Master Gardener Guidebook to the Quilt Gardens

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Read more about the Quilt Gardens...along the Heritage Trail


About the Author

Loanne Harms Gold 1000 Level Master Gardener

My introduction to gardening was captured on video when I was about 3 years old. My brother, one year younger, and I were carefully pulling every one of my mother’s iris flowers off their stalks. In my family, every time we watched this movie, my father would yell out, “Put those flowers back!”, and he would run the film backwards while we watched the two of us dutifully place each bloom back onto its stem. Thus, it seems, I have been putting flowers back into the ground ever since.

With a small plot beside our home, my husband and I began exploring color, texture and design with flowers. We enjoyed the view and the admiration of our neighbors, as well as the visits by birds and butterflies. When we moved from our small, sandy spot to our almost acre plot of clay, we took our plants and experience with us. It was a steep learning curve as we worked at making the heavy clay receptive to our wishes for flowering plants. Truckloads of local manure and compost were a yearly necessity.

When my husband began a groundskeeping job at a local high school, he took the Master Gardener training class. I was intrigued, but still employed at the time. The summer after I retired, our garden was on the 2010 Master Gardener Garden Tour. I had worked hard that spring preparing our yard, and found the chance to share my work and love of flowers and gardening with close to 500 people invigorating. Soon after, I signed up for the Master Gardener class. With my husband, we have been an active part of the organization, helping plant the Quilt Gardens, teaching about flower growing in the community, and spreading the love of gardening whenever we can.


About the Grower

Corstange Greenhouse, Official Grower Dave, Ilene and Todd Corstange, Owners

In 1971, on property purchased from his grandfather, Dave Corstange built several small greenhouses in Portage, MI. Now in its 44th season, Corstange Greenhouses are operated by the family team of Dave, his wife, Ilene, and their son, Todd. The attributes which set this family of “growers” apart are their commitment to quality, service and customer satisfaction.

The Corstange Greenhouse provides the best quality product possible by allowing their plants to easily grow to their natural size and beauty. This goal is achieved by appropriate selection of containers and soil, careful timing of fertilizer and pesticide application and minimal use of plant growth regulators. This process produces a high quality plant with some residual nutrients and pest resistance, yet no residual growth retardant.

The Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail is an exciting project for this family-owned greenhouse and they look forward to seeing their superior plants add to the beauty of the project.


Corstange Greenhouses 1749 E. Centre Ave. | Portage, MI P:  269.323.1094 |


Friendship Circle – Abshire Park – Goshen Parks Department, Goshen

The Goshen Parks and Recreation Department is excited to be a newcomer to the Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail, as the gardens are a perfect way of expressing art with nature. It speaks to their mission of providing and embracing programs that benefit area residents and which contribute to Goshen's environment, wellness and sense of community.

The garden, located in Abshire Park, is a place where people gather. Donated to the Parks and Recreation Department in 1986, this is the third largest park in the city spanning 75.5 acres. Abshire Park helps to maintain balance in the park system between active and passive recreational opportunities. The park lies adjacent to, and is accessible from the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, a leg of the Maple City Greenway trail network. Abshire Park offers a beautiful trail head and ample parking for the abundance of trail enthusiasts this park attracts. The north end of the park is a managed natural area and includes a prairie restoration, wetlands and traditional forest. Rock Run Creek borders the park to the southwest. The many different landscapes that come together in Abshire Park provide an ideal habitat for animals and birds. Abshire Cabin, a rentable enclosed pavilion, is located on the property.

The park offers tranquility and green space for picnics, a game of catch or to stretch out in the lawn for a rest or to read a book. It is often used as a SAG stop for numerous running, walking or biking events that take place along the adjacent trails.

The original quilt-block pattern name, “Friendship Star,” is representative of the park’s creating and fostering friendships among bicyclists, walkers, runners and the larger community. This sunny spot is a perfect backdrop for the vibrant colors of the Quilt Garden achieved with two plant varieties, begonias and petunias.

The Midnight Madness Petunias, only available in North America, combine large flower size with multiflora flower to make an impressive show of color. The unique deep blue flowers provide a never-ending show that lasts until first frost. You should plant in an area which receives at least six hours of full sun and be sure to plant in soil that drains well, as standing water is a big “no” for petunias. Allow soil to dry down to the touch in between watering and avoid wet foliage going into the night. Petunias are heavy feeders. Apply a granulated, slow-release fertilizer at install and then follow up with a balanced complete liquid feed weekly through the season. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage development of fresh blooms and an occasional cutback of the foliage will help rejuvenate plants. Petunias will survive a light frost (although blooms will often turn brown), but a hard frost will most likely do them in.

Goshen Parks Department 1302 E. Lincoln Ave. | Goshen, IN w: p: 574.534.2901


Whirligig - Central Park, Elkhart

Elkhart’s Central Park is at the center of the Gateway Mile and a great spot for a Quilt Garden. With the RiverWalk at their back, local walkers enjoy stopping throughout the summer to watch the flowers and pattern develop. The Civic Plaza is just above and a handy place to meet up before heading out into the growing Arts & Entertainment district with its many eateries and pubs. The restored majestic Lerner Theatre is just up the block and offers musical and theatrical options to visitors and locals.

Art is all around Central Park. Along Elkhart’s downtown RiverWalk, there’s an impressive marching band sculpture and a jazz saxophonist, a nod to the musical instruments produced here and the annual Jazz Festival which celebrates Elkhart’s rich musical instrument history. Since 1988, jazz legends and fans have gathered each summer for a memorable weekend at the Elkhart Jazz Festival. Combining warm, intimate, small-town hospitality with the excitement of big city jazz, the Elkhart Jazz Festival has become an internationally acclaimed event. Now in its 32nd year, the Elkhart Jazz Festival, June 21-23, offers three days, seven stages, and 100 performances of gathered jazz legends and draws an audience of 20,000 to their community celebration of America’s classic art form – jazz. More information, tickets, and list of performers can be found online at

Central Park’s “Whirligig” compliments the vibrant, active nature of downtown Elkhart and challenges gardeners, new and seasoned, to see possibilities beyond the usual. The plants chosen are traditionally ones used in shaded areas, but with the introduction of new varieties the plants you see here are now able to enjoy the sun. Sun Coleus and Interspecific Impatiens offer unusual color and texture to this artistic rendering.

Interspecific impatiens (Impatiens Hawkeri) is a relative newcomer (2015) to the gardening market. It  boasts plenty of color and excellent garden performance, great branching, low maintenance and fast flowering. These impatiens are floriferous annuals that, unlike earlier impatiens varieties, are resistant to downy mildew, and this new introduction can bounce back in the heat of the summer after a missed watering. Although not particularly tolerant of full sun, it can be acclimated as you can see here.

Sun Coleus (Solenostemon Scutellarioides) has been around only slightly longer (1993) than Interspecific Impatiens. There are a multitude of colors available today, ranging from yellow to red with many combinations. Wasabi Coleus sport large, scalloped leaves that combine a deep burgundy center with chartreuse netting pattern at the edges that hold their color without fading. Redhead Coleus has the truest red of all the varieties, and Vino Coleus' attractive serrated pointy leaves remain deep purple in color with distinctive white edges. Since the flowers are not wanted, many of these premium varieties bloom very late to not at all. These low-maintenance, high-impact plants are perfect for large pot programs and landscaping.

Elkhart Building & Grounds Department Waterfall Drive & Franklin Street Elkhart, IN w: p: 574.295.7275


Marquetry Pinwheel - Coppes Commons, Nappanee

Nappanee’s colorful history comes alive at Coppes Commons. Here, you’ll get a glimpse of the fascinating history of the Coppes Kitchens, once featured in department stores such as Gimbels and Macy’s and installed in prestigious homes including those of Frank Sinatra and President John F. Kennedy. The Coppes factory famous for its Hoosier cabinets has a long and colorful history. In part the growth of Nappanee in its formative years was due to the success of Coppes cabinets. Their prestige in woodcraft is such that Herbert Hoover, then secretary of commerce, conducted a study that found that using a Coppes Hoosier cabinet saved the average American 75 percent of the time and energy spent in the kitchen. Coppes is the only Hoosier cabinet producer that still builds kitchens today.

The Coppes factory’s proximity to the railroad allowed it to ship cabinets across the growing country. The company built more than 2 million of the highly collectible Nappanee Dutch Kitchenettes, shipping a train carload each day. The furniture and kitchen cabinets known as “Hoosiers” were built right here in Nappanee in what is now known as Coppes Commons. The 100,000-square-foot renovated factory enjoys new life and now houses a variety of shops offering locally made handcrafted and freshly baked items and more. An observation deck on the second floor of this historic building offers the best view of the beautiful floral display and is also the best place to get an overhead photo.

The post in the center of “Marquetry Pinwheel” sets in motion the colorful display of flowering colors and textures of this garden. Using pink begonias, yellow melopodium, blue ageratum and the silver foliage of dusty miller, this is a garden of distinction and beauty. The plants were also chosen for their heat tolerance and ease of care. A little pinching here and there should take care of most of them.

When it comes to gardening, you don't get much easier than ageratum! When planting, include a granular slow-release fertilizer to help keep the plant going through the season. It’s also strongly recommended that one apply a complete balance liquid fertilizer every other week as well. Ageratum can tolerate some shade but prefers to make a full sun location its home. A disease to watch out for is root rot. This makes it important that it is planted in a place with well-draining soil. Cut back any blooms that begin to fade not only to help in keeping your plants looking tidy, but also to encourage more blooms. Ageratum Hawaii Blue 5.0 is known for its uniform, compact habit and the longevity of its fuzzy, mid-blue flowers. It is heat tolerant and ideal for edging, borders and container gardening. Although easy to care for, ageratum does not tolerate frost at all.

Coppes Commons 401 E Market Street | Nappanee, IN w: p: 574.773.0002


Grandmother’s Cross – Das Dutchman Essenhaus, Middlebury

Since 1971, Das Dutchman Essenhaus is dedicated to providing each guest with a wholesome environment, warm hospitality, outstanding service and consistent quality. What began as a 120-seat family-style restaurant has grown to become Indiana’s largest restaurant with over 1,100 seats. In addition to the flagship of the organization, the campus offers overnight lodging at the charming Inn, shopping opportunities in boutique-style stores, a home-style bakery, live theatre at Heritage Hall and abundant outdoor recreational options. The Essenhaus has been a part of the Quilt Garden project since its inception and states that “creating a large-scale quilt pattern of living flowers is special and unique in our ‘patchwork community’ and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to participate.”

The company’s mission extends to every corner of the grounds, including this lovely floral Quilt Garden covering over 3,100 square feet. As the site of one of the first two test gardens in 2006, the Essenhaus continues to offer their best to the Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail. The pattern they have selected, “Grandmother’s Cross,” is a favorite among the team. Its rich history is brought to life with an explosion of color from petunias, begonias and zinnias. The largest Quilt Garden on the tour with over 3,100 square feet and almost 3,500 plants is set on a grassy hill with plenty of room to roam around or sit awhile in their gazebo. You’re sure to find the perfect spot to take a picture. The memories you make here and take away are sure to be sunny and bright.

Blue is a color that is rather difficult to come by in a garden, but the Easy Wave Blue Petunia holds its own among the reds and yellows. Wave petunias (Petunia x hybrida) are a strain of petunias that spread and trail while staying low to the ground. These vigorous plants were developed by a Japanese company and brought into commerce in the United States by Ball Seed in 1995. Numerous hybrid series, such as Shock Wave, Easy Wave, Tidal Wave and New Wave, were developed from the original.

Easy Wave Petunias are fast-growing plants that bloom freely all season in landscapes and containers without cutting back and tolerate both heat and cooler conditions very well. These flower-filled plants grow a little more mounded than original Wave, with a more controlled spread. Petunia Wave is known for its ability to bloom through the worst summer heat and humidity, but Easy Wave adds another strength to the family: an affinity for blooming even in cool summer conditions!

Wave petunias thrive in full sun and need at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Waves grow best in a light, well-draining potting mix, which is one reason they make excellent plants for a hanging basket or cascading over the side of a container. If you plant them in the ground, you need to amend the soil with plenty of compost to provide good drainage. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not wet, watering twice a day in hot, dry conditions. Fertilize with every other watering, using a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 fertilizer mixed with water at half-strength.


Another new F1 hybrid is the Ambassador Begonia (Semperflorens-cultorum), used here in white. It offers a clean, compact habit that is uniform across all colors. Extensive basal branching translates to excellent outdoor performance and a free flowering habit. Very early to bloom, these plants perform equally well in garden beds, mixed containers and hanging baskets. You’ll find that it continues to bloom in hot, humid conditions, is drought tolerant, rabbit resistant, and low maintenance.

Das Dutchman Essenhaus 240 US 20 | Middlebury, IN w: p: 800.455.9471


Mother’s Delight - Dutch Country Market, Middlebury

In 2005, Norman and Katie Lehman used Katie’s Homemade Noodles to launch Dutch Country Market. As the business has grown, so has the selection of noodles:  four widths, two thicknesses, white and whole wheat and an average of 400 pounds a day. Weekday mornings one can watch them rolling out the noodles. They also have a large selection of other products - jellies, pickles, preserves, salty snacks and another local favorite, Amish peanut butter. Outside, local produce of amazingly high quality can be found in season, as well as locally made lawn furniture.

And there’s honey, another of their specialties. Norman has tended bees for over 20 years and produces 36,000 pounds of honey products a year! The store carries jars of honey in many sizes and varieties, comb honey, honey sticks, bee pollen, beeswax candles and soap, and nine flavors of whipped honey. They also have a working honeybee hive in the store that you can view the bees at work.

But follow the bees outside and you’ll find many of them heading straight for the huge “Mother’s Delight” Quilt Garden full of flowers. You’ll find the bees seem to appreciate the Quilt Gardens just as much as the residents and visitors. The bees and other pollinators can often be seen nestled among each of the 17 Quilt Gardens in the county, and growers like Norman and Katie are careful to avoid harmful pesticides and to use natural fertilizers so the bees stay healthy and productive.

Let me introduce you to, yet another, petunia – Picobella. This F1 hybrid petunia is among the most colorful and popular genera of annual plants for landscape bedding. It has a dwarf habit with petite 1 ½ to 2-inch flowers, making it an exceptional miliflora petunia. Bred specifically for increased plant vigor, it can quickly fill a container or bed. Emphasis has been placed on developing a petunia that will stay neat and tidy all season long. The low mounded, controlled habit of Picobella works well within this intricate quilt design.

The alyssum chosen for this vibrant Quilt Garden is a new variety, Clear Crystal Lavender Shades Sweet Alyssum. This sweet alyssum is blanketed in stunning clusters of fragrant lavender star-shaped flowers with white overtones and purple eyes at the ends of the stems from mid-spring to mid-fall. Its tiny narrow leaves remain grayish green in color throughout the season.

Clear Crystal Lavender Shades Sweet Alyssum is a dense herbaceous annual with a trailing habit of growth, eventually spilling over the edges of hanging baskets and containers. It brings an extremely fine and delicate texture to the garden composition. It will require occasional maintenance and upkeep and is a good choice for attracting bees and butterflies to your yard.

Dutch Country Market 11401 CR 16 | Middlebury, IN w: shopping/dutch-country-market-1/ p: 574.825.3594


The Wild Blue Yonder – Elkhart County Courthouse, Goshen

Goshen is fast becoming a center for cultural and visual arts all revolving around a historic downtown which embraces its past. In an area once inhabited by the Miami and Algonquin tribes, Goshen was established in 1831 and is the Elkhart County seat. Few towns Goshen’s size (just over 30,000 residents) can boast about a thriving downtown cultural arts scene, beautiful historic architecture and intriguing places to eat and shop. The Goshen Historical Society, which plants and maintains the Quilt Garden at the Elkhart County Courthouse, also operates a museum downtown where they exhibit artifacts, documents and images from Goshen’s past. Their goal is to preserve the past for future generations.

Because of its central location, the Courthouse is a good place to park and explore downtown. It is within easy walking distance of a great many unique and locally owned shops and eateries, and the Goshen Historical Museum. Looking at the skyline one can see testament to the good bones of an historic town. The Courthouse building, over 100 years old in the Renaissance Revival style, is stately and the magnificent Neptune Fountain adds to the town’s ambiance.

“The Wild Blue Yonder” is this year’s Quilt Garden selection. It highlights a new flower introduction to Elkhart County’s Quilt Gardens, artemisia. Also known as wormwood, this plant has a long and sometimes notorious past. Thought to be poisonous and cause hallucinations, the plant has been misrepresented. Although it does contain a chemical, thujone, used in spirits, there is no proof of harm unless distilled to high concentrations.

The silver foliage of Silver Bullet Artemisia provides excellent contrast to flowering plants and green foliage in beds, borders and herb gardens and can also be effective in rock gardens. It is a good selection for areas with poor dry soil and is best grown in poor to moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun. Excellent soil drainage is essential for growing this plant well as it does poorly in moist to wet soils where plants are susceptible to root rot. Plant stems tend to lodge in summer, especially if grown in fertile soils and/or part shade. General foliage decline commonly occurs in climates with high summer rainfall and in climates with high summer humidity such as the St. Louis area. If foliage declines or stems flop in summer, plants may be sheared to revitalize. Artemisia seems fancy yet is unfussy.

Elkhart County Courthouse in partnership with the Goshen Chamber of Commerce and the downtown Economic Improvement District of Goshen 101 North Main Street | Goshen, IN w: w: p: 574.533.2102


Harts of Elkhart County 4-H Fair - Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, Goshen

The Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds is a busy place year-round with RV, motorhome and motorcycle rallies, weddings and receptions, plus corporate and community events. But the fairgrounds are never busier than during the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, which takes place July 19 - 27 and is one of the largest in the nation. The Fair Board’s goal is not only to provide a large event but to be one of the best. The Fair takes pride in preserving quality family entertainment, free grandstand shows, positive competitions and terrific fair food.

This garden is a cooperative partnership between four organizations: Purdue University Co-operative Extension Service, Michiana Master Gardeners Association, Elkhart County Extension Homemakers and the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Board. While planting and maintenance are primarily done by the Master

Gardeners, the Extension Homemakers help and have contributed the design. All four organizations help with expenses. Each group brings with it a membership of knowledgeable and generous individuals committed to the mission of the Quilt Gardens project.

The Quilt Gardens at the fairgrounds have varied greatly over the years, but one constant has been their selection of designs with four components that reflect not only what 4-H stands for but also the four groups involved. Further, they always include green to represent life and agriculture. This year’s design is the “Harts of the Elkhart County 4-H Fair” and an original quilt design by Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross and her deceased husband, Mike. The inspiration for the design was the “hart” in the name Elkhart County. If Elkhart is the city with a heart, the same could be said about Elkhart County.

This Quilt Garden location is another that struggles with shade. Although sunny at times, it never receives the minimum six hours of sun that would register it as “sunny.” The choice of begonias, which thrive in this mix of some sun but mostly shade location, has been a good one. A long-time standard in both commercial landscapes and home gardens, begonias, called “wax” because of the shiny surface of their leaves, and “fibrous” for a characteristic of their root systems, bloom all summer if they are watered properly and fed about every three weeks. Varieties have either green leaves (Super Olympia series) or bronze (Senator/Harmony series) and both will take full sun but may need protection from direct noonday sun. The leaves of dark-flowered green-leaf varieties may bronze somewhat in full sun and stay brighter green in shade. This is another garden where wet conditions may be a problem for plants. Begonias like to be moist but will rot if too soggy.

And then there’s parsley. Parsley is not only a sumptuous deep green herb with great texture and easy to care, but it’s also high in vitamin C. It allows one to see, feel and taste while promoting health as part of the health, head, heart and hands pledge of the 4-H program.

Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds & Purdue Co-Operative Extension Service 17746 County Road 34 | Goshen, IN w: | p: 574.533.FAIR | 574.533.0554


Turnstile - Elkhart County Historical Museum, Bristol

Visiting the Elkhart County Historical Museum Quilt Garden site gives one a chance to experience history inside and out. The museum itself was founded in 1968 as a partnership between the Elkhart County Historical Society and the Elkhart County Parks Department, using a building once used as Bristol High School from 1928 to 1966. The Elkhart County Historical Museum is dedicated to preserving and fostering appreciation of the history of Elkhart County and the surrounding region. The museum offers exhibits for all ages. Today it houses 10 permanent exhibits, two additional rooms for special showings, and over 20,000 artifacts of local historical interest.  Explore the past where the beautiful and the useful were never far apart. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and is free, although donations are always appreciated. The Quilt Gardens generate focus and interest in the quilting heritage of the local community, which the museum is especially prepared to further celebrate. The museum has a collection of more than 60 historic quilts and offer many quilting-related programming opportunities.

The museum staff has teamed up with a group of Master Gardeners to prepare (and care for) the “Turnstile” Quilt Garden. The museum staff has enjoyed working with the Michiana Master Gardeners and has appreciated their knowledge and energy on this project. Knowledge is important when flowers are expected to perform at their best in a Quilt Garden year after year. Testing the pH and supplementing/adjusting the soil to create an optimum growing culture requires time and energy but yields great reward.

The “Turnstile” design was chosen for its simplicity. It has been created using over 3,000 begonias and another 1,000 plants of ageratum. Even a simple design requires hours of planning and planting. This year, Quilt Garden site managers could choose whether to plant their flowers in straight lines or alternating to create the designs. Surprisingly placement makes a huge difference in how many plants are needed for a spot, and straight lines seem to need less. The bigger the bed the bigger the difference. In this garden the difference was in the hundreds. It will be interesting to see if and how placement of plants makes a difference in the looks of a garden’s design.

Elkhart County Historical Museum 304 West Vistula Street | Bristol, IN w: p: 574.848.3422



Krider Festival Rose  – Krider World’s Fair Garden, Middlebury

The history and beauty of Krider World’s Fair Garden managed by the Middlebury Parks Department adds to the Quilt Garden experience. Not only are visitors able to see a beautiful Quilt Garden, but they also learn about the Krider Family history and can enjoy the pleasant park and botanical garden atmosphere.  The current garden serves as a historical and botanical icon to the Krider Family and Nursery. It was formed by Vernon Krider in the late 1800s and was known as the largest plant nursery between Cleveland and Chicago. The gardens were originally designed for display in the 1933-1934 Chicago World's Fair. The Krider garden then began as display gardens for the nursery after bringing back many of the structures from the World’s Fair exhibit. The nursery was an important and meaningful business for the town of Middlebury. It once was the largest employer for the local economy and was a major reason the Pumpkinvine railroad was built through Middlebury.

Vernon Krider’s grandson, Rex Krider, has been active restoring the garden’s history with replicas of original garden structures from the 1930s, and propagating the “Festival” thorn-less rose (a 1944 Krider patent and pictured on the center mural as part of this year’s quilt design).  The mural is hand-painted by local artist Linda Pieri. Krider Garden continues the tradition of using patterns that relate to Krider World’s Fair Garden and/or the Middlebury community.

While strolling through the gardens, one can find a multitude of photo ops among the structures. The concrete mushrooms from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair are a great photo spot, as are the windmill, water features and gazebo where one can also sit in the gliders and rest a while.

The Krider Garden is situated in shade and this garden then is done with shade-loving begonias and shade-tolerant parsley. Semperflorens, meaning always flowering, begonias are also known as wax begonias. They are compact, tender, ever-blooming herbaceous perennials normally used as disposable annual bedding plants in temperate and tropical regions. Their roots are fibrous and dense, giving rise to another common name — fibrous begonia. The Eureka Series wax begonias are slightly taller than most other wax begonias and share their propensity for flowering constantly in mild weather. Although some will survive in full sun, most prefer a more shaded location that gets a little sunlight each day. Begonias prefer a rich, slightly moist soil and enriching the soil with humus is beneficial in beds with begonias.

Watering correctly is important in the care of begonias. Soil should remain moist, but not too wet. A well-draining soil or potting mix simplifies this task. Begonias should not be watered in the heat of the day to avoid burning the plants. Water wax begonias at the base to avoid leaf spot and the possibility of fungal diseases. To keep begonias in top form, feed every ten days during the summer with a diluted solution of liquid fertilizer. The most compact and healthy wax begonias result from deadheading and pinching back regularly. Annual begonia plants are also deer resistant, so keep them in mind for trouble spots in the landscape.

Krider World’s Fair Garden 302 West Bristol Avenue (County Road 8) Middlebury, IN w: p: 574.825.1499


Butterfly Symphony - Linton’s Enchanted Gardens, Elkhart

Linton's Enchanted Gardens is Indiana's largest home and garden facility, boasting over 50,000 square feet of indoor shopping and over nine acres of outdoor displays that are sure to spark your imagination. The Garden Cafe at Linton's features fresh and healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as decadent desserts and handcrafted hot and cold drinks. Linton’s Enchanted Gardens began in 1982 as a small landscape design company and has added attractions as they have grown and evolved. Their continuing goal of connecting to the community while showcasing the new and traditional in horticulture drives their business spirit.

Linton's has introduced parakeets to the menagerie of colorful birds at the Enchanted Gardens. A trip around the grounds on the Enchanted Gardens Railroad goes past the Quilt Garden, Lake Linton, the petting zoo, and through the tunnel to see it all. A special stop at the Parakeet Encounter House allows the riders to enter and interact with the vibrant and musical birds. Linton’s prides itself in being a family-friendly destination. Their Quilt Garden is located on the north end of the gift shop and has the advantage of an observation bridge to give guests a better vantage point for snapping the perfect picture.

Linton's has a unique opportunity with their Quilt Garden to partner with the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research. Each year they incorporate the organization's current breast cancer awareness pattern into their quilt garden theme. “Butterfly Flutter” is the 2019 Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer pattern, serving as a symbol of support and solidarity, with colorful butterflies in bright, rainbow tones. Using this graphic pattern from Vera Bradley, Linton’s has created the “Butterfly Symphony” quilt block which echoes the vibrant colors and design represented in the fabric. Linton’s goal is to bring awareness to those past and present who have endured breast cancer's life-altering grip.

Vinca is one of the highlighted plants in this garden. Vinca isn’t new; it has been bred since the 1920s. But cultivars in commercial production up to the early 1990s had many problems, including very weak stems, poor tolerance of wet weather, and susceptibility to many diseases. These older hybrid lines of vinca were bred for flower color, not vigor, and tended to be weak-rooted and much more demanding in their environmental requirements, especially when young. New vinca cultivars on the market are more vigorous, and many of the new series are more specialized to regional growing conditions. Each new series has brought forth new colors to add to the usefulness of this bedding plant.

The bright yellow of the Safari and the deep orange of Janie marigolds adds sunny warmth and texture to the display. Marigolds, native to the New World and sacred flowers of the Aztecs, journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean twice to travel 3,000 miles north of their center of origin. The lengthy journey is a testimony to the rugged durability of marigolds. Today the marigold is one of the most popular annuals grown in North American gardens.

Linton’s Enchanted Gardens 315 County Road 17 | Elkhart, IN w: p: 888.779.9333


Nature’s Paint Palette Applique - Nappanee Center, Nappanee

Nappanee sits at the crossroads of U.S. 6 and S.R. 19, two major highways in the northern sector of Indiana. It’s a community of people that thrives on being a tight knit community. From the construction of the downtown pavilion completed through a community effort that resembled an old-fashioned barn raising, to city employees who strive to provide the best possible government services to its residents and guests, the city lives “community.”

The quarter-block area where the Quilt Garden resides sits on the Heritage Trail and in the backyard of the Nappanee Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber shares space with the Nappanee Center/Heritage Museum and the John Hartman Home, a structure that dates to 1897. “Our site is about as authentic as you can get,” says Nappanee Center Quilt Garden marketing manager Sue Conrad. The Heritage Museum has an impressive collection started by former librarian Evelyn Culp in the Nappanee Public Library but was later moved to this site. Over the years this collection has expanded to include a collection of historic Hoosier cabinets and many other items of interest.

The Nappanee Center Quilt Garden, “Nature’s Paint Palette Applique,” combines a wide variety of plants to create a simple yet distinct design with high contrast of colors, textures and mass. Foliage and flowers combine to offer sheen and style. The deep rich green of the parsley contrasts with the deep red of the Wizard Red Velvet Coleus. The Silver Falls Dichondra adds fantastic silver foliage and performs well as a seasonal groundcover. You’ll find it neatly trimmed here, and as it lays close to the ground, it helps create a 3-D effect with the surrounding flowers rising above it.

Silver Falls Dichondra is native to New Zealand and many parts of Australia, where it is sometimes called kidney weed because of the shape of the leaves. Used extensively as an annual, Silver Falls is great alone or in mixed containers, providing a cool contrast to green foliage and brightly colored flowers. Try it in hanging baskets, tall containers or window boxes as an alternative to licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare minus “Silver Mist”). Use it in window boxes with geraniums for an overflowing accent plant. It combines well with Tidal Wave Petunia, Angel Mist Angelonia or Dragon Wing Red Begonia. Like other silver plants, it goes well with purple, pink or blue flowers and foliage, or for a sophisticated look, plant it with white, pale pink and pale lavender flowers.

Keeping all the Quilt Gardens looking like quilts for an entire summer and beyond requires work. Not only in regular maintenance like watering, weeding and fertilizing, but also with deadheading, pinching and trimming. For you to see the quilt pattern, strong color, defined edges, and consistency in height are essential. Quilt Gardens are a labor of love by the many who work (often as volunteers) to make them perform well and look their best all summer long.

Nappanee Center & Chamber of Commerce 302 West Market Street | Nappanee, IN w: p: 574.773.7812


Reflection - The Old Bag Factory, Goshen

In 1896, J.J. Burns opened the Cosmo Buttermilk Soap Co. in Goshen. The production building, constructed expressly to facilitate Burns’ new business, took up nearly 80,000 square feet of space. Inside, workers manufactured laundry soap, fine bathing soap and toilet paper. In 1910, the plant was renovated and purchased by The Chicago-Detroit Bag Co. A 1924 merger put the building under the control of the Chase Bag Factory and became part of a colossal enterprise. The Goshen plant was one of the largest and most important of the 15 plants owned by the company. The range of bags extended from waterproof burlap sacks to the fine, sheer paper used in Hershey’s Kiss wrappers. The term “bagology” which is painted across the building was coined during this period, meaning “to elevate the production of bags to the level of science.”

In 1984, the Old Bag Factory was restored, and artists and merchants began making this nostalgic building and its surroundings their home. The Old Bag Factory thrives on craft and commerce just as it had in the past. One can watch hand-thrown pottery being processed, or steel structures being welded into place. Jewelry, rolls and artwork are offered in shops throughout the historic building. Now, instead of transporting goods by train, the Old Bag Factory’s artists and merchants can send their crafts away in – what else? – shopping bags.

The Old Bag Factory has chosen to cut away panels of sod to form a permanent template for use each year. This is one way they create a path from which to care for the flowers, but it also requires continual vigilance to keep the openings neatly edged and to size. The Quilt Garden utilizes the colorful blooms of both begonias and petunias, and the bright silver foliage of dusty miller. Much like the Old Bag Factory, many of these plants have a fascinating history.

Dusty miller is a small plant in the family Asteraceae and originates from the island of Capraia in Italy, where it is called fiordaliso delle scogliere, “cornflower cliffs.”  It is a good example of why common names for plants sometimes cause confusion for gardeners. At least eight plants share the common name "Dusty Miller.” If you’re looking for a tough, attractive bedding plant, look no further than dusty miller or rather (Senecio cineraria).

Dusty miller is valued for its grayish-green leaves. The leaves are covered with tiny white or gray hairs, which give the plant a soft, wooly look. The foliage has a lacy texture with lance-like leaves. When grown as an annual, dusty miller rarely grows taller than 12 to 15 inches. In mild regions, the plant is a subshrub perennial and grows to over two feet high. Beginning the second summer, the plant produces bright yellow flowers, which makes sense considering that it is related to sunflowers. In northern regions, dusty miller is treated as an annual. Planted in the spring after the last frost, it offers interest and color throughout the season and often survives the first frosts in the fall.

Dusty miller grows best in full sun and might become spindly in shade. It prefers rich, slightly moist soil, but it tolerates poor soils and drought, as well. One of the main reasons that dusty miller has stuck around for so long is because it is extremely easy to grow. This plant seems to thrive in almost any situation and is great both in the ground and in a container. With few insect and disease problems, they have the added benefit of not being attractive to deer or other wildlife.

A tried and true classic annual, petunias are a great addition to this Quilt Garden or any landscape. Bright and showy, they are a colorful, sun-loving plant. TriTunia Blue series are unmatched for uniformity, flower size, plant habit and flowering time. A grandiflora with dark veins and fringed edges, TriTunia Blue will bloom steadily throughout the summer requiring an occasional feeding as well as pruning and deadheading.

Old Bag Factory 1100 North Chicago Avenue Goshen, IN w: p: 574.534.2502


Hometown Pride - Pumpkinvine’s New Life Consignments, Middlebury

Pumpkinvine’s New Life Consignments sells gently used and some new clothes as well as arts and crafts made locally. Some of these items include Amish woodworking, cloth dolls, jewelry, painting and photography of local landmarks and beautiful scenery. The business started in December 2018 with plans to create a Quilt Garden. The addition of this Quilt Garden gives Middlebury a total of four Quilt Gardens and four Quilt Murals. Be sure to see them all!

Located along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail and on the Heritage Trail, Pumpkinvine’s New Life Consignments is right in the middle of the action. The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail covers just over 17 miles between Goshen, Middlebury and Shipshewana. The former railroad line between Goshen and Middlebury served as a popular passenger and mail service route at the turn of the 20th century. Because of its numerous curves and turns, the railroad received its “pumpkinvine” nickname. All service on the line ended in 1980, and the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail acquired the corridor in 1993. This premier rails-to-trails offers an incredible scenic landscape with sights from Indiana’s large Amish communities in Middlebury and Shipshewana. The trail itself is well maintained and includes mile markers.

The owners of Pumpkinvine’s New Life Consignment, lifetime residents of Middlebury, chose “Hometown Pride” for obvious reasons, including a son serving in the military. This patriotic-themed garden takes advantage of being new to the Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail. The 18 tons of top soil brought in this spring are fresh with what plants love, micro-organisms, air and nutrients. Red begonias from the Cocktail series will appreciate the drainage offered with uncompacted soil. The Blockbuster vinca will most likely produce huge white flowers. These two will be low-maintenance plants requiring no deadheading or pruning.

Madness Petunias, on the other hand, will require some work to look their best all summer. Cutting back petunia plants is essential to keeping them looking their best. The difference between gorgeous hanging baskets and stringy-looking ones involves appropriate trimming of these plants. It’s easy enough to keep your petunias attractive all summer long if you begin early with maintenance and keep at it through the life of the plant. Whenever your petunia stems are eight inches long or longer, begin the pruning schedule. Each week, you clip three or four stems in half, making the cuts above a node. The petunia plant will then produce two new growing tips just below each cut, and those tips will begin flowering soon.

Pumpkinvine’s New Life Consignment 300 Wayne Street | Middlebury, IN w: p: 574.825.3333


Joseph’s Coat – Ruthmere, Elkhart

The Ruthmere campus is made up of two historic properties that engage visitors with a unique experience of history, art and architecture. Part historic house museum, part world class art collection, part performing arts venue, such is the unique nature of Ruthmere. Ruthmere overlooks the confluence of the St. Joseph and Elkhart rivers, residing at the heart of the Beardsley Historic District Neighborhood, a nationally recognized site on the National Register of Historic Places.

Albert Beardsley, nephew of one of the founding fathers of Elkhart, Dr. Havilah Beardsley, had Ruthmere Mansion built in 1910. The mansion is filled with lavish one-of-a-kind furnishings and stunning works of art. The magnificently restored Beaux Arts-style mansion boasts a fine art collection which includes sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Antoine-Louis Barye and William Ordway Partridge and artworks by renowned artists such as George Peter Alexander Healy, William Morris Hunt and Albert E. Sterner. Art comes in many forms at Ruthmere. The iconic greenhouse and Ruthmere’s gardens provide the perfect bridge for visitors to appreciate both the Ruthmere property and the annual Quilt Garden found just outside of Ruthmere’s perimeter wall.

Set amid this upper-class mansion, with ornate iron fences and sturdy brick walls, you can find this year’s Quilt Garden one of simple elegance. Curators of Ruthmere chose the “Joseph’s Coat” pattern as the design can be found within the mansion in some of the items on display. It is a simple design made memorable by the use of colorful flowers.

The begonias used in this Quilt Garden are all from the Cocktail series of F1 begonias. Some have joked that the flowers look like cocktail meatballs. All in the series have deep bronze leaves and a variety of colored flowers. The names are gin, tequila, vodka, whiskey and rum. Vodka (red) and whiskey (white) are at work here. These tried and true begonias continue to be one of the world's standard bronze-leaved series for mass landscape beds. They are far more weather-resistant than the green-leaved types and more sun and rain-tolerant. Abundant blooms are large, averaging 1-1/4 inches across. It’s a little curious that these alcohol-named plants can’t tolerate too much water.

Ruthmere Museum 302 East Beardsley Avenue | Elkhart, IN w: p: 574.264.0330


Aunt Eliza’s Star - Southgate Crossing, Elkhart

Located just off the U.S. 20 Bypass on the south side of Elkhart, Indiana, the big red barn was built by Amish craftsmen using the old-world tradition of joining mortis and tenon joints with wooden pegs. Construction on this expansive building began in 2006. Longer than a football field, it features hundreds of solid heavy timber beams, columns and braces that are prepared with mortis and tenons that were cut and notched together for the framing of the three-story structure. High clerestory windows provide natural lighting and ventilation for the open interior spaces in the barn. It has three towering cupolas with the center cupola topping out at 84 feet.

Southgate Crossing is committed to preserving this beautiful and unique cultural landmark, one of the largest Amish-built peg and beam barns in the nation, while creating an experienced-based destination, rooted in celebrating the traditional know-how of our agricultural and folk heritage, and dedicated to supporting local artisan producers. The selection of “Aunt Eliza’s Star” fits well with Southgate Crossing’s mission as it provides a simple, yet traditional pattern that celebrates the common-sense know-how of our folk heritage.

In addition, Southgate is a Certified Wildlife Habitat location. In order to be certified as a Wildlife Habitat, the space must do the following: provide food, water, cover, a place to raise young, and be maintained in a way that has a positive effect on the health of the soil, air, water and habitat for native wildlife. With these features in place, it is crucial that the land be cared for thoughtfully and as naturally as possible. Avoiding the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, reducing the area that turf grass occupies, utilizing mulch obtained from sustainable forestry practices, and minimizing water use in order to maintain the integrity of the soil, air, and water in and outside of the habitat will ensure responsible wildlife gardening.

The plants in this Quilt Garden were chosen with nature in mind, marigolds with their bright flowers attract bees and other pollinators, as do alyssum and ageratum. Even coleus with its lack of flowers attracts insects to bright red leaves. Some research indicates that numbers of all flying insects, not just pollinators, have decreased dramatically in the past decades; some say by as much as 70% in the last 30 years. Pesticides can affect more than pests. Adding plants that draw natural pest-eaters and "companion planting" are good strategies to reduce chemical needs, according to organic gardeners. Maintaining healthy soil to keep plants' immune systems strong can also help.

Another way to help the insect world is to choose native plants in a variety of shapes and colors to encourage diversity. Among the native plants, make sure something is blooming each season (spring, summer, and fall). Some bee species are active all year, others only in April and May, still others in July and August, and all need to feed regardless of the date. Adding milkweed to the garden provides food for monarch butterfly caterpillars, but don’t forget nectar sources for the adults, such as flowers that bloom in late summer. Adults get especially hungry in the fall as they head south to their wintering sites in Mexico.

Southgate Crossing 27751 CR 26 | Elkhart, IN w: p: 574.294.2040


Whirlpool – Downtown Wakarusa

Wakarusa is one of those towns where the rush of the big city is left behind and old-fashioned is an honored trait. Centered around the town’s only stoplight, you can find historic buildings featuring tin ceilings, a hardware store open since 1904 with a wall of 1,000 drawers ready to serve you, and a dime store. Wakarusa Dime Store was begun by a German immigrant in 1907 as Wolfberg’s Department Store. Today, Wakarusa Dime Store is home to the Giant Jumbo Jelly Bean, big enough to share. Look for take-homes of Wakarusa maple syrup while downtown. Each spring the town hosts the Maple Syrup Festival honoring the local sweet and the labor-intensive process.

This year’s Quilt Garden continues Wakarusa’s tradition of bold design, which pairs well with the Dancing Leaves mural nearby. In fact, this is a good spot for some great photo-taking, capturing not one, but two display quilts. “Whirlpool,” with its over 3,000 plants, is reason enough to pull out the camera. The bright contrast of flowers, foliage and design lines should give one a chance to get creative.

Creativity abounds with the use of color and flower types in this garden. Marigolds, petunias, dusty miller and salvia make bold statements; all old standards with refined hybrid habits. Salvia Splendens, “Red Hot Sally,” raises its head above the rest begging to tell its story.

Sages (Salvia) have been grown in gardens for a thousand years to make medicine and for use as a culinary spice. The ancient Romans believed sage sharpened the mind and imparted wisdom. In the Mediterranean, North Africa and later in Europe, it was thought to be a symbol of skill, long life and good health.

The many types of salvias are colorful, reliable flowering plants at home in most parts of the country. Members of this clan, which includes the culinary herb, sage, have square stems, flowers whorled around upright spikes, and bright colored blooms in common. Plant taxonomy classifies red salvia plants as Salvia splendens. Despite an official common name of scarlet sage, many people refer to the plants simply as red salvia.

One of the upsides of globalization is that we now have access to a dizzying array of simply stunning salvias. The genus of salvia is the largest in the Lamiaceae (or Mint) Family, and therefore has a wide array of flower color, foliage and growing habits. Salvias are often late season bloomers that can carry color in the garden until first frost. Extremely frost sensitive, red salvia cannot tolerate temperatures below 32°F.

Deadheading isn’t essential but tidies up the look of salvia, encourages branching and keeps some of the seed from sowing. Salvia will self-sow, giving a chance to enlarge a sea of red in your own yard or share plants with friends. Plants are heat and drought tolerant and have minimal disease and insect problems.

Flowers are tubular with a split lower petal. They are a pollinator magnet, drawing bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. It’s fun to watch bees tip the lower petal of the flowers down to take a sip. They are also a low allergen plant, which makes them suitable for sensitive gardeners.

Wakarusa Chamber of Commerce 100 West Waterford Street Wakarusa, IN w: p: 574.862.4344


Crocus Awakens - Wellfield Botanic Gardens, Elkhart

Founded by the Elkhart Rotary in 2005, Wellfield Botanic Gardens’ purpose is integral to both the quality of life and authenticity of place. Wellfield’s mission is to promote the inseparable relationship between water, plants and animals, inspire creativity and education while celebrating nature, foster stewardship for the natural world, and bring people together to build community. Thirty-six acres in size, half of which are water, Wellfield resides on a historical piece of property originally known as the North Main Street Well Field. The property has been a source of hydraulic energy and drinking water for the city of Elkhart since the mid-1800s and continues to provide most of the drinking water for the community.

Wellfield’s Quilt Garden is located just outside its gates, where it is showcased in a new stone-lined bed. For a small admission fee, step inside and get in touch with nature as Wellfield leads visitors along winding stone paths dotted with charming pump houses and whimsical sculptures. Vantage points from walkways and bridges offer panoramic views while shaded benches invite quiet reflection. As a botanic garden, every day is different throughout the seasons and Wellfield’s diverse and interesting garden spaces and variety of special events make it a special place to visit. Always growing and evolving, in 2018, Wellfield opened a new, one-acre Children’s Garden, as well as a new Event Plaza venue, ideal for special events including receptions, cocktail parties and festivals. The Visitor’s Center with its wheelchair accessible restroom and gift shop is open for all to visit.

Wellfield Botanic Gardens is a natural fit to feature a living Quilt Garden as it is a chance to showcase horticultural experience and provide both a practical and aesthetic addition to the Heritage Trail. Be prepared to experience something different in this Quilt Garden as you’ll find useful/non-traditional plants in addition to those that look pretty to the eye. You’re invited to sit nearby on one of their benches or stand on the viewing platform to see the Quilt Garden.

You may smell this garden before you see it as there is a large planting of Corsican Mint, in the design. Corsican Mint (Mentha requienii) is a spreading, ground-hugging plant with petite, round leaves that emit a powerful, minty aroma when bruised. Also known as creeping mint, Corsican Mint plants spread by narrow stems that take root as they grow. They tolerate full or partial sunlight and nearly any type of moist, well-drained soil is suitable. It can be somewhat finicky, especially when it comes to irrigation. These plants don’t tolerate drought, which means the soil should be kept consistently moist but not soggy.

In addition to its uses as a groundcover in the garden, Corsican Mint is a valuable culinary plant and great for containers. Snip the leaves to flavor hot and cold drinks, ice cream and baked goods. Keep in mind that, like most mint plants, Corsican Mint self-seeds readily and can be somewhat aggressive.

However, the highlight of this design is the Pentas. The Penta Lipstick series produces green foliage and adorns itself with bright pink multi-flowering blooms. The dense upright growth habit and colorful blooms makes this a great choice for landscape, baskets and containers. Its blooms are atop its lovely mounding foliage that matures to 12-14” tall and about 24” wide. It blooms all through early summer and fall. The Penta is useful here because it reblooms fast creating a consistent color show all season. It is also easy to care for with high durability, heat tolerance, and its mounding growth habit. The Penta thrives in heat and humidity. Plant in full sun when temperatures are warm and when first planted, water more frequently (once a week or more) to avoid wilting.

Wellfield Botanic Gardens 1011 North Main Street | Elkhart, IN w: p: 574.266.2006