Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Quilt Gardens Tour

I had the wonderful opportunity last week to participate in a very unique event called The Quilt Gardens Tour (http://www.quiltgardenstour.com/) , that is currently in progress throughout the Amish Country of Northern Indiana. And guess what, folks----it's FREE!!! It's like going on a treasure hunt in the most beautiful locations you can imagine! There are 16 "official" gardens, that contain some 80,000 blooms, all of which are growing in an arrangement that is representative of a quilting pattern. The gardens are placed in 7 different communities along the Heritage Trail, and the event was named in the "Top 100" events nationwide, as judged by the American Bus Association. Personally, I think a more accurate description would be in the "Top 5" events!
The upper left photo shows the quilt garden in Wakarusa (if that name sounds familiar, it's probably because it was recently in the news when President Obama gave a speech there last Wednesday, as he announced plans to use some of the budget stimulus funds in a manufacturing "plant"---no pun intended--- located in Wakarusa). The upper right photo shows the "Breezy Days" pattern located at Linton's Enchanted Gardens. The lower left photo with the hearts pattern is perfect for its location in ElkHART, Indiana; the lower right photo shows a pattern called "Birds Eye View" and is planted beside a historic log cabin that houses a shop called "Quilt Designs".
The Quilt Gardens Project Manager, is Sonya L. Nash, pictured in top photo above, in front of the quilt garden and tour kiosk, at McCormick Creek Golf Course in Nappanee. The pattern is called "Recovery", symbolizing the town's recovery from a devastating tornado in 2007, as well as their continuing recovery from the recession troubling the the U.S. economy. The lower photo shows me in front of the quilt garden at the Menno-Hof Information Center in Shipshewana. The pattern in that garden is called "Dove at the Window" and is symbolic of the story told inside the Information Center. A visitor there learns of the Amish and Mennonite people that settled in Northern Indiana, after leaving Europe, in their search for freedom from religious persecution.
In addition to the quilt gardens, there are also 16 "official" murals along the Heritage Trail (see http://www.amishcountry.org) for a map of the Heritage Trail) that have been erected this year by groups that wanted to participate in this event, but perhaps did not have the space required to qualify for an official quilt garden site. The top left photo above shows the Elkhart County Historical Museum director explaining to a tour group, the significance of the mural located on the front of their building in Bristol. The same artist who painted it, Jeff Stillson, is also the artist who created the design for the official U.S. Postage Stamps depicting quilt patterns a few years back. The mural on the red barn is located at the Meadow Brook Farm, which also has an agricultural-crops-based quilt garden. The mural on the lower left above is located on the Goshen College campus, and the one on the right is also in Goshen at the Old Bag Factory.
Besides the opportunities to be out of doors touring the gardens and murals, there are numerous indoor activities with a quilt theme that one can participate in. There is a quilt exhibit at the Goshen College Library (upper left), viewing of archival quilts from the Civil War era at The Elkhart County Museum (lower left), tours showing how quilts were used in a typical Amish home (upper right), and actual "quilting bees" in progress, such as the ladies seen in lower right photo, as they worked together on a quilt at the Das Dutchman Essenhaus Quilt Show. In addition, our group was able to enjoy a charming, live stage production called "Quilters--The Musical" in Middlebury. In the same way that it took an overall plan to make the Quilt Tour a success----which must have been hard to envision to the person who just planted their 140th flat of marigolds---so God has a master plan for our lives. And, just as the Quilt Garden Tour has the official Master Garden Instruction Book that you can download from their website, so the Divine Master Gardener has an Instruction Book that we are free to "download" for instructions on how to create something beautiful from our lives. A favorite verse that sums this up is from Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future". Wishing you "miles of Heritage Trail smiles" as you make YOUR plans to see the Quilt Gardens of Northern Indiana!Posted by Picasa