Long before I ever visited England or even dreamed I'd go there I was given a book entitled The Country Garden of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden which was first published in the 1970's and was my first introduction to water colors and a nature diary. It made me want to see England and to paint, though that didn't happen for a while.
Then traveling in England I discovered the wonderful Victorian artist Helen Allingham. Her beautiful watercolor paintings of rural England, the cottages and the people living there were so wonderful that I knew I had to try and paint some of them. Though not very successful it only made me admire her paintings even more. Found in a used bookshop on one of our trips to England was a copy of The Happy England of Helen Allingham by Marcus B. Huish and The Cottage Homes of England by Stewart Dick with illustrations by Helen. I return to these books again and again for inspiration.
A modern book of the water color paintings that I bought in Moreton-in-the-Marsh a few years ago is Lesley Holmes A Cotswold Sketchbook. We love the Cotswolds and always visit the art galleries and shops in each of the villages. I'd seen this book in several of them and knew I had to have it. I love her style of painting and have visited most of the places she has painted. Another thing I like about her is that she has had no formal training and is entirely self-taught! That gives me hope.
Three books that have inspired me about English gardening are "The Medieval Garden" by Sylvia Landsberg, English Herb Gardens with an introduction by Rosemary Verey, and best of all The Morville Hours by Katherine Swift the story of how Katherine Swift arrived at the Dower House at Morville in Somerset in the 1980's to create a garden. The book is divided into the hours of the Divine Office, Lauds, Prime,Terce, etc, and is the best garden book I've ever read, in fact after seeing it again it will have to go into my "to be read" pile of books.
I need to thank Rowan for reminding me of these books!