BROWSING through books at a Westward Ho! charity shop, I stumbled across a pristine copy of the 1929 Rose Annual published by the National Rose Society before it was awarded its Royal prefix. And a fascinating read it was, too.
And that takes me neatly on to another piece of horticultural history – a search for two rather elderly seed catalogues with, potentially, a rich reward at the end.
Peter Seabrook, writer, broadcaster and my newspaper equivalent at The Sun, is helping to create four gardens at Chelsea's centenary show next year. Each garden will celebrate a different era of the centenary, so Peter contacted plant and seed firm Thompson & Morgan to request copies of its seed catalogues from 1913, 1938 and 1963 so he could choose seed varieties available at each quarter-century milestone.
T & M's reader offer manager Miles Turner was dispatched to the company archives and located 1938 and 1963 quickly but, shock and horror, the booklet for 1913 was missing. And to rub salt in the wound so was that for 1914.
The firm has now launched a search for the lost years and is offering a reward of £1,000 of T & M vouchers for anyone filling the gap in the records.
Now it's up to greenfingered grandpas or great-grandpas to raid attics, sheds, floorboards and cellars and even to search second-hand bookshops for those elusive copies.
Given that T & M are based 250 miles away in Ipswich, so it may prove an improbable hunt for anyone in North Devon. But you never know.
Call T & M on 01473 695227 or visit www.thompson-morgan. com if your search is successful.