Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 16, 2013

Floral footnotes

Spade and Trowel Club readies Books in Bloom exhibit

By Sonya Vartabedian

---- — Books have always been known to inspire — lifting readers to think, act, perform and even write some more.

But next week, they will give rise to some truly blossoming ideas.

Members of Andover’s Spade and Trowel Garden Club will use the printed word as the catalyst for an array of fresh floral arrangements as they present their annual Books in Bloom exhibit at Memorial Hall Library.

Modeled after Art in Bloom, the annual spring event presented by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Books in Bloom challenges club members to create an arrangement based on the theme, cover design or title of a book or magazine of their choice.

Pretty much anything goes in the annual display — provided that fresh flowers and plant materials make up the bulk of the finished arrangement. Members in the past have tapped children’s books, photo books, spiritual collections as well as classic novels and crime stories for their inspiration.

Nancy Cornell, who has organized the display for the past several years, said the fun rests in thinking outside the box.

“They’re all so different,” she said. “Some are more literal than others. Some are very metaphorical.”

Last year, Cornell opted to interpret “The Book Thief.” The book about a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany had been chosen as Andover’s One Book, One Community program in which residents all join in reading the same work.

“I picked up on the aspects of both the book cover, which was red, white and black colors, and the themes, which were tension, fear and sadness,” Cornell said.

Belva Hopkins was drawn to “Birdsong” last year and delivered an arrangement that featured curling branches representing the rhythm of song and passion of love. She went with “Oliver Twist” for a previous year, and crafted a tall arrangement that supported a large, twisted piece of wood.

This year, Hopkins, who often uses flowers from her own gardens, is turning to a fantasy novel — “The Veil of a Thousand Tears” by Eric Van Lustbader. And Cornell will try her hand at “Rough Guide to Punk” by Al Spicer.

“You want to do something that is not an art book with a vase of flowers on the cover, because then it’s just copying,” Cornell said.

Spade and Trowel Garden Club first launched the non-judged exhibit about 15 years ago as Art in Bloom, which saw members interpreting a sculpture or painting in the library’s collection. The group segued to Books in Bloom about five years.

This year’s installment opens Monday, May 20, with the arrangements primarily displayed in the reference library. Each will be accompanied by the book or magazine that inspired it and a note explaining how the arranger sought to interpret it.

If you want to see the display, though, you have to act fast. Because the fresh flowers and materials won’t last long, the arrangements will only be up for three days — through Wednesday, May 22.

“It’s kind of fun to see what people do,” club member Carol Schrader said.


What: Books in Bloom exhibit

When: Monday through Wednesday, May 20 through 22

Where: Memorial Hall Library, 2 North Main St., Andover

How: For more on the exhibit and Spade and Trowel Garden Club, visit For library hours, visit