Art in Perennial Bloom

As cleanup from the April Fool's Day blizzard winds down and temperatures rocket up to the 70s, pale-faced New Englanders spill outdoors to celebrate spring. In-line skaters weave their way around town, while diners linger at outdoor cafes.

But the action isn't only outdoors. At the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, and in many American museums and galleries that have followed its lead, springtime means the return of a festival of art and flowers. For 21 years, the MFA has hosted "Art in Bloom," a three-day exhibit of floral arrangements created by New England garden clubs and some professional designers to interpret artworks scattered throughout the museum. Last week, thousands of visitors roamed the rooms to view the imaginative displays, including not only American and European paintings, but also an Egyptian mummy mask and a Chinese guardian lion from 680 A.D.

Debbie Howieson (left) and Luli MacNaught from the Community Garden Club of Duxbury were given six weeks to study "Marquis de Pastoret," before unveiling their interpretation of Hippolyte Paul Delaroche's grand1821 painting. They chose flowers from the period, including parrot tulip, monk's hood, and lilac, to reflect the work's graceful, billowing lines and rich colors.

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