Art for inspiration in the Library

You know when you have a creative itch that needs scratching, but you’re just not sure where to find an image to interpret?

The natural world is a great place to start and it’s worth seeing how artists have used nature to get their inspiration going.

It’s not just watercolour painters who are represented in the Lindley Library collections: just scanning the bookshelves, textile artists use nature to fire images and ideas, sculptors work in living willow. Gardeners and botanical artists are forever inspired by the landscape, gardens and everything within. Check out some of these titles:

The Art & Embroidery of Jane Hall, by Jane Hall

Jane Hall leaves you feeling breathless with her mastery of fibre. This book is a great way to work out how to get started with an art form and then feel confident to either emulate her or start producing your own body of work.


Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life, by Marta McDowell

Everything Beatrix Potter drew or painted came from her observation of the natural world.

This title is a complete delight and suitable for all ages and many different interests, utterly charming. I can see this title going on my birthday list.


Contemporary Botanical Illustration, by Rosie Martin & Meriel Thurstan

(Produced in conjunction with the Eden Project). The observation required of botanical artists shows through with this excellent title in glorious vivid detail. I find the artistry awesome: I’ve tried botanical illustration, it’s not easy. This is just one example of a huge section of the book collection. Beautiful original artworks are also represented in the art collections at the RHS Lindley Library London, and accessible by appointment.


Living Willow Sculpture, by Jon Warnes

I really want to have a go at this form of sculpture perhaps even go on a course. It’s something you can get really creative with, using your hands plus the added benefits of whatever you make looking good in the garden and carrying on growing to boot!

Imagine sitting in a chair made by you in your garden with a canopy of living willow all around you: positively magical.


The Impressionist Garden, by Derek Fell

I love the scope of this title - making art using the flowers, trees and shrubs in your garden plus beautiful photographs and the art of the Impressionists. I’ve had some useable ideas from my own garden which are not too ambitious and very achievable.

RHS members can borrow all the books mentioned in this blog, along with thousands of other gardening books – visit our online catalogue for details.

Even if you are not an RHS member, the Lindley Libraries are open to everyone and provide access to modern collections of books and journals on gardening and related topics. Our heritage collections of rare books, photographs, art and archives are accessible by appointment.

Discuss this

for the site or to share your experiences on this topic and seek advice from our community of gardeners.

Get involved

We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.