the light-yellow foliage will help brighten up red-palette plantings that have veered too far into burgundy, ox-blood, and black.  A tall tripodded colony in a huge planter could be the focus for an entire garden of just greens, greys, and whites.  On the other hand, I can't think of a worse partner for pinks or even blues:  'Golden Sunshine' blazes with too much color to be planted willy-nilly. 

Downsides

I can't think of a one.

Variants

There are easily a dozen Phaseolus cultivars bred for the vegetable garden.  White-flowered and (sometimes) white-podded cultivars make Phaseolus compatible with pink and pastel schemes; birds aren't as interested in picking off the white flowers either.

Availability

On-line.

Propagation

By seed, as well as by saving the tubers; the plant is so quick and easy by seed, though, that there's little reason to treat it as anything other than an annual even where it's hardy.

Native habitat

Phaseolus coccineus is native to mountainous Central America.

 
 
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