Blankets of blooms

Northern Indiana’s Heritage Trail is draped, literally, in mega-sized quilts in mural and garden form

Posted on May 24 2024 in Travel

By Natalie Derrickson

Millions of vibrant blooms in hot pinks, cool purples, and sunny yellows stand tall, sharply defining their esteemed role in a thoughtfully designed pattern installed by 200-plus thoughtful and generous volunteers. These aren’t just any old public garden beds. They are the Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail in Elkhart County.

Blossoming from two test gardens plotted in 2007, 13 Quilt Gardens dot the Elkhart County map this summer across six cities and towns, including Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury, Nappanee, Bristol, and Wakarusa. Hand-painted, super-sized murals of stunning quilts painted by artist Jeff Stillson of Nappanee can be found alongside three of the Quilt Gardens. Others stand on their own, adorning gathering spaces like the Elkhart Civic Theatre in Bristol and at community standbys like Martin Ace Hardware in Middlebury.

Visitors can enjoy these stunning displays all summer long, from May 30 through Sept. 15. Take your time and enjoy the journey by lingering at the Quilt Gardens’ host locales. History buffs can combine interests at Quilt Garden stops at Ruthmere in Elkhart, Krider World’s Fair Gardens in Middlebury, and Goshen’s Elkhart County Courthouse and Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds. Stand in awe at the largest Quilt Garden at Das Dutchman Essenhaus and check out the site’s quilt mural before you fill your belly with authentic Amish-style meals.

With 13 gardens and 12 murals to visit, taking your time is encouraged — and so is keeping track of your stops. Get the Quilt Gardens Passport and log each garden and mural you visit this summer to earn points and win prizes from the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Enjoying the Quilt Gardens is free and open for all to enjoy at their own pace during daylight hours. Learn more about the Quilt Gardens, plot your route, and download your passport at

Natalie Derrickson is a freelancer from Indianapolis.

Photos courtesy of Elkhart County, Indiana CVB