Ruth Berg “hit a home run” at the Saugus Public Library with her Boston Red Sox book and flower exhibit
By Mark E. Vogler and Laura Eisener
They don’t give out prizes for best exhibit at the annual Books in Bloom show at the Saugus Public Library. But the Saugus Garden Club crowd says Ruth Berg really “hit a home run” with her floral display that matched up a book, a vase of red roses and her outfit of the day with a Boston Red Sox theme.
“When I saw the book, I knew I had to buy it for my exhibit,” said Berg, 91, a longtime member of the Saugus Garden Club who bought the book “For Red Sox Fans Only!” by Rich Wolfe as the centerpiece of her display during the Seventh Annual Books in Bloom show held on April 14 and 15.
Berg’s exhibit was among 35 arrangements made by Saugus Garden Club members, New Friends of Saugus Public Library and members of the public. It’s a popular event, cosponsored by the Saugus Garden Club and the New Friends of the Saugus Public Library, which promotes reading and flowers. Local flower enthusiasts put together floral arrangements that interpret a book’s title, book jacket or theme. Each arrangement contains some fresh plant material (foliage, flower) and a book.
Berg got more creative than most participants get with their exhibits. She decided to dress up like a real Red Sox fan, with a Red Sox sweatshirt, a red baseball hat and even Sox earrings. Part of her floral display included the baseball glove owned by her late husband, Daniel Berg, who passed away 12 years ago. The glove held a dish of red and white colored mints that looked like miniature baseballs. A flower vase encased in a white sock bearing a red Boston “B” held the three red roses.
“The reason I got the three roses – three strikes and you’re out,” Berg said.
This would have been the ninth annual show, but it got canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trader Joe’s donated a generous supply of flowers, although some of the display designers brought their own special blooms. Lorraine Wilton donated the free door prize – a beautiful lantern with a candle and three books. Garden Club members and New Friends members donated an assortment of delicious refreshments for the set-up day of Thursday and both days (Friday-Saturday) the displays were on view to the public.
Many libraries across the country hold some version of a Books In Bloom event, and it has become a much anticipated spring event.
Not all of the participants are Saugus residents. Kathleen Nadeau is a Lynn resident. But she joined the Saugus Garden Club about 15 years ago and has been participating in Books in Bloom since it began.
“It’s easier to get the book and then pick out the flowers to go with it, than it is to have some flowers and go running around to find a book to match the flowers,” Nadeau said.
She began by selecting a special book for her exhibit: “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane” by Lisa See..
“I was looking for a book that had an oriental theme on it because I’m really interested in Japanese flower arrangements,’ she said. “The color of my flowers match the color of the book cover. I love doing the Books In Bloom because it gives me a chance to practice flower arrangements. I did take a few courses for that.”
Donna Manoogian, who is co-president of the Saugus Garden Club with Lorraine DiMilla, prepared a popular display that depicted “The Birdwatchers” by Simon James with a birdhouse, an assortment of spring blooms with evergreen euonymus foliage and some small golden bird figurines.
“I cleared out my garden last night [April 13],” Manoogian said of the daffodils and hyacinths featured in her display.
“Trader Joe’s donates a lot of the flowers that go into the exhibit. This is a really great event that brings our club together. The club is 78 years old. It started back in 1945 and we’re closing in on 70 members,” she said.
Lorraine DiMilla based her exhibit on the book “Sweet Boundless” by Kristen Neitzmann. “I saw the book and loved the way the subtle colors were,” DiMilla said.
“And then when I matched the book with my flowers, I thought ‘it’s small, it’s dainty and it’s simple.’ We don’t have to have something big. Some days you like simple. Other days, you like bright and sunny,” she said.
Here are some other highlights of this year’s Books in Bloom:
- “Joyful,” by Ingrid Fetel Lee, was portrayed by Saugus Garden Club member Priscilla Wall with red ranunculus, orange safflowers, white pompom mums and arborvitae foliage in a fishbowl=shaped vase with colorful marbles.
- “James and the Giant Peach,” by Roald Dahl, was the choice of Anne Vigneaux, and it featured a round topiary form with white- and peach-colored carnations in the Children’s Room.
- Paul Kenworthy’s display featured a model of the H.M.S. Surprise sailing on a sea of statice to illustrate the Patrick O’Brian series of seafaring stories set in the Napoleonic wars.
- Library staff member Lisa LeJine’s selection was “Don’t Call Me a Hurricane” by Ellen Hagan. Her design included shells and starfish, ocean blue vases, and flowers with radial shapes to suggest a swirling hurricane. This is a Young Adult novel in which a high school senior copes with the ravages of a real hurricane, climate change and the storms of life on the Jersey Shore.
- The Children’s Room Book Club of the Saugus Public Library chose the book “Love That Dog” as a team and designed a floral display around this charming book by Sharon Creech in which a young boy learns to gain confidence in writing poetry about his beloved late dog.
- Garden Club member Joyce Rodenhiser’s selection was “Educated” by Tara Westover. She covered her vase to make it resemble the pencil on the book’s cover and included a tiny stack of books and a brief review to explain the story. The main character in this book has no formal education until she reaches high school age, but she makes up for it in many ways and learns a lot about the world.
- Ann Marie Mirasolo, a member of the New Friends of the Saugus Public Library, chose “The Maid” by Nita Prose.Her red carnations and white mums picked up the colors of the book cover perfectly (and incidentally are Saugus High School’s colors), and she included the maid’s trademark duster and a skeleton key to the Regency Grand Hotel that looks just about right for the keyhole on the book’s cover design.