When I heard about the Quilt Gardens tour in Northern Indiana, and saw pictures of some of the gardens, I knew I had to take the self-guided driving tour. I was not disappointed. The quilt gardens are just as pretty as the pictures I had seen. Moreover, it was fun to follow the map provided by the Elkhart Country Convention & Visitors Bureau to find each of the gardens along the world’s only quilt gardens tour.
Editor’s note: 2022 marks the 15th anniversary of the Quilt Gardens. To celebrate, quilt gardens are paired with Seward Johnson bronze sculptures. Some of the sculptures portray everyday life. Others represent iconic paintings in 3D form. We’re adding a few photos of this year’s gardens and sculptures to this article, which was originally published in 2016.
What are Quilt Gardens?
Quilt gardens are exactly what they sound like, flowers planted to closely resemble quilt patterns. Participants in the program must meet strict requirements. Some of the requirements are:
- Only annual flowers can be used because they must be in bloom the entire season, from the end of May through the end of September.
- Quilt patterns, colors and plants must be approved by a committee.
- Garden must be planted in an area that has free access for visitors.
- Gardens must be on an incline to make it easier to view and take pictures.
- Gardens must be maintained regularly, kept free of weeds.
Following the Quilt Gardens trail
The trail of eighteen quilt gardens plus fifteen quilt murals painted on buildings (the number may fluctuate each year) mostly follows the area’s Heritage Trail driving tour. Therefore, you can follow the quilt trail and also visit other attractions throughout seven communities in Elkhart and LaGrange Counties, the heart of Indiana’s Amish country.
However, since I wanted to be sure to see all of the quilt gardens, we decided to devote one day strictly to the gardens. We followed the map, which you can download from the AmishCountry.org website. You can also pick up a map in area visitor centers and at many of the quilt garden sites.
The maps are coded with garden and mural sites, making it easy to locate participating organizations. At a few of the larger locations like Concord Mall and the Elkhart County Courthouse, it took us a few minutes to actually find the garden itself, but hunting for them was part of the fun.
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Each quilt garden includes a sign with information about the quilt square and the sponsoring organization.
2022 Quilt Gardens and Seward Johnson Sculptures
“Monet, Our Visiting Artist” at Wellfield Botanic Gardens
If you go
The Quilt Gardens tour includes the Elkhart County communities of Elkhart, Bristol, Middlebury, Goshen, Nappanee and Wakarusa, as well as Shipshewana in neighboring LaGrange County. We spent a full day on the Quilt Garden Tour, but that included time for lunch and taking pictures. Another option is to split the Quilt Garden Tour into multiple days and spend time at other are attractions also. Visit the AmishCountry.org website for further Quilt Gardens details.
Disclosures: My visit to Elkhart County was hosted by the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
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