I didn't make it to the Chelsea Flower Show this year, too busy in the office, and the drinks do that the RHS invited me to clashed with my 20th wedding anniversary - so better judgement kicked in, and I gave it a miss this year.
A three weeks earlier I was out visiting some gardens and nurseries near Bath and I had the good fortune to call in for some delphiniums at Blackmore and Langdon's. I had just the spot in my herbaceous border for a few more delphiniums and I knew exactly where to go - Can you can never have too many delphiniums in your garden?.
Blackmore and Langdon's is a real treat to look round their polly tunnels - it is not fancy; a working nursery, but you can tell that this is a truely specialist grower. Rows and rows of young plants potted up.
I selected four nice big ones and got chatting to one of the chaps who was on watering duty.
He told me that they were really worried about their Chelsea exhibit this year because of the really cold spring - he reckoned that they were at least three weeks behind, even with blasting their plants with heat and light to try and bring them on.
As I was settling up at the till I happened to spy a Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal certificate sitting on top of their little coffee machine - well where else are you going to put it? especially when all the walls are covered in them. Blackmore and Langdon have been showing at Chelsea ever since the very first show in 1913 - they have never missed one (probably doesn't clash with their wedding anniversary?!).
The grandsons of the original Langdon family showed me piles and piles of Gold Medal certificates going back decades. They said that they used to get actual gold medals and old Mr Langdon used to just toss them into the bottom drawer of his desk each year and forget about them - until someone realised that they should be kept somewhere safer - so they invested in a safe.
After a few more years of gold medals sadly the nursery was burgled and the safe was nicked and found dumped and empty of their precious medals. They reckon all the medals were melted down for scrap - all bar a few that old Mr Langdon had again tossed into his bottom drawer because he couldn't be bothered to use the safe - so those are the only medals they have left.
I saw in the results from this year's Chelsea Flower Show and they did not win gold this year, just a silver - (just a silver!?) perhaps the cold spring put pay to their gold medal this year after all.
But all was not lost - Blackmore and Langdon were presented with the RHS President's Award which sounds even more special than a Gold Medal.
Well done Blackmore and Langdon!
If you are in the Bath area do pay them a visit - it is well worth it - check their website for opening times.