The Best Botanical Books!

I have been slowly collecting books for my botanical illustration library and I thought it would be fun to share with you the books that have been highly suggested to me over the past year.  Five of them I have purchased from used books on Amazon and one was given to me by a dear friend from England when she came to visit me in America last summer of 2016.   

A Very Special Gift

The gift book I am speaking of is “The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady” by Edith Holden. It is a facsimile reproduction by Michael Joseph/Webb & Bower of Edith’s diary written during the entire year of 1906 in the British countryside.

I love this book and was so inspired when I read through it that the same friend who so kindly gave it to me and I are currently making our own one year diaries in honor of this lovely book, in the areas that we currently live. My diary is titled, “The Botanical Diary of An Olallian Lady” :). I can’t wait to see what they both look like at the end of this year.  It will be a wonderful year of researching the areas that we live in, and jotting down Poetry and Scripture of our findings. They will include plants, birds and insects of all kinds, and maybe even small stories of our monthly family outings. Very fun and I highly recommend it for you as well!

My next book is called “Botanical Sketchbook” by Mary Ann Scott with Margaret Stevens.

I absolutely love this book!  I cannot tell how many times I have poured over this book literally soaking in every single word, drawing and painting.  It is my favorite as far as botanical illustration books go.  It also is a diary of sorts.  A journal that was kept by Mary Ann Scott while she pressed through the Society of Botanical Artists Diploma Course, sometimes feeling it very difficult and overwhelming, but nevertheless persevering to the very end.  And I’m so glad she did, because she has become a great source of inspiration to me and many other botanical illustrators who want to take the SBA.  The book gives assignments, Mary Ann’s thoughts of what she chose to do for each assignment, the tutor’s comments on her work, and even her grades.  If you have not read this book, I highly recommend you do so. This book is a selected book of reading for each student who enters the SBA Diploma Course.

Another SBA Diploma Course book is “The Art of Botanical Painting” by Margaret Stevens.


I cannot say enough good about this book.  It gives history of botanical illustration and takes you step by step through materials you will need, plant anatomy, drawing, watercolor and colored pencil techniques and so much more.  I often grab this book for information I need on plant anatomy because it is clear and easily understood. This book provides a materials list and the different stages of how to create many beautiful botanical illustrations beginning from a simple line drawing to the finished composition.

A book that earned the Practical Art Book of The Year is “Botanical Illustration Course with the Eden Project” by Rosie Martin and Meriel Thurstan.

Another wonderful book packed with lesson after lesson teaching you how to create beautiful Botanical Illustrations for yourself.  I just received this book and am very excited to sit down and read through it from cover to cover.  I have heard nothing but great reviews about it.

Upon realizing that I would be doing colored pencil work when I take the SBA Diploma Course, I set out to find a book that would give me clear instruction on the subject. I found two wonderful books written by two highly recommended botanical illustrators, but chose to buy one book and take a course with the other. The book I chose is “Botanical Portraits with Colored Pencils” by Ann Swan.

The course I chose to take is by Wendy Hollender, “The Practice of Botanical Drawing”.  I have only just received both and am very excited to read through the book by Ann Swan and complete my course with Wendy Hollender.  I will definitely be writing posts on this class once I begin it.  You can also read my posts regarding all I have learned in preparation for the SBA in a course I am currently finishing up with Dianne Sutherland called “Botanical Illustration Course”.

The last book I would like to highly recommend to you was recommended to me by a dear friend who also loves this book.  It is called, “Botany For The Artist, An Inspirational Guide To Drawing Plants” by Sarah Simblet.

This book has fast become one of my favorites! The illustrations and photography in this book are outstanding and stunning! It is written beautifully and is like having a delicious, well-deserved, chocolate dessert after a hard day’s work of drawing and painting!!  It is simply a must for any botanical library.

The Botanical Palette:...

Well those are all the books I have to mention this time. The next book I hope to obtain at some point is “The Botanical Palette: Colour For The Botanical Painter” by SBA, also used in the Diploma Course.  Mother’s Day is not so far away 

Now I would love to hear from you regarding any books you would highly recommend.  Please do not hesitate to leave a comment below with the full title and why you recommend it, and I will be sure to read through each one and include them in this post.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth,
and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

Job 12:7-10




Thank you to all those who offered more favorite botanical book recommendations - Listed below:

“The Botanical Art Files Composition:  The Design Guide For Botanical Artists” by Rita Parkinson & Dolores Sk-Malloni – Recommended by Magda S.

“Painting Flowers In Watercolor: A Naturalistic Approach” by Coral G. Guest – Recommended by Jane H.

“The Apple Book” by Rosie Sanders – Recommended by Frances W.

“Colours of Nature: Botanical Painting” by Sandrine Maugy – Recommended by Jane H. & Janene W.

“Billy Showell’s Botanical Painting in Watercolour” by Billy Showell – Recommended by Jill B.

‘The Art of Botanical Drawing” by Agathe Ravet-Haevermans – Recommended by Jill B.

“Raymond Booth: An Artist’s Garden”  by Peyton Skipwith and Raymond Booth – Recommended by Nina G.

“The New Sylva: A Discourse of Forest and Orchard Trees For The Twenty-First Century” by Gabriel Hemery & Sarah Simblet – Recommended by Lynn C.

“The Kew Book of Botanical Illustration” by Christabel King – Recommended by Dianne S. & Linda L.

“The Art of Botanical Illustration” by Wilfrid Blunt & William T. Stearn – Recommended by Wendy H.

"Fundamental Graphite Techniques" by Katie Lee - Recommended by Susannah B.

This book can be found on Katie's website for $35 + shipping.  Katie Lee Artist