By TOM YODER
Quilt pattern gardens are an expression of one’s artistic talents and abilities with the use of vegetation and gardening skills as a canvas. They have become symbols and beacons to draw attention to and attract the visiting public to retailers and city parks everywhere.
I’m not certain where it all began but I’d like to think it started in the Elkhart and LaGrange County area.
Quilt gardens have emerged from simple beginnings in which there was a square with two or three colors that blended well to huge and exact replicas of famous quilts that we might see displayed at the Mennonite Relief Auction and many other retail locations throughout our northern counties or they may be the result of someone’s creative imagination brought to fruition.
I must say, the creativity I’ve seen all over our northern counties amazes me not only with the richness of the colors but also the refinement of the patterns with crisp edges to exemplify the images. The designs themselves may be the creation of a talented artist or possibly several working together but the actual physical replication is usually by the sweat and brow of many workers. The follow-up work, after the initial planting, of weeding and more weeding is what we gardeners like to refer to as “love of gardening.”
One’s imagination can run wild when designing a pattern for a quilt garden — even the inclusion of grassed area divider strips such as at The Old Bag Factory.
Not only do colors and harmonizing come into play when designing a pattern but also the consideration of varying heights at maturity of the many plants involved. One can only dream and wait at what might show up next year — I’m sure it will be even more impressive.
I was especially impressed by a display last year (2011) at the Krider Park in Middlebury that displayed a sunburst pattern that had the same pattern replicated on several benches throughout the park. I’m not sure which came first, the bench or the garden for the theme (the old “which came first theory — the chicken or the egg”), but it was one of those special “oh my” moments — needless to say, my camera was clicking!
I for one would like to know, at each location, who the designer/artist is and the group sponsoring or attributing to the project — may be something to consider in future gardens by means of a small sign. I’m sure I’m not the only curious person. An artist thrives on notoriety and groups deserve the special recognition for their hard work. It may be that I’ve simply overlooked it in my excitement.
Hopefully the trend continues with new and even more impressive displays next year — I can’t get enough of them. I think the planners and designers are having more fun than the observers, if that is even possible.
A special thanks to the “keepers” of the gardens who had to overcome the heat and draught of this unusual year. It took great perseverance to keep these beautiful gardens in pristine condition — no small task.
Fall garden color is always a challenge and if you’ve ever wondered what that beautiful purple shrub in bloom this time of year is, it’s none other than caryopteris or better known as blue mist shrub — a late bloomer that will brighten the landscape with a luminous blue.