COUNCIL gardeners in Darlington are preparing to bid for gold at the country's biggest flower show.

Staff at Darlington Borough Council's nurseries are already planning their display after The Royal Horticultural Society invited the authority to exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show next May.

The display will feature a park scene to reflect the park facilities in Darlington.

It is hoped the team can build on its Chelsea Flower Show silver medal success in the past two years.

This year's display on the The History of Rail featured more than 6,000 plants and consisted of floral models depicting Locomotion No 1 and a high-speed train.

The previous year, Darlington won a silver medal for a display featuring a life-sized steel sculpture of a Chelsea Pensioner seated in a gazebo, surrounded by floral displays representing Second World War medals.

Both entries were sponsored by local organisations. Next year's sponsor has not been confirmed.

Darlington Mayor Councillor Dorothy Long, who is also the council's cabinet member for leisure services, said: "It was a great achievement for Darlington to win a second silver medal at Chelsea, but it would be even better to get the gold."

Darlington has also been chosen as one of five Northumbria in Bloom entries to compete in the national Britain in Bloom competition.

A committee will look at possible involvement with public and private organisations to compete for new awards, including best business premises and the best school entry.