GOSHEN — The Quilt Gardens return to Elkhart County for their 12th year at the end of this month.

Seventeen quilt-inspired gardens will be featured this year as well as 21 handpainted quilt-themed murals, according to Sonya Nash with the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The award-winning, self-guided tour along the Heritage Trail is from May 30 to Sept. 15. 

“Our task at the Convention and Visitors Bureau is to suggest and encourage everybody to get out and experience Elkhart County,” she told the Elkhart County Commissioners in announcing the launch of the annual tour. “All the great things there are to see and do. Everything from our festivals and events to our restaurants, our brew pubs and our shops – and our quilt gardens.”

Each garden forms a colorful geometric pattern, using over a million blooms among them. The flowers used in the gardens are annuals, so the design of each one can be changed every year, she noted. 

Gardens are located in Elkhart, Goshen, Nappanee, Bristol and Middlebury.

This year’s tour has three new sites, including Abshire Park in Goshen, Southgate Crossing in Elkhart and Pumpkinvine’s New Life Consignments in Middlebury. Nash said they’re excited to finally have a garden along the Pumpkinvine Trail with Abshire.

“We know bicycle enthusiasts and hikers and walkers that take that trail oftentimes appreciate flowers and plants, and so we’re excited to talk to that audience and raise the awareness of quilt gardens in the rest of our communities,” she said.

She added that the consignment shop is a newer business whose owners wanted to get involved after seeing how the gardens could attract visitors from out of state.

“She had a person who was on the quilt garden tour from South Carolina who was in her shop, she spent $100. And she called me the next day and said, ‘How do I get on this tour? I want a quilt garden, because clearly they like to shop and buy,’” Nash said. “Which is our objective with our project, is to encourage those cash registers to ring.”

She also said the visitors bureau and the Community Foundation of Elkhart County are still taking nominations for their year-long Vibrant People project. The campaign aims to celebrate one person a day, all year, for their contributions to the community.

“You just go online, it’s really easy, it took me like three minutes to nominate this gal that I just think is pretty awesome,” she said. “Our objective is to recognize those people – 365 wonderful people – who are making Elkhart County grow, make it vibrant, make it thrive. They are the real wheels of the cog of Elkhart County.” 

See featured profiles and nominate someone at vibrantelkhartcounty.org/vibrantpeople.

For a map of garden and mural locations, visit amishcountry.org/things-to-do/quilt-gardens.

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