Connecticut Wonder

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Deborah Abbott, a Wanigan Associates member, donated her family heirloom to John Withee’s collection in 1977. As a newlywed in the mid-1970s, Deborah Abbott received seeds from her grandfather, Reverend Frank Abbott (1887-1983). Deborah said she grew and saved this variety “because it was from my grandfather and he spoke so wonderfully about it, like it was the best thing since sliced bread.” The story goes that these seeds were a gift from the bees that cross pollinated varieties in Reverend Abbott’s garden in Bolton, Connecticut. He believed that they were a cross between ‘Kentucky Wonder Wax’ and ‘Cranberry Pole’ beans. The seeds from this cross were saved, grown, and were soon found to be a family favorite. After stabilizing the variety, Frank paid tribute to one of the varieties likely parents, ‘Kentucky Wonder Wax,’ and the state they were bred in, naming it ‘Connecticut Wonder’. The exact year these beans were first found is unknown, but is believed to be prior to 1919, when Deborah’s father (and Frank’s son), Freeland Abbott (1919-1971) was born. Although Frank benefited from the aggressive bee pollination that created his favorite bean, he realized that it could also result in the loss of the variety if it was not kept isolated. Deborah expressed her grandfather’s concerns in her 1977 letter to John Withee stating “the bees that pollinate don’t observe garden fence lines or differentiate between varieties.” Frank kept his garden efficient, growing only these vigorously climbing beans in rows of hills with early lettuce planted between them. He said in one letter, “[My wife] would have like [sic] some green beans but did not want to lose the seed of these, so I did not plant any other variety. I named them “Connecticut Wonder Wax Beans” and they are all that, too!”