This spring we took the opportunity to put more of our pieces into our test gardens, to pair them with plantings and photograph them in the landscape. It never hurts to run through the unpacking, assembly and installation ourselves for troubleshooting, either.
I have a large backyard for a city neighborhood, but it’s not so big by most standards. Vertical elements are really important to create screening and increase growing area. The Mushroom Trellis (PYL-09) seemed a good choice for adding a decorative element to my boring rectangular raised vegetable bed. I decided to try the scarlet runner bean, Phaseolus coccineous, known for its vigorous growth and bright red blooms, and attractive to pollinator insects and hummingbirds. I figured it would be able to fill in the “umbrella” of the trellis in our short New England growing season.
As the soil in my beds is very loose, I opted to secure the trellis in place with some heavy stones, rather than the stakes that come with it. A few years ago, a heavy gust blew over my pole beans mid-season and that was the end of them! I planted one bean at the base of each vertical pole, so 5 in all. The location is not “full-sun” but gets 5–6 hours, and that proved plenty.
Though we don’t see many hummingbirds in the city, once the brilliant red blossoms arrived, the trellis was constantly abuzz with bumble bees. The beans proved too tough and furry for fresh eating in my opinion, but the blooms kept coming through the middle of September. I will let the fat pods that followed dry, and the kids can harvest the colorful beans inside for soup.
The trellis was fully grown in by midsummer and I could easily have chosen the larger version (PYL-10) with a larger space. Given the drought we had this year, Scarlet Runner Beans – which did not require much water – were a pest-free, heavy yielding, smashing success!
Paula, one of our other gardeners, in Maine, planted Scarlet Runners on the Lattice Arbor after winding it through with lights. She did get hummingbirds!