The runner bean was introduced from Mexico to Europe in mid 17th Century and is usually grown as an annual. Originally they were grown in the UK for their decorative qualities. Dwarf beans were usually grown to be stored, so they could be used as additions to soups and stews throughout the winter. They are at their best when fresh from early June to end of September. They are known as scarlet string beans in the United States. As a child I could regularly be found in the vegetable patch under the bean sticks munching crisp beans or, even better, the neighbouring peas from the pods. This must surely be the best way to eat these wonderful vegetables.