Travel: Flower Gardening in the Midwest

Discovering flower gardening while traveling through the midwest.

 Do you enjoy flower gardening? I do.  If asked, I believe that most gardeners would say that a garden filled with lovely flowers is a priority for them.

A few years ago, I decided to explore the midwestern United States and along with the history, culture and people – I wanted to view the gardens.  The first part of our road trip took me to a large flower garden in Michigan, filled with tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus, which you can read about here.

The second leg of our road trip took us to the states of Illinois and Indiana where we explored Amish country, plant sales, regional birds and a bit of history.


An Amish buggy in Shipshewana, Indiana

Our journey in Indiana began in Amish country, located just 30 miles east of Elkhart.

If you have never been to Amish country, it is a wonderful experience.  Many people are fascinated by the simple life the that Amish people lead and how happy they seem.


I enjoyed driving by the Amish farms and seeing the new foals alongside their mothers.


Amish farm

Amish farms were often found alongside regular farms.  The way you could tell which were Amish farms was to look for the blue and black clothing hanging from the clothes line and an absence of electric wires leading to the house.

Another interesting item that was often found on Amish farms were bird houses for Purple Martin (Progne subs) birds, which are frequently seen in the area.


Purple martin bird houses

Purple martins are a large swallow species and the males have a deep blue/black coloring.  Homes everywhere had at least one of these purple martin houses or gourds in which to house these birds.

You can learn more about these birds and how people are working toward the conservation of this bird species here.


Walking through downtown Shipshewana, Indiana, I was immediately entranced by this old bed frame that had been painted and set into the ground.  Flowering bulbs had been planted within the frame.  Pink & white hyacinths, purple crocus and yellow daffodils had already started blooming in early May.  The tulips had not yet made their appearance.

I love seeing examples of unique containers and garden art in flower gardens, don’t you?


Pink magnolia tree

Magnolia trees were in full bloom.  The flowers started out dark pink in the center and faded to a delicate, pale pink on the outer edges.


Amish farmer adding manure to his field before planting corn.

While visiting Amish country, we stayed in a Bed & Breakfast.  In the morning as we were eating our breakfast, we were greeted by the sight of an old Amish farmer fertilizing his field with manure.  The wagon he pulled would spin out the manure as the horses pulled.  I was told that he would be planting corn in that field.

By the way – did you know that Indiana is the ‘Popcorn Capitol’ of the United States?  We sampled many delicious varieties during our visit.


During our stay, we headed out to the Shipshewana Flea Market.  Large areas filled with flowering plants for sale greeted our arrival.  Some plants were already planted in containers like these galvanized buckets.  I like how the flowering annuals are paired with ornamental grasses, which add a vertical accent.


Pink azaleas

One of the many things that I enjoy about traveling, is viewing plants that would not do well in my garden, like these colorful azaleas.  (Azaleas like acidic soil and the soils in the southwest, where I live, are quite alkaline.)


Some of the flowers offered for sale had not yet come into full bloom yet.  But if you are buying flowering annuals, it is a good idea to select plants that have NOT flowered yet as opposed to one that is in full flower.  The reason for this is that the opened flowers will fade soon after planting.  By selecting one that had buds that haven’t opened, you will enjoy the flowers for a longer length of time in your flower garden.

Shopping at the flea market was quite interesting because there were quite a few Amish people there too.


After our time in Indiana, we began to head west toward Illinois.  Spring was in the air and stores were filled with both flowers and vegetables ready for impatient gardeners ready to start planting.

Bicycle Planter

Bicycle planter in downtown Noblesville, Indiana

We stopped by the historic downtown area of Noblesville as we traveled through Indiana.  I loved this old bicycle with flowers planted in the basket.

Chair containers

These old chairs had been repurposed into planters and filled with purple violas and pink geraniums.

Creating planters from old chairs is easy to do.  Find out how to make your own here.


After leaving Indiana, we headed toward the land of Lincoln – specifically, Springfield, Illinois where my mother and I visited Abraham Lincoln’s tomb.  While there, we learned about the traditional ‘rubbing’ of Lincoln’s nose, so we did it along with the other visitors that day.

robin_indiana A curious robin took a break from feeding on worms to see what we were doing.


Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois

Our last stop in Illinois was to visit Abraham Lincoln’s home.

Now we were off to the land of Tom Sawyer and Route 66 where a butterfly garden, peonies and iris awaited our discovery.

  1. says

    Enjoyed your blog and glad you enjoyed our Amish Country flowers. Hope your travels take you back to northern Indiana’s Amish Country to see our Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail. 2014 delivers 20 eye-popping, quilt- themed gardens blanketing 7 Amish Country communities. And you can see them all for free from May 30 to October 1.


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