- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - A rainbow of about 150,000 annual plants is being delivered to 19 sites this month to make up the ninth annual Quilt Gardens display.

Hundreds of workers and volunteers will spend the next two weeks planting the flowers of all colors, arranged in designs that represent quilt patterns of historical significance to Elkhart County to coincide with Indiana’s bicentennial celebration. The planting should be complete by May 27, weather permitting, in time for the official May 30 opening of this year’s exhibit.

The Quilt Gardens are free to visit through Oct. 1.

Among the highlights of this year’s gardens:

-Nappanee Heritage Center, 302 W. Market St.: The volunteers who plant and maintain this site will be among the first to get their flowers in the ground Wednesday and Thursday. They are planting the 1932 Whirligig pattern.

-Premier Arts, Main and Marion streets, downtown Elkhart: Featuring a 12-foot tall torch created by Elkhart artist Terry Manderfeld, this Quilt Garden will stand out. Made from weather-treated wood, the torch has metallic gold paint and can be lit on special occasions. Inspired by the 1920 Dogwood pattern, the Back Home Again in Indiana garden will be planted May 23 and 24 by students and volunteers of Premier Arts, the theater company of the Lerner Theatre.

-Elkhart County Courthouse, Main Street and Lincoln Avenue, Goshen: The 1906 Goshen pattern will be planted May 25. Located in the heart of historic downtown Goshen, this site will be cared for by volunteers from the Goshen Historical Society.

-The Quilt Gardens connect several Elkhart, Goshen, Nappanee, Middlebury, Bristol, Wakarusa and Shipshewana on the Heritage Trail. Each year, tour groups from around the U.S. and the world visit Elkhart County to see the Quilt Gardens.

-The Elkhart County Convention & Visitor Bureau launched the Quilt Gardens display in 2008. Last year, about 200 people - many of them volunteers - spent an estimated 2,000 man-hours planting, watering and weeding the gardens over four months.

“The Quilt Gardens bring out the best in Elkhart County,” said Diana Lawson, executive director of the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We’re grateful to the hundreds who work so hard to keep each site looking at its best throughout the spring, summer and fall. And we’re humbled by the rave reviews we get from visitors near and far - some coming from as far away as Japan and Australia.”

When the Quilt Gardens open on May 30, the parallel Quilt Mural displays also officially open. This year’s Quilt Murals include 21 sites designed by local artists mostly at or near Quilt Gardens sites or along the Heritage Trail driving tour.

“We’re expecting the best year yet for the Quilt Gardens, and we’re especially excited to be celebrating Indiana and local history by being a Bicentennial Legacy Project,” said Sonya Nash, project manager for the Quilt Gardens at the convention & visitors bureau. “We hope everyone enjoys the gardens and murals this season.”

One of the highlights of the Quilt Gardens this year will be the Bicentennial Torch Relay on Oct. 4, which will be passing by many Quilt Gardens sites on its 52-mile route through Elkhart County.

The Elkhart County Historical Museum is inviting the public to a party celebrating the opening of the museum’s quilt garden at 6 p.m. May 26..Guests will be able to see the quilt garden as well as the Indiana bicentennial barn quilt that will be on display at the museum, 304 W. Vistula (Indiana 120) in Bristol.

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Source: The Elkhart Truth: https://bit.ly/1W5dSrD

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Information from: The Elkhart Truth, https://www.elkharttruth.com


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