Quilting with Flowers – Discovering the Colorful Quilt Gardens in Elkhart, Indiana

Discover the Quilt Gardens in the heart of Amish country in Elkhart county Indiana as you follow the Heritage Trail to see gardens designed like quilt blocks.

one of the Ellkhart Indiana quilt garden

Last Updated on 12/06/21 by Rose Palmer

I’ve seen quilts displayed on beds and hanging on museum walls. I’ve also seen quilt designs painted on barns and on the sides of buildings. But one of the most unusual quilt displays I’ve seen has to be the Quilt Gardens in Elkhart, Indiana. More than one million blooms make up seventeen large quilt designs that are on display each year from May 30 to Sept. 15.

I visited Elkhart on a Midwest road trip. It was my next stop after exploring the artistic side of Indianapolis.

Finding the Elkhart, Indiana Quilt Gardens

The Quilt Gardens and Quilt Murals on the Heritage Trail in Elkhart County, Indiana connects six quaint villages and the surrounding rural landscape on a scenic driving loop through Indiana’s Amish country. Each year, different quilt block designs are interpreted using a variety of annuals as the color palette.

My Quilt Gardens journey started at the Elkhart County Visitor’s Center where a variety of fabric quilts made by locals are on display. The signature Jinny Beyer quilt that hangs inside was designed with a unique color scheme and is called “Aurora-Elkhart Special Edition”. This striking design is also replicated as a quilt mural that hangs on the outside of the visitor’s center building.

Visitor’s center mural

The visitors center is also a good place to pick up information about activities, lodgings and restaurants in each of the six communities along the Heritage Trail. Be sure to also pick up the Quilt Gardens Map and a free Heritage Trail Audio CD which provides a variety of interesting historical tidbits abut the sights along the way.

The Quilt Gardens Map shows the general locations of the quilt gardens and quilt murals and gives the name and address of the business where each is located. The map also highlights the heritage trail route that connects each of the communities. To get to each garden and mural site, I found it easiest to just enter the address or business name into Google Maps and then follow those directions. The Heritage Trail is also well marked with a distinctive sign.

Driving from quilt garden to quilt garden became a fun scavenger hunt. What would the next flower block look like? On which building was a quilt mural painted? Some of the Quilt Gardens were sponsored by local businesses while others were part of the town’s public spaces. In each case, a large sign described the quilt block and the flowers used to created the color palette.

2018 Quilt Garden at Ruthmore
Quilt Garden at Das Essenhous in Middlebury
2018 Quilt Garden at Das Dutchman Essenhouse in Middlebury
2018 Quilt Garden at the Elkhart County Historical Museum

Along with the 17 Quilt Gardens, the area also shows off 21 different quilt murals. The murals seemed to be a mix of individual blocks and complete quilt designs.

Double wedding ring quilt mural at Das Dutchman Essenhouse
The quilt mural at Bonneyvill Mill Park features an applique and trapunto design

Along the way, I passed bucolic pastoral scenery that would have been at home in a Norman Rockwell illustration.  Detouring off the main routes and driving along some of the smaller country byways, I frequently passed the iconic Amish horse and buggies. I also indulged in some of the local Amish delicacies at the Dutch Country Market in Middlebury, and enjoyed a slice of home made pie from the bakery at Das Dutchman Essenhouse (maybe not the healthiest snack, but certainly yummy).

One f the scenic farms in Elkhart County

My trip to through this region was in mid September, so some of the annuals were no longer at their prime, but it was still worth the visit. I only had one afternoon to discover the Quilt Gardens in Elkhart County, Indiana which was not nearly enough time. I found about one third of the Quilt Gardens and murals but really did not have a lot of time to explore the area sights or the quaint looking towns. Next time I need to stay the weekend and experience all that this Heritage Trail has to offer. And since the Quilt Gardens are different every year, each visit will be a totally new experience.

You can find the most recent information about the Elkhart County Quilt Gardens at  https://www.amishcountry.org/things-to-do/quilt-gardens/

To read about some of my other quilting related experiences, please check out my Quilting Experiences page.

Thanks for visiting.



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