By Diane Dhein, guest blogger
Thanks, Nancy, for letting me blog about my experiences at the Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail in Indiana.
I was intrigued and inspired to see the Quilt Gardens when I read about them in the 2500 Series Nancy’s Corner, featuring Sonya Nash. Sonya told about the beautiful patchwork quilts made, not from fabric, but from thousands of glorious blooms! Every year from May 30 to October 1 these gardens come to life with the help of many volunteers who plant and care for over 100,000 blooms. I had to see this for myself! Fortunately, my husband loves to garden, so it wasn’t hard to convince him to take a short vacation to see these lovely flower gardens.
Our first stop was at the Visitor’s Center in Elkhart.
There are gorgeous fabric quilts on display in the visitor’s center, and you can pick up a ton of brochures about the seven welcoming communities that feature a quilt garden(s). I asked for permission to take a few photos, and I just have to show you my favorite.
In addition to the quilt garden information, pick up a Heritage Trail CD. You’ll not only enjoy a scavenger hunt for all the quilt gardens, but you can also take a historical journey as narrated on the CD. You’ll wind and weave through the seven small villages in a clockwise tour around the Heritage Trail. The Quilt Gardens are all marked on the map.
While in Elkhart we had a frothy lemon phosphate at Sweet Creams Soda Shop and we viewed the quilt garden in Central Park. It was a heart pattern…so fitting since Elkhart was named for an Elk’s heart.
Plus we saw Grandmother’s Fan at the historical Museum.
The weather definitely affects these quilts—as evidenced this year with the lack of moisture. In many areas volunteers were seen carting water in huge plastic drums to care for the precious plants.
Our tour took a counter-clockwise direction around the Heritage Trail as our first stop for the evening was the Amish Acres in Nappanee. On the way we stopped at Wakarusa, viewed the Brickswork Quilt Garden
and purchased some Wakarusa maple syrup and some of the World’s Largest Jelly Beans. They sell over 35 ton per year!
We settled in at Amish Acres for the evening to share the heritage of the Amish. There is a legacy of three generations of Amish families who have lived on this historic 80 acre farm. You can experience the lifestyle of the Amish through guided tours, buggy rides, barnyard animals, an all you can eat Thresher’s meal, craft demonstrations, and quaint shops. The Round Barn Repertory Theater is one of the highlights of Amish Acres, and it is the National Home of Plain and Fancy plus five additional Broadway and classic musicals throughout the year.
On day two I found my favorite quilt garden in downtown Nappanee. Piecefully Amish is the name of the quilt at the Nappanee Center.
I especially liked the wooden Amish buggy wheels that added a 3D effect in the center of the garden, and the 5/8 scaled authentic Amish Buggy at the side of the garden. 5,616 plants were used in this amazing showcase. I can only imagine how this quilt garden will blossom to its peak of beauty in the next few weeks!
Create your own Amish style quilt project as seen in Nancy’s TV series with Klaudeen Hansen Amish Quilt Stories.
Up to Goshen to view the gardens at the Old Bag Factory
featuring the quilt Miles Variation,
A local 4-H Group is involved in the Quilt Gardens too. The Purdue Grand Champion Sunflower is the 4-H quilt garden at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds.
We savored the taste of fresh from the oven pretzels, pecan brittle brackle, and some Yoder popcorn in Shipshewana. Then we snapped a few photos of the three featured quilt gardens.
Whew! A long day! Rest came easy at Das Essenhaus in Middlebury, serving family style Amish meals, a fresh bakery shop, gift shops, and a welcomed cozy country inn. One more quilt garden before retiring for the evening, the Pineapple Swirl quilt garden at Das Essenhaus.
After a much-needed rest we were off to see a few more quilt gardens before calling it a weekend. The Trip Around the World at the Dutch Country Market was awesome—another favorite!
Something else you probably won’t find at your own grocery store is a “hitching post” to tie up your horse and buggy, the insides of a beehive, and noodles being made while you watch.
Krider Garden was home to the Hands All Around quilt garden, a mushroom statuary, and the most enjoyable spot for a picnic lunch on a hot day!
As our trip comes to a close I would like to mention one of our most memorable moments… We were invited to join Amish families for homemade ice cream (They made the ice cream on the spot with a steam engine powered ice cream maker.) and samples of cheese at the Kase Haus.
Some of the virtues I’ve noticed the Amish people value are simplicity, humility, hard work, and thriftiness. They rely mostly on each other, and family is of utmost importance. And…they love to quilt—not only with fabric, but with flowers, as well!
Thanks, Diane, for sharing your vacation with us. Your photos of their beautiful gardens are wonderful!
Learn more by watching this short clip from my Nancy’s Corner interview with Sonya Nash from Elkhart County in Indiana. Or watch the full episode of Jackets for Real People, part 2.
Bye for now,