My tiny kitchen garden includes beans every year, even though they are not my favorite crop. I plant them for two reasons: they put a lot of nitrogen back into the soil and they have very pretty flowers.
During the last few years I stayed with the purple varieties, whose colorful pods are almost as attractive as their flowers and whose taste is very pleasant, as beans go, but this year I decided to give the old Painted Lady another try.
I don't think you can find a bean with prettier seeds and flowers than these, except maybe Fava, which is already on the list of new plants to try next year.
Beans love cool weather; they bloom well until the beginning of summer, when they take a break and pick up again in September. During good years they can put up significant production in the short time left until the end of the season, and this seems to be a good year.
I decided not to pick them green, since they are so much better dry, and this tends to dampen their enthusiasm a little bit: the plants prioritize ripening of their seed over blooming.
The best way to describe the September garden is a charming mess. The summer plants don't know whether it makes sense for them to keep going, and when they do bloom they do so in bursts and spurts that have a jarring effect on the fall landscape, which is of a completely different breed.
Meanwhile the fruits of the spring flowers are starting to ripen, adding touches of brown, red and orange to the messy texture, and suddenly everything in the plant world seems to decide there is no reason to maintain hierarchy and order anymore. By the end of the first month of fall the garden is pure chaos.
There is no telling what is what in the jumbled mess: dried up seedpods compete with exuberant stonecrop mopheads and unripened grass plumes, the pendulous hostas slowly turn to sticks and above the clutter the catmints rule supreme, with their diminutive but very persistent flowers.
This is usually the time when I too abandon the struggle, why fight the garden's messy streak so late in the season? Besides, this year the rain provided additional excuses for not keeping the flower beds neat and tidy.
Here comes the rain again. So much rain.