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Quilt Gardens Catch On In Indiana
This year, from May 30 to October 1, visitors can check out 18 quilt gardens along a 90-mile Heritage Trail through 6 towns in northern Indiana. They’ll also see as many as 21 quilt murals on barns.
    The idea to combine two of the most popular hobbies, gardening and quilting, came out of a brainstorming session with local leaders in 2006, says Sonya Nash at the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau (ECCVB). By June 2007, gardening enthusiasts had created their first gardens.
    “Within 30 days we knew we had a hit,” Nash says.
    Now in its 11th season, the Quilt Gardens have led to new quilting businesses, exhibits, and tours that attract people from all over the world.
    Most of the garden sites and volunteers continue year after year working with the ECCVB, and typically there are 18 to 21 gardens.
    “We provide 70 patterns that they select from, and garden sites must have a slope with a higher back for good viewing,” Nash says.
    The ECCVB pays for the plants. Volunteer groups pay for soil amendments and other expenses and are responsible to weed, water and deadhead flowers to keep the garden attractive for 4 months.
    “We set a minimum of 800 sq. ft. but the largest is more than 3,200 sq. ft. That’s 8,000 plants,” Nash says.
    Because they come in multiple colors and don’t require deadheading, annual begonias are popular with gardeners, but gardens must have at least two flower varieties. Ageratum, dusty miller and marigolds are also popular choices.
    “The flowers peak in July and August, but many people make a pilgrimage every month,” Nash notes.
    The gardens - and murals - have fulfilled their original intention to attract visitors, who discover shops, restaurants and other businesses near the gardens.
    She adds that it’s also pulled local folks together; they have community pride about the unique gardens. More than 200 volunteers are involved.
    “It’s a labor of love. Friendships are formed and it’s a good coming together of neighbors and friends,” says Terry Mark, ECCVB communications director.
    The ECCVB puts together a brochure with a map of the gardens that can be picked up at the bureau as well as area businesses. Check out the ECCVB website to see patterns selected for 2018 and other information about the Heritage Trail and things to do in the area.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 219 Caravan Dr., Elkhart, Ind. 46514 (ph 800 262-8161; www.amishcountry.org; terry@eccvb.org; sonya@eccvb.org).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2