Hyacinth Bean Tales


A word from my beloved Beverley Nichols:

Long experience has taught me that whereas people will take advice about love, and about money, and about nearly all the problems which beset us in life, they will scarcely ever take advice about their gardens.

Oh, Beverley, you so get me.

It occurs to me, however, that I would be well-served to occasionally take a bit of advice from Beloved Husband, he of the annoying tendency to Always Be Right, even when he tiptoes into my territory: The Garden.  Case in point:

“Honey, do you really think it’s a good idea to plant those beans near the potting shed?”

“Yes.” (clearly the man knows nothing of gardening.)

“You don’t think it will get too big?”

“No.” (now growing irritated under this barrage of questioning)

To his credit, he has never uttered the four ugliest words in the English language:

“I told you so.”


You know, if I’m going to be wrong on something,  I might as well be spectacularly so, don’t you agree?

It won’t be long now, and the pods will ripen with next year’s beans, and I can rip this monstrosity off the potting shed. The vine is a lovely one, and I will plant it again next summer using a bit more common sense when I choose its spot. I thought you might want to know more about it,  should you want to grow one yourself.

It’s an annual vine so the first hard frost will kill it, never to return. I harvest the bean pods before that first frost, and let them dry all winter long.


In spring I break open the dried husks, and let the beans continue drying in the house for a bit longer. They look like little Oreo cookies , don’t they?


Once the weather has warmed up in late April/early May and the threat of frost has passed, it’s time to plant. Soak the beans overnight in warm water, and plant them about an inch deep or so in nice fluffy soil in a sunny location. They’ll sprout in a week or two. And then stand back.

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The vine spends a good deal of the summer just humming along growing in size and not producing anything much in the way of blooms.  Even if it never produced flowers, it would be worth growing just for the foliage, I think.


The lovely purple underbelly of the finely veined green leaves

And then the gorgeous blooms appear seemingly overnight, and I remember why I love this vine so:


How would the copywriter for the J. Peterman catalog describe this color? Is it magenta….or orchid….or violet….or a bit of them all? Oh, and the hummingbirds! The bees! Camera-shy as they are, trust me that they find this blossom completely irresistible – an opinion I share, of course.

Soon the little bean pods appear, the flowering slows, and the cycle of life begins anew:


Any day now I’ll start harvesting the bean pods to dry. Anyone stateside who might want some? More than happy to share a bit of my garden with you. Just let me know.

And next summer? I think the side porch looks like a fine prospect to receive a vigorous vine, don’t you? Maybe I should go ask BH for his opinion? Nah, I know what I’m doing in the garden!!!


About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. And the odd thought or two.
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55 Responses to Hyacinth Bean Tales

  1. dorannrule says:

    I am so impressed with your gardening skills Barbara! Never mind planting this lovely vine in the wrong place! I think it gives the potting shed a whole lot of character. I would love to try planting the beans too but where oh where? One can dream anyway.


  2. I must have one. I need one. Will it grow in my zone, 5B not yet officially 6?
    It’s beautiful.


  3. Jodi says:

    Such a great post. I have never seen this plant. It is BEAUTIFUL! Even blocking the shed door! I wonder if these would grow in Western PA? Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and story!


  4. Amazing beans. Never seen anything like them. They make scarlet runners look pale. A type of broad bean?

    Would they grow in Spain?!


    • I think they would grow in Spain. I think they might even grow on the surface of the moon. Google has a wealth of information, but my feeling is there are probably much more delicious beans out there and these should be relegated to the status of “ornamental.”


  5. Dianna says:

    I am not familiar with this vine at all, but what a beauty it is!! I would love to try it – hoping the deer don’t like it. But if necessary, I’ll just keep spraying it with deer repellant. If you don’t mind, drop me an email through the contact page on my blog, and I’ll reply with my address. Thanks so much!


  6. joannesisco says:

    I have never heard of this plant either and I’m totally in love with it!!

    I also want to comment on the lovely blue and white bunny on the table beside the beans. I think it’s a bunny – or a lamb. Either way, he’s adorable!!

    Secondly – that’s your SIDE porch?!!! Wow! I’m in love with it too 🙂


    • Joanne, I’ll send you some beans if it’s allowed. Don’t want you to get in trouble with Canadian customs!! Yes, it was Easter time when I plopped those seeds in a bowl in my dining room to keep them from being thrown away during the holiday activities. Not that I store beans in silver bowls!!! Yes, that is the side porch. Above is the old-fashioned sleeping porch which is kind of cool. The porch is my favorite part of this old Barn.


  7. M-R says:

    You are hilarious, Barbara ! 😀
    If ONLY I lived up there, I’d be arranging to have someone go hammer on your door with unreasonable demands for seeds !
    If you can plant beside and train up that pole, it will look wonderful ! – but can you …?


    • Of course I can, dear M-R, and I will somehow. Stay tuned for next year….although if I give the thing free rein, I can only imagine how big it will get. EGAD. I can see the headlines now…. And I would give you all the beans your little heart desired with immense pleasure!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Fun post! Love hyacinth beans and their rambunctious nature. The side porch looks like a fabulous place for them too…



  9. nrhatch says:

    How gorgeous, Barbara. I can see why you keep replanting that plant.

    Two of the most amazing plants we’ve seen here in Florida are Dutchman’s Pipe:

    And Beauty Berries:

    But your beauties are a match for both.


    • Hey, Nancy. That Dutchman’s Pipe is drop dead gorgeous! I would consider adding that here if I can find a suitable spot. I love unusual plants and this one fits that bill dramatically. Beauty berry is one of my favorites and I had one early in my years here. Trouble is, I planted it in an area where it quickly outgrew its spot and then it didn’t survive the transplantation. I love the vibrancy of the berries in contrast with the chartreuse leaves. Aptly named and I mean to add another here soon! Thank you for the reminder and the introduction.


  10. Wonderfully grown vine, Barbara! And a great post! WG


  11. Sandra says:

    I’m very impressed, and it’s a truly beautiful vine. I wish I were home more often to cultivate my garden but it has to fit into my travels – not easy. Those blooms are magnificent – well done.


  12. I think it looks fabulous on the potting shed! Who needs to get in the door anyway? Haven’t read Beverley Nichols gardening books, but I still have ‘The Mountain of Magic’ from my childhood.


    • Helen, I did not know of “The Mountain of Magic.” Nichols’ garden books are a pure delight. The man is Wodehousian in his humor which appeals immensely, but then at the heart of his writing is this deep, abiding love for gardens which softens his bite….just enough. I adore him.


  13. bkpyett says:

    Great post Barbara, I love the vine on the shed, it looks terrific!


  14. I love the idea of storing beans in silver bowls ~ an elegant to start to what I would definitely call orchid-colored flowers. I don’t think that I have ever seen them before. Hummingbirds and bees clearly have good taste.
    p.s. I think the vine looks fabulous on your potting shed!


  15. Parnassus says:

    Hello Barbara, I don’t think that the bean vine on the shed looks that bad, although it might like some more room to range. I just looked these up, and find that Hyacinth beans are poisonous raw, but can be processed into edibility. It still might be wise to go easy on them.


    • Hello Jim! Poisonous, eh? After reading your comment, I googled the beans and am surprised at how many diverse cultures around the world eat them after careful processing, as you note. I always wonder how many people had to be poisoned, in these cases, before they figured out the methods! Well, I’m sticking to Progresso cans of black beans and leaving these deadly Oreos to only my garden walls. I’m wondering if this is why the rabbits and deer avoid the vine….possible toxicity of some kind in the vine too?


  16. Sue Mayo says:

    I did not have good luck with mine last year. When I harvested the beans, I made the mistake of laying them on the glass top table on my deck for no more than a few seconds while I washed my hands in the kitchen and when I went back to get them they were gone. I guess it was a squirrel that took off with them. As you know, they will eat everything in sight. If you send me some seeds, I’ll give it another try.


  17. Eliza Waters says:

    Looks like you have lots of takers on your beans. It is a gorgeous plant, loves the heat but does need room to roam. I’ve grown it a few times, but it didn’t do so well the last time (I had it competing with scarlet runner, alas). Maybe you can put up a few teepees in the garden for them to grow on – you’d have HB Christmas trees by mid-summer! 🙂


  18. Ha! I can see a small “Roger smirk” though 🙂 Besides, darling…I see absolutely no issue here whatsoever. It looks lovely! Unless of course…you need to open that door 😉 I’d love a bean or two if you end up with extra. By the way, your pictures are lovely!


  19. T’was a bit tricky but, yes I finally managed the pesky log-on. The passion flower vine that you are mentioning grows abundantly, and wild here in the midlands of South Carolina…and perhaps beyond. Did we ever walk through the old Hobkirk Hotel ruins area on our way to the Polo field when you visited? That area is covered with their blooms in mid-summer.


  20. reocochran says:

    Gardening is a pastime I used to enjoy but took all the advice I could get! I loved the beauty in the photos of the bean vine, all the steps along the way, then the overwhelming amount of vines did seem like you hubby may have had a point?! Dare I say? Good idea to give them more space, hope this next year will be another great gardening year. I would treasure those gorgeous blossoms, can they be cut and put into vases, without their fading fast? Just curious, I am unfamiliar with these particular kind of hyacinth beans!


    • Oh, hubby definitely had a point! I need to give this thing much more room to roam in future! What a great idea to cut these blossoms and bring indoors. I haven’t tried yet but I’m harvesting beans today, so I’ll bring some in and see how they do. Thanks!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • reocochran says:

        I just wondered about the flowers, came back to check to see if they wilted (like morning glories and other delicate flowers) or were sturdy and lovely in a vase… Thanks for thinking this was a great idea! I am sure you are busy… life always does seem to go lightning quick, no matter when we try to relax or not! Oh, I liked your signs post also because of the way you mentioned your things to do list; take dog in, take dog out, repeat…made me smile!


      • They wilted very quickly but I think it was because they were already getting old! I hope to remember next year to see how they do when they are freshly bloomed! Yes, the dog sign!! Story of my life.


  21. fadedvelvet says:

    Barbara~ I’ve been so crazy busy…missed your last few blogs…today was the day to catch up!!! So lovely to read your posts.
    This one was my favorite. I LOVE that vine, the foliage is spectacular even without the flowers. How many did you plant (did I miss that?). Your hubby was wrong – they were perfect!
    So….you are thinking of planting them by your porch…..eek…what if SNAKES hide there then! I’m willing to take the risk – I need some of those beans. Come visit Ohio and bring some BEANS!!!
    Great post!
    Donna~Faded Velvet


    • Donna, this vine is two germinated beans intermingled, can you believe it? Yes, I cannot tell a lie, the thought of snakes (and what an impression this has made on you!!) coiled up in the vine does Freak Me Out just a bit. Send me your address via Instagram DM and I’ll send some out to you. I’m putting together packages as we speak! And, seriously, all summer long I have not seen a single snake; just a bit of skin here and there.


  22. Dorothy S says:

    Do I need to put string up if I want to grow this for a privacy vine at the end of my pitch or is this the kind of vine that will climb on its own like English ivy ?


    • Hi Dorothy, you definitely need a string until it grows up to something where it will attach itself. It’s not like English ivy which has all those little legs. Much more like a morning glory, really.


  23. michael s kaupas says:

    Hi, is the Hyacinth bean harmful to birds or deer?


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