I still have the books my mother bought in her quest for garden knowledge. I’ve bought many more in my adult life as they are a wonderful source of inspiration.
My best friends for the vegetable garden are “how to” books letting me know the onions are ready to harvest when their green tops have toppled over and to pull the garlic when the browning stems are tilting toward the ground. I have books on tending perennials and books on herbs and annuals. They are all an inspiration.
When we are on the road and have the time I like searching out antique and junk stores for old garden tools, often sturdier than what is manufactured today though I have not been able to bring them into the garden, I just like looking at them and thinking about the hands that used them many years ago and the gardens they might have helped create. I also hunt for old terra cotta pots, especially small pots to start seeds in. They don’t retain moisture like plastic, but they look fantastic and you don’t toss them in the landfill when your plants have grown!
Some of the best inspiration comes from visiting gardens open to the public whether personal or private. I have often buy plants or put together color combinations I have seen in someone elses garden. The Garden Conservancy, http://www.gardenconservancy.org, publishes The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Directory, A Guide to Visiting America’s Best Private Gardens.
In the early winter I look forward to the arrival of seed and plant catalogues that I keep for reference and to drive a gardener crazy with want.