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A Walk in the Garden

A Guide to Krider World’s Fair Garden and its History

By the Krider Garden Book Committee


Introduction Welcome to Middlebury’s Krider World’s Fair Garden, one of the oldest botanical garden parks in Indiana and the oldest garden park to be found in a small town. Most often parks in urban areas, and especially in towns, are developed for recreational purposes—for picnics, games and family outings and not for displaying plants and landscaping features. How did this park happen, and why did it happen in a small town such as Middlebury, Indiana? This garden began as a display garden for Middlebury’s Krider Nurseries at the 1933-1934 Chicago World’s Fair and as a result of this exhibit, the Krider mail order nursery business took root and prospered through the middle of the 20th Century. It was through mail order that Krider Nurseries grew—offering botanical wonders such as the first thornless rose (also known as the Festival rose) to both American and overseas customers. To answer your questions and share the delights of our garden, let us take you on a tour of both the present and the past in Krider Garden. Along the way, this tour will introduce you to the special features of this small town garden park, and it will tell you the story of one of our nation’s first mail-order nurseries, Krider Nurseries, the people who worked in this business and the impact that this business and its garden had on the town of Middlebury. In addition to being a garden park, Krider Garden now provides a trailhead and a rest stop along northern Indiana’s Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, a 26-mile rails-to-trails park for both bicyclists and pedestrians that, along with the MapleHeart Trail, connect the communities of Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury and Shipshewana. Krider Garden is not just one garden but a series of gardens that begin in the original (upper) garden location where gardens common to the 1930s are found, and then it continues into a newer, lower garden which was developed in what used to be a gully formed when the railroad bed for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern line was built. In this newer garden are the waterfall features, a gazebo and ponds, as well as the annual Quilt Garden—one of the many such gardens featured each year in this region’s Quilt Garden Tours. Krider World’s Fair Garden is also a stopping point along this region’s Heritage Trail as well as a favorite venue for outdoor weddings—and for everyone, it is a pleasant place to relax and enjoy quiet moments along its paths. There is something for everyone to enjoy at Krider Garden, from pedestrian paths to rich history lessons. Everyone is welcome to enjoy and relax in Krider Garden. In Middlebury, everyone is welcome!


Table of Contents Introduction




A Brief History


Krider World’s Fair Garden Dutch Windmill Quilt Garden Toadstools Pergola Sunrise Bench and Reflecting Pool Garden with a Cause English Tea House and Hebe Wesdorp and Krider Information Signs Mill House and the Waterfalls The Fountain

The Lower Garden

6 9 11 13 14 15 18 19 24 25


Gazebo 29 Rose Garden 30 Waterfalls and Pond 30

The Pumpkinvine Trail


Pavilion Rain Gardens Little Elkhart River Trestle Bridge

34 34 36 36

Other Tales of Krider Nurseries and the Garden


40 44 45

History of Krider Nurseries by Greg Lawson Krider Nurseries and the Pumpkinvine Railroad by Karen Wesdorp Growing Up in Krider Nurseries by Rex Krider and Karen Wesdorp

Special Thanks





A Map of Krider World’s Fair Garden and Its Key Features

Located at: 302 Bristol Ave. (County Road 8) Middlebury, Indiana

Key Features in Krider Garden: 1. Dutch Windmill 2. Quilt Garden 3. Toadstool 4. Pergola 5. Reflecting Pool and Sunrise bench 6. Garden with a Cause 7. English Tea House 8. Hebe, Goddess of Youth 9. Information signs on the history of Krider Nurseries 10. Mill House and the Waterfalls 11. The Fountain 12. Gazebo 13. Rose Garden 14. Pavilion on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail 15. Rain Garden 16. Restrooms 17. Trestle Bridge


A Brief History

Why is it called Krider World’s Fair Garden? This garden began as a display garden for Krider Nurseries at the 193334 Chicago World’s Fair, and it was there that fairgoers who visited the garden signed their names and addresses into a visitor’s book. It is from these more than 250,000 signatures and addresses that Krider Nurseries went on to become one of the largest mail order nursery businesses in the United States. After the fair closed, many of the landscaping ornaments and plants were brought back to Middlebury, Indiana, and replanted in the location of the present day Krider World’s Fair Garden Park. This garden, which was located across the street from the headquarters of the Krider Nurseries business, served for many years as a display of the plants and services that Krider Nurseries could offer to their customers. The garden also served as a favorite spot for local children and their parents to visit and enjoy the beauty of the garden. Krider Nurseries closed its doors in 1990 and donated the garden to the town of Middlebury in 1995. Now, it is a town park maintained both by the town and volunteers who love gardening and who have fond memories of the garden. Some of their stories will be shared with you in this book. We hope you will enjoy this tour through Middlebury’s Krider World’s Fair Garden and its history.


A Walking Tour of the Garden Whether one enters Krider Garden by turning into Krider Garden Lane from Middlebury’s Bristol Avenue (located at 302 Bristol Avenue, also known as County Road 8, along the Heritage Trail) or by cycling or walking along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, the first thing that captures one’s eye is the Dutch Windmill.

1. The Dutch Windmill

The windmill—then and now.


The Dutch windmill now sits at the end of Krider Garden Lane, but it once was the signature attraction at the Krider Nurseries display at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933-34. There, it operated as a decorative windmill with its sails turning. It was this feature that made it irresistible to kids even before the Fair was over. While at the Fair, Roger Krider, who was the grandson of the nurseries’ owner, Vernon, became tired and wandered off and went to sleep inside the windmill. Needless to say, his parents panicked and began a search for their lost child. Much to everyone’s relief, Roger was found safe and asleep inside the windmill. After the windmill was brought back to Middlebury and set up in the display garden, it once more attracted the interest of youngsters. Henry Sanford was one who, with reluctance and a reddened face, admitted that he and his friends enjoyed taking a ride on the windmill’s sails, trying to see who could hang on for a full revolution. As to whether Henry made the full round, he only blushed a deeper shade of red and didn’t say anything more. With such attention, this windmill has undergone repair and reconstruction over the years. The sails now are less likely to support adventurous 10-year-olds attempting to climb on board, much less take the full ride. The walk through the original (upper) garden begins to the left of the windmill, along a brick path. The flower gardens in front of the windmill are annual plantings but daylilies also can also be seen behind the windmill at the start of the trail as well as a red elm on your right and crab apples which bloom along the path during the spring. On your left and right are hostas which flourish well in the shade of trees. Just before you reach the dedication stone which is on your right, you’ll see on your left an American Beech as well as a view of the Quilt Garden.

Follow the brick path from the parking lot. (1. The Dutch Windmill, 2. Quilt Garden, 3. Toadstools and 14.Pavilion)


The Dedication Stone The Dedication Stone lists the donors of the original 2.4 acres of the Krider World’s Fair Garden to the town of Middlebury which took place on March 24, 1993. At the time the garden was dedicated, most structures were in considerable disrepair. Much of the funding and the restoration of the garden came from Middlebury residents, organizations and businesses also listed on the plaque. This garden was formally dedicated on August 12, 1995 as a botanical park.

Garden Notes Krider Garden is a living garden in which many of the plants are plants commonly found in the Midwest. Change is constant in the garden and so this guide will be less of a listing of plants, shrubs and trees and more of an experience of stepping back into time to the 1930s as you walk through the original (upper) garden. The lower garden is a more recent addition to the original World’s Fair Garden, as it completes the garden’s connection with the former railroad bed of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern line which passes through this park. The Middlebury section of the railroad bed was converted to the town’s Greenway Trail, which follows Railroad Street to Warren Street, and then continues up the hill along Warren Street to Middlebury’s main school campus and to this region’s popular Das Dutchman Essenhaus restaurant which serves Amish cuisine and a wide choice of pies for dessert. This Greenway Trail section from the intersection of Warren and Railroad to Railroad and York is now a part of this region’s popular 26-mile long Pumpkinvine Nature Trail for cyclists and hikers. The railroad bed between Middlebury and Goshen was nicknamed “The Pumpkinvine” because of its many twists and turns and so that name has been taken as the name for this trail which connects the towns of Shipshewana, Middlebury and Goshen. 8

2. The Quilt Garden The annual Quilt Garden in Krider Garden is one of many annual Quilt Gardens located in seven communities throughout Northern Indiana’s Amish Country. The gardens, plus the quilt murals which also are found on display on key commercial buildings in this area, honor the traditions of quilting and gardening that are to be found throughout Northern Indiana. Each year, the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau organize the selection of patterns and the creation of these popular symbols of our culture. Each Quilt Garden is planted with annual flowers in a unique quilt pattern that changes each year. Krider’s Quilt Garden can be viewed both from the lower garden and from the viewing area to your left that is next to the Greenway/Pumpkinvine trail. Each year, new patterns such as the Dutch Windmill (in 2010) and the sunrise pattern (in 2011), which also can be found on the Sunrise Benches in Krider Garden, have been chosen to represent the community of Middlebury. In 2012, the selected quilt pattern was a “hands all around,” designed to highlight the spirit of volunteerism—a key factor in making this community garden park possible. In 2013, community volunteers laid out a design with a pumpkin and a metal “bicycle” riding along the vine to celebrate the completion of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, a rails-to-trails project which flows past Krider Garden as did the former Pumpkinvine Railroad which served Krider Nurseries and the town of Middlebury from 1888 until it ceased operation in 1980.

The 2016 Quilt Garden with the newer Lower Garden in the background.

To get to the Quilt Garden Overlook, go around the rock garden to the left and you’ll see the overlook where the bench and Quilt Garden information sign are to be found.


Continuing on the Brick Path through the Original Krider Garden Returning to the brick path, we head towards the Toadstools, another key feature from the Chicago World’s Fair exhibit, but on your right, there is a “U” shaped rest area with a bench honoring Ezra Ropp for his service to Krider Garden. In your tour of Krider World’s Fair Garden you will see many other memorials to Middlebury area residents who have either worked for Krider Nurseries or whose families wanted to remember or honor loved ones. Each memorial forms an important connection to the garden for the Middlebury community.

The Ezra Ropp Memorial bench, a place to rest and enjoy the garden.


3. The Toadstool

The Toadstool is another feature that is hard to miss in Krider Garden

These toadstools were designed by Aloysius John Vocke and were a popular feature in the garden at the Chicago World’s Fair where they were known as the Toadstool Teahouse. They were meant to provide a shady location for visitors to sit and sip tea. The Toadstool remain today, not as a tea house, but simply as structures that still provide a place of interest to children of all ages to have their family picture taken. A special note to parents: the toadstools are more than 80-years-old and therefore should not be treated as a place for kids to romp. Your family can pose and sit for photos but please ask your kids to not climb, jump or swing from the toadstools.


Garden Notes During the spring, azaleas are in bloom to the left of the toadstools. Also to be enjoyed in the area are trillium, ferns and rhododendron which can be seen around the toadstools and along the path leading to the next garden feature which volunteers plant anew each spring.


4. Pergola Continuing on beyond the Toadstools to the next stop along the brick path you’ll pass a lovely floral garden. (Keep an eye out for signs identifying the various key species of trees that are growing in Krider Garden.) Soon you’ll come to the Pergola with the Reflecting Pool and the Sunrise Benches—all features that had been on display at the World’s Fair. These form the center of the original garden. The Pond, bordered by boxwood bushes, is a place for reflection with the Sunrise Bench on one side and the Pergola on the other. Karen Wesdorp, whose father Clarence was a skilled nurseryman who became Vice President and Operations Manager for Krider Nurseries, remembers pleasant Sunday afternoons during the summer months in which she and her family would follow their Swedish Aunt Lena Angstrom to the Pergola in Krider Garden. There, Aunt Lena would go up the steps to the pergola to recite a poem in her native Swedish language, after which she’d bow and curtsy as her family applauded. The original pergola gave way to time and neglect, but in 2005, the Lasalle Rosseau Chapter 441 of the Questers Club in Elkhart and Karen Wesdorp sponsored the rebuilding of the pergola as a historic restoration project.

The restored pergold in today’s Krider Garden

Aunt Lena in her Sunday best, standing next to a Sunrise bench inside the Pergola.


4. The Sunrise Bench and Reflecting Pool The Sunrise Benches, also a feature at the Chicago World’s Fair, have been reconstructed and duplicated at least two times. The first reconstruction was completed by Ezra Ropp. Then, in 2007, Tom Kauffman reconstructed the Ropp bench as well as two additional benches. The Pond was once a Lily Pond but as the trees grew and this area became more shaded, the lilies were moved to the Fountain (Item 11 on the garden map) and so the pond has now become a Reflecting Pool.


5. Garden with a Cause Continuing on to the next feature in the garden you will find an oval-shaped garden now dedicated to a new purpose as the Garden with a Cause. Each year a local cause or charity is chosen to provide a theme for the year’s annual planting. In the first year, 2010, the garden featured a pink ribbon garden in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. The next year, the garden was designed with a yellow ribbon to show support for all American military troops overseas. The 2012 garden became a red ribbon garden to support finding a cure for heart disease. To find out more about this year’s garden theme, check the information sign to the left, next to the garden. At the Garden with a Cause site, there are three more opportunities to take a rest and smell the flowers. The green steel bench next to the Garden with a Cause was at the Chicago World’s Fair, there are benches in the English Tea House and there are benches in the Gazebo overlooking the pond area in the Lower Garden. All are welcome resting places in which to sit and enjoy the garden.

The 2011 Garden honored the American Military


Then The Green Steel Bench For years this bench sat in the garden before it was realized that it, too, was a part of the Chicago World’s Fair exhibit. The bench was manufactured in the 1920s by Van Dorn Iron Works at Cleveland, Ohio.


The Overlook Another resting place that can be enjoyed is on the opposite side of the Garden with a Cause. This is an overlook which gives a pleasant place to sit and view Krider Garden’s newest features—the double waterfalls and the Gazebo. Both the Overlook (built in 2006) and the lower garden (built in 2002) are new additions to Krider Gardens.

Follow the brick path from Lily Pond. (3. Lily Pond, 6. Garden with a Cause, 7. English Tea House, 8. Hebe, 9. Krider and Wesdorp Information Signs)


The Overlook rest area with a view of the Lower Garden


7. The English Tea House and 8. Hebe, Goddess of Youth The English Tea House provides a welcome place to stop, rest and enjoy the view of the statue of Hebe, Greek Goddess of youth offering her cup of ambrosia and nectar. The Tea House was part of the World’s Fair display and was moved into Krider Garden after the fair but the original fell into disrepair and has been reconstructed at least two times. Karen Wesdorp recalls that she and her siblings, Henri and Cecilia, would often talk their mother into packing them a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches and some cookies to take to the garden where they would eat in the English Tea House, or also at the lily pond or under the big toadstool. Although Hebe, goddess of youth, is not an original figure from the Chicago World’s Fair, she is in keeping with the 1930s era when Greek revival statues were a popular centerpiece in both the home and the public gardens of that time. Hebe was added to this garden in 2011.

The English Tea House


Hebe, Goddess of Youth

9. Information Signs Further along the path are two information signs dedicated by the Krider and the Wesdorp families, who were key players in the success of the Krider Nurseries business. The Krider World’s Fair Garden is their legacy given to the town of Middlebury.

The Krider Nurseries offices, packing house, greenhouses, and sales room, 1923.

The Wesdorp Sign The garden displayed in the 1934 Chicago “A Century of Progress” World’s Fair, helped to give Krider Nurseries nationwide prominence. After showcasing the garden as a promotion at the Fair, Krider Nurseries brought parts of the exhibit back to this 2.4 acre plot of land and closely recreated the original design for future generations to enjoy. The display at the World’s Fair cost approximately $10,000 but the investment yielded a 250,000-name mailing list of visitors. Using this list, Krider Nurseries grew into a worldwide mail-order business.


Founded as a two-acre farm in 1896 by Vernon H. Krider and by 1926, the nursery grew by into a 420-acre operation headquartered across the street from this garden park. For decades, Krider Nurseries was the largest industry in Middlebury, employing over 100 people. The offices, packing house, greenhouses, and salesroom (all built in 1923) are shown in the picture above, along with the original entry way to the gardens where you are now standing. The following picture shows the World’s Fair garden in the foreground, and some of the nursery’s growing fields. In 1924, Clarence Wesdorp, a nurseryman born and educated in Boskoop, Holland, was hired as a plant propagator and general superintendent of the nurseries. At the time Boskoop was renowned as the world center of ornamental horticulture. Under the direction of founder Vernon H. Krider, his son Kenneth Krider, and Clarence Wesdorp, Krider Nurseries became one of the most diversified nurseries in the country, offering a wide variety of different plants, shrubs and trees to the public through their mail order services. On the nursery’s 420 acres, one-half million evergreens, shrubs, and trees, and over 100,000 hardy phlox were propagated annually. 165,000 rose bushes were contract-grown each year for Krider’s wholesale and retail sales. Among the items offered in the Krider Nurseries’ “Glories of the Garden” catalog was “Festival,” a thornless rose which was the first of its kind in the nation. Vernon Krider bought its patent and so Krider Nurseries became the exclusive source of the rose.

This sign was given in memory of Clarence Wesdorp by his wife Catherine, and children Cecilia Zubler, Karen Wesdorp, and Henri Wesdorp, August 1995

Above: The Krider Nurseries fields and the World’s Fair display garden (now a Middlebury garden park) in the foreground Top Right: Clarence Wesdorp in the Greenhouse, 1925 Bottom Right: Kirder Nurseries work crew, 1928


The Krider Sign In 1893, Vernon Krider marched proudly off the rostrum with his high school sheepskin tucked under his arm. He was sure he was going away to school to become a physician. However, the country was in a depression, so his family could not afford to pay for his medical schooling. Vernon’s father agreed to give him two acres of land, and said he could have all the proceeds from growing and selling small berry plants. Vernon began growing blackberries, dewberries and Cumberland raspberries. In 1896, he made his first sale of $25 for 5,000 raspberry plants. Vernon began buying additional land from the profits and added grapevines and other small fruits. While teaching school in the winters, he kept one employee working on the land. In 1898 he bought 30 more acres of adjoining land and made extensive plantings of berry plants and additional grape vines. He traded his 32 acres for his father’s farmland and he purchased 40 more acres in 1905. Fruit trees and a general line of nursery stock were added two years later when he added still another 67-acre plot. This led to building the first nursery building in 1908, and a large addition was added on in 1916. The Krider Nurseries became incorporated in 1923, the same year that a New York Central Railroad switch was laid at the side of the nursery building and was used for unloading railroad cars of evergreens and shrubs. In 1925 Krider printed his first colored catalog, “Glories of the Garden.” The same year, a fire destroyed the packing house, equipment and propagating stock. New buildings were constructed in 1926 and propagating stock was doubled. Two years later, the corporation purchased 290 acres for a total of 405 acres.

Top Left: Vernon H. Krider (1876-1955) Top Right: Erma M. Krider (1882-1965) Bottom:Vernon H. Krider, founder of Krider Nurseries, Inc. along with his wife Erma and their nine children. First row, from left: Frances, Vernon, Florence, Erma and LaVonne. Second row, from left: Irene, Letticia, Kenneth, Beatrice, Violet and Evelyn.


By 1938 the volume of Krider Nurseries’ mail order business was such that the U.S. government upgraded the Middlebury Post Office to first class even though the town had a population less than 1,000. Krider Nurseries employed over 100 people and was the town’s largest employer by the time World War II broke out in 1944. It was in that year that Krider obtained the patent for “Festival,” the thornless rose. By 1953, the corporation spent over $22,000 in postage to ship shrubs, trees, roses and perennials to every state in the United States and many foreign countries, including Thailand, South Africa and China. The volume of postal business exceeded $22,000 a year. Krider Nurseries maintained a mail order, retail and wholesale nursery business in Middlebury until the business was sold in 1988. The business closed in 1990 and the buildings were demolished in 1992. In 1993, the stockholders of Krider Nurseries donated the 2.4 acre World’s Fair Garden to the town of Middlebury to be used as a community park. There also is a third sign, the State of Indiana sign, which you will find to your right, just beyond the Mill House, which dates from 2001 and it designates Krider Nurseries World’s Fair Garden as an Indiana historic site.

Rex Krider, grandson of Vernon H. Krider stands next to the sign that he and the surviving Krider daughters, granddaughters and grandsons gave as a tribute on the 75th anniversary of the Chicago World’s Fair Garden, May, 2009.


The Indiana State Historical Marker

Follow the brick path from Information Signs. (10. The Mill House and Waterfalls Features, 11. The Fountain, 12. The Gazebo, 13. The Rose Garden)


10. The Mill House and the Waterfalls

The Mill house is one of the contributors to the waterfall feature in the lower garden

Next along the path is the Mill House with a water wheel, a reconstruction of the original which was a part of the Chicago World’s Fair display. Water from the wheel house flows down as a waterfall into the lower garden, a new addition to Krider Garden added in 2002. In 2014, the Waterfall from the Mill House was expanded to two waterfalls and a larger pond with a stone bridge that leads from the garden stairwell into the lower garden. However, before going down into the Lower Garden, you will see just beyond the Mill House there is another feature that is unique to Krider Garden—the fountain and a sundial that was added in 2015. 24

11. The Fountain

This fountain was not a part of the Century of Progress Chicago World’s Fair but along with the Mill House it is one of the two most visible structures in the garden from Bristol Avenue. The original fountain was built in 1935, when the display garden was created in Middlebury following the closing of the Fair but had to be rebuilt in 2015 because of the wear and tear of time. At night the fountain is lighted and makes an attractive garden feature which can be seen while driving along Bristol Avenue or walking or cycling along the Greenway/Pumpkinvine trail. In keeping with the 1930s landscaping theme of the original garden, the fountain is bordered with boxwood bushes.


The Jayco Stone Bench At the top of the stairs there is an observation area overlooking the lower garden. In this area there is a cut stone bench. This gift to the Town of Middlebury was given in July 2001 by Jayco, Inc., one of the town’s major employers and a major benefactor to Middlebury’s parks. The Jayco stone bench is another good location to take a rest and enjoy the view of the lower garden, the waterfall from the Mill House and the activity along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. At this point, you have two choices, to go down the stairs to the lower garden or you can walk further down the brick path, along the memorial gardens and leave the brick path and follow along the Tahara memorial garden to the earthen ramp leading down to the lower garden. (You’ll see the Gazebo on the left.)

The stairwell to the Lower Garden and the Jayco Stone Bench

The Lower Garden with the waterfall pond and the rose garden


Heading toward the path to the lower garden. This path leads you down the lower garden


The Lower Garden The stairwell and the lower level garden were built in 2002 as a new addition to Krider World’s Fair Garden and it has since become a popular wedding venue and a favored place for Middlebury families to dedicate a tree or a garden feature as a memorial to a loved one. The quiet, shaded path through the Lower Garden also leads to the Gazebo, the Rose Garden and a full view of the Waterfalls and the Pond—and at the other end, the Quilt Garden.


12. The Gazebo

The gazebo was completed in 2016 and it sits next to the Waterfall pond in the Lower Garden The gazebo is Krider Garden’s newest edition, built in the spring of 2016, to serve as a resting spot and as a focal point for special occasions. It also provides a comfortable spot to sit and enjoy being in the garden.


13. The Rose Garden The Waterfalls and Pond The rose garden is also a new addition to Krider Garden. Within this small garden are 19 different varieties of roses, including Festival, the first thorn-less rose. The Waterfall feature was first developed in the garden in 2003 and then it became a larger, double water fall with a lily pond at the base in 2014. On the walk back to the Quilt Garden, there are lovely plantings to enjoy along the way, as well as picnic tables.


The quilt garden area in the lower garden has become an especially popular location for outdoor weddings.


The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, a bicycle/pedestrian pathway which connects Goshen, Middlebury and Shipshewana, is a rails-to-trails conversion of the bed of the former New York Central/Lakeshore and Michigan Southern Railroad section that was called “The Pumpkinvine” because of its many twists and turns along the route between Goshen and Middlebury. Penn Central also bought this line but discontinued operations on this line in 1975. A local company tried to operate it for tourism for a while but the operating expenses were too much and so the rails and ties were taken up in 1982. Middlebury’s section of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail was built in 2003 as the Greenway bicycle/pedestrian trail which continues north across the Trestle Bridge and south along Railroad Street to Wayne Street where it then goes up Wayne Street to Middlebury’s main school campus and Das Dutchman Essenhaus. In 2013, the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, of which the Greenway Trail is a part, was completed and so this linear park which passes alongside Krider Garden now is a vital recreational link between the towns of Shipshewana to the east and Goshen to the southwest of Middlebury. The trail runs through the southeastern edge of Krider Garden but once this railroad also provided shipping services to Krider Nurseries via its siding on the grounds of the nursery across the street from the present day garden park. In the early spring, the train would bring boxcars full of roses to the nursery packing house—roses that had been selected earlier in December or January, when Clarence Wesdorp would go down to Texas on a buying trip for the forthcoming gardening season. Rex Krider, grandson of Vernon Krider, also remembers his father Kenneth and his older brother, Roger, would drive to Tyler, Texas to visit their nursery’s biggest contract grower of roses. “Tyler still has the nickname, “Rose Capital of the World” because it possesses some of the best soil and climate for growing roses,” said Krider. “In the early 1960s, when I was just out of college, I was invited to go with them. In route we made stops in McMinnville, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama to visit wholesale nurseries that we had been doing business with for many years. “While in Tennessee, the nurseryman took us up to a whiskey still to see where they made White Lightnin.’ “That was the first and the last time I had a taste of that liquor!” Along both the Nature Trail and the path through the lower garden there are memorial gardens and trees planted by local families. 32


14. The Pavilion and 15. The Rain Garden The Pavilion provides a rest stop and picnic area for visitors to Krider Garden and for those who walk or ride bicycles on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. The Pavilion is surrounded by gardens and of special interest is the rain water garden on the side of the Pavilion nearest the Little Elkhart River and the Trestle Bridge. (A second rain garden can be found on the other side of the trail, near the parking lot at the map location 15 which is across from the information Kiosk.)

The Pavilion provides a central resting point for those on the Nature Trail and those on the garden tour.

The Pavilion also has a Rain Garen at one end.


A map of Krider World’s Fair Garden and Its Key Function

Key Features in Krider Garden: 1. Dutch Windmill 2. Quilt Garden 3. Toadstool 4. Pergola 5. Reflecting Pool and Sunrise bench 6. Garden with a Cause 7. English Tea House 8. Hebe, Goddess of Youth 9. Information signs on the history of Krider Nurseries 10. Mill House and the Waterfalls 11. The Fountain 12. Gazebo 13. Rose Garden 14. Pavilion on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail 15. Rain Garden 16. Restrooms 17. Trestle Bridge


The Little Elkhart River

Early pioneers to Middlebury found the Little Elkhart River and the artesian water running from the nearby hillside on the western side of the river to be good reason to settle and to build water-powered mills to provide settlers with flour, cornmeal and lumber. In the 1800s, the Little Elkhart River has seven grist mills of which only three remain today. The three existing mills are the Bonneyville Mill located 2.5 miles southeast of Bristol at 53373 County Road 131, Miller’s Cider Mill located at 55514 County Road 8 (Bristol Avenue in Middlebury) and the Wanberg Popcorn plant, formerly known as the Middlebury Grist Mill, located within Middlebury on East Warren Street, upstream from Krider Garden. According to Rex Krider, grandson of Vernon Krider, the river also provided a good supply of irrigation water to Krider Nurseries. 36

17. Historic Trestle Bridge

The Trestle Bridge across the Little Elkhart River was built in 1900. This 158foot bridge, built by pile-driving posts into the river bed, was abandoned for years after the railroad stopped running. In 2004 the Middlebury Park Department restored the bridge to serve as a bicycle/pedestrian bridge as part of the Middlebury Greenway Trail. In 2006 the Elkhart County Historical Society recognized the trestle bridge as a saved historic structure.


To the right as you approach the Trestle Bridge from Krider Garden there’s a gravel walking path that leads down to a launching/fishing site on the river that is next to the Trestle Bridge. Both the town of Middlebury and Krider Garden have grown. What started as an exhibition at the 1933-1934 Chicago World’s Fair and was brought back to Middlebury to become a display garden for Krider Nurseries outlasted the nursery business to become a garden park in 1995. This garden has now more than doubled in size to become a delightful stop. Krider Garden offers visitors and locals alike a quiet place to sit and eat a sandwich, and place for lovers who want to get married outdoors. It is a stop for travelers and garden enthusiasts driving along the Quilt Garden/Heritage Trail and it also serves as a key mid-point rest stop for walkers and cyclists along this region’s Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. The future looks good for both the town and it's garden park.

The historic Pumpkinvine Trestle Bridge across the Little Elkhart River is now part of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. The Pumpkinvine Railroad’s Trestle Bridge across the Little Elkhart River now serves as an important bridge on the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. (Note to the left and right are pedestrian walkways with the center path primarily for use by cyclists.)


Other Tales of Krider Nurseries and the Garden For YouTube videos, visit the Town of Middlebury website for easy access to stories by Rex Krider and Karen Wesdorp of their growing up in Krider Nurseries and Krider World’s Fair Garden: o Visit the Town of Middlebury Click on Departments, and then on Parks and Recreation. Click on Krider World’s Fair Garden and then select any of the following: o Rex Krider: Introduction to Krider Nurseries and Krider Garden o Krider Garden Then and Now o Rex Krider Remembers Krider Display Built for 1934 World Fair o Rex Krider Shares A Childhood Memory about Krider Nursery o Karen Wesdorp 1: Growing Up in Krider Nursery – The Rocker Story o Karen Wesdorp 2: The Horse Team Story o Karen Wesdorp 3: Family Fun in Krider Gardens o Karen Wesdorp 4


The History of Krider Nurseries By: Greg Lawson

In 1893 Vernon H. Krider marched proudly off the rostrum with his high school sheepskin tucked under his arm. He was sure he was going away to school to become a physician. However, the country was in a depression and so his family could not afford to pay for his medical schooling. Vernon’s father, Samuel, agreed to give him two acres of land and said he could have all the proceeds from growing and selling small berry plants—and so Vernon began growing blackberries, dewberries and Cumberland raspberries. In 1896 he made his first sale of $250 for 5,000 raspberry plants. Vernon then began buying additional land, adding grapevines and other small fruits to his farming efforts. During the winter months, he taught school and kept one employee working on his land. In 1898 he bought 30 more acres of adjoining land in which he planted more berry plants and grapevines. He also traded 32 acres of his land for his father’s farmland, and purchased 40 more acres in 1905. Two years later, he added fruit trees and a general line of nursery stock to his holdings, along with another 67 acres of land. The idea of transforming his farm into a nursery business began to take shape in 1908 with the construction of the first nursery building. Krider Nurseries became incorporated in 1923, and in that same year, a New York Central Railroad, which ran next to the nursery’s property, added a switch and a siding that ran from the main line to the side of the Krider nursery building—to be used for unloading railroad cars of coal, evergreens and shrubs and other produce, and for shipping nursery stock. With the growth of his business, Vernon Krider realized he needed an expert nurseryman and so in 1924, he hired Clarence Wesdorp, a nurseryman born and educated in Boskoop, Holland which was then the world center of ornamental horticulture. Wesdorp worked as plant propagator and general superintendent of the nursery’s 420 acres—managing the growth of a half million evergreens, shrubs, and trees, as well as over 100,000 hardy phlox. In the late 1930s, through the efforts of Clarence Wesdorp, Vernon Krider and his son, Kenneth, Krider Nurseries became one of the most diversified nurseries in the country— growing more varieties of plants than any other nursery in the United States. Under Wesdorp’s direction the nursery propagated thousands of plants from cuttings, and grafted many thousands of roses, apple trees and hydrangeas. The nursery also started growing a large variety of perennials from seed, such as dahlias, spireas, phlox, daises, hollyhocks and coreopsis. He also started growing many different kinds of evergreens. Krider also contracted for 165,000 rose bushes to be grown in Tyler, Texas—then known 40

as the Rose Capital of the World as it possessed some of the best soil and climate for growing roses. Nursery stock also expanded to include apple trees and hydrangeas, propagated from cuttings and grafted, and a large variety of perennials grown from seed. In 1925 Krider Nurseries printed its first color catalog “Glories of the Garden” but in that same year, a fire broke out and destroyed the packing house, along with the equipment and the propagating stock In the following year, new buildings were constructed and propagating stock was doubled and within two more years, another 290 acres of land was added by the corporation—bringing the total acreage to 405 acres. With the 1934 “Century of Progress” World’s Fair coming up in Chicago, both Vernon Krider and Clarence Wesdorp saw this as an excellent opportunity to further their business by creating a display garden to draw customers from among those who attended the fair. In return for their $10,000 investment in creating the display garden at the Chicago World’s Fair they gained a mailing list of more than 250,000 names and addresses—thanks to the guest book that was placed in the Krider Nurseries display. Visitors signed in their name and their address and thus began a period of growth that lead to Krider Nurseries becoming one of the largest mail order nursery businesses in the United States. Also following the closing of the Chicago World’s Fair, Krider Nurseries brought back many of the features of their World’s Fair exhibit and placed them in a display garden that they created across the street from their Middlebury headquarters. This garden served as a display of the plants and the services that Krider Nurseries had to


offer its customers—and it is this garden that in 1995 became Middlebury’s botanical garden park, Krider World’s Fair Garden. Also in the aftermath of the Chicago World’s Fair, Vernon Krider further developed his business by purchasing the patent for “Festival”—the world’s first thornless rose for $10,000. The thornless rose was advertised in Krider Nurseries’ “Glories of the Garden” catalog as the first of its kind in the nation and it was sold exclusively by Krider Nurseries. More than 100 people also were employed at Krider Nurseries during these peak years of business, making it Middlebury’s largest business and employer. The success and growth during these years was due largely to the efforts of the President and founder Vernon Krider, Vice President and General Superintendent Clarence Wesdorp and Kenneth Krider who served as the office manager. In 1946 Krider Nurseries bought the patent rights (Plant Patent Number 545) to Festival, the first hybrid thornless Tea Rose which was developed by E.C. hill of Tyler, Texas. The $10,000 that Krider paid for the patent was the “highest ever paid for roses.” Krider also bought a climbing variety of the thornless rose for $1,000. The thornless Festival is commonly known as a red rose but the thornless rose also was available as a white rose called Evangeline. In the spring 1946 catalog “Glories of the Garden,” Vernon Krider writes “all my life I’ve had a vision of a rose without a thorn, red in color, rich in fragrance: and, behold, this rose is born.” The catalog describes the Festival Rose as: “The first and only thornless red hybrid tea rose. A brilliant sport of the famous E. G. Hill. All the hardiness, good growing qualities and prolific blooming habit of its ancestors but with the NEW QUALITY of having CANES FREE FROM THORNS. Truly the marvel of the age in rose development. Brightest red color and will begin blooming in six to eight weeks after planting. Produces abundantly from then on until freezing fall weather. We offer only two year, number 1, field – grown and budded plants.” The rose was priced in the spring of 1946 at $2.00 each or 3 for $5.00. In 1970 it was still the only thornless rose available in the rose market. Krider Nurseries was extremely successful in the rose business and in 1971 supplied roses for the wedding of Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia. The Krider family has long been honored as outstanding citizens of Middlebury. In 1979 Kenneth Krider was given the Exchange Club Book of Golden Deeds award and later, Roger Krider also received this award. In 1986 the Krider family was named Elkhart County Farm Family of the Year by the Elkhart County Agricultural Society. Gradually over the years the plant business changed from mail orders to plants being purchased in local garden centers. Sales through the catalog had declined by the mid 1980’s, but the company still circulated their catalog nationwide. The Kriders added a retail garden center in the early 1970’s in the barns on the nursery grounds. In addition to the retail business much of the business in the 1980’s was to supply wholesale stock to professional landscapers. In 1986 Vernon’s son Kenneth, and his daughters Violet, Beatrice, and Francis as well as Kenneth’s son Roger, were involved in the business. Several acres of land were sold to realtors in the early 1980’s for housing developments. 42

In 1988 the business was sold to Tim and Deb Barwick and in 1990 the business closed but the Krider family and stockholders owned the land where the World’s Fair Garden was located. Krider Worlds Fair Garden flourished as the business flourished and declined as the business declined. By 1988 the garden was “overgrown, vandalized and unrecognizable from its earlier appearance. On March 24, 1993 the Krider Nurseries stockholders donated the 2.4 acre Krider World’s Fair Garden to the Town of Middlebury to be used as a community park. At this time, the Middlebury Park and Recreation Department assumed the task of restoring the garden. A committee was formed to guide the restoration and a $100,000 budget was established through private donations and many volunteers worked to restore the garden. Early in the project the decision was made to salvage as many of the trees, structures and plants as possible. Gary Henderson, a “certified Forester” and owner of New Acre Landscaping of Goshen, Indiana, was hired to design the garden. Henderson’s comments on the project were, “We are trying to capture the essence of the garden, the feeling you get when you walk through it. There is a charm to the garden and we like to keep it there. There are mature plants there that make it like a mini-arboretum. There are about 40 different trees and shrubs throughout the garden and many varieties of perennials, including the largest climbing hydrangea I have ever seen. There is also a large collection of Japanese and English Yews, a beautiful specimen dogwood and a large purple leaf beech.” Henderson also added that the garden “has taken on a mature charm and has its own personality. You couldn’t duplicate the garden in its present state.” Ezra Ropp, a local contractor, was responsible for leading the restoration of the structures including the mill house, tea house, mushrooms, sunrise bench and windmill. Some structures required minor repairs and others had deteriorated so badly they had to be rebuilt. Ropp used patterns from some original structures to build new, studied old photos and talked to earlier caretakers of the garden as he made his restorations. On August 12, 1995 during the 60th anniversary of the garden being returned to Middlebury, the restored garden was dedicated at a program that included Robert Garton, President protem of the Indiana Senate as the featured speaker. The dedication stone and marker recognizes the occasion and the contributors to the restoration project. A brochure was developed for the dedication that included a map with directions to the garden, a layout of the garden with attractions noted and the cover page with an introduction, which reads as follows: Come explore the wonders of a 1934 walkthrough garden. Discover the unique fauna and quaint ponds. Become fascinated by the horticulture design. Stumble upon the English Teahouse. Catch a glimpse of the giant toadstools. Encounter the Rising Sun Bench. See the whimsical windmill. Come and take a journey into the past by walking through Krider Garden. See for yourself that time can stand still. 43

Krider Nurseries and the Pumpkinvine Railroad By: Karen Wesdorp

The New York Central Railroad (known as the Pumpkinvine Railroad in Middlebury) provided a siding railroad track from the main track at the depot in Middlebury to the area behind the Krider Nurseries buildings. Every winter my dad Clarence Wesdorp would travel to Texas and California to purchase thousands of rose bushes from the rose growing farms there. In the early spring the roses my dad had purchased would be shipped to Middlebury on the railroad. Several train cars filled with roses would be switched to the nursery rail siding track so the roses could be unloaded and stored in three large cold-storage rooms in the nursery packing building. Then as mail orders would arrive at the nursery for roses as well as many other types of nursery stock, employees would take an order sheet, go to the bins where freshly dug nursery stock such as perennials, trees and shrubs were stored, and to the cold-storage rooms where the roses were stored and get the appropriate plants to fill the orders. Other employees would then take the small plants, trees, shrubs and roses for each specific order and pack the roots of the nursery stock in moist excelsior, which was made of wood shavings. They would then wrap the whole bundle in heavy krinkle-kraft paper, place the address label on the package and put the package in a large cart. These packages ranged in size from quite small with just a few perennial plants, to very large with four to five foot trees and shrubs in the package. The small packages would be taken to the Middlebury Post Office to be mailed to the customer by parcel post. Krider Nurseries provided so much business for the Middlebury Post Office that it was declared a First Class Post Office (unusual for a small town). The large packages would be taken to the Middlebury train depot to be shipped by rail to the customer. (There is a photo somewhere that shows many large, tall packages wrapped in krinkle-kraft paper leaning against the side of the depot waiting to be shipped on the next train. I can’t find the picture here; perhaps it is at the museum.) The third use of the Pumpkinvine Railroad siding track by Krider Nurseries was to have a train car or two of coal delivered, which was used to heat all of the nursery buildings during cold weather. Krider Nurseries was the largest employer in Middlebury for many, many years and provided much business for the Post Office and the Railroad.


Growing Up in Krider Nurseries By: Rex Krider and Karen Wesdorp

Rex Krider, son of Kenneth Krider and grandson of Vernon Krider, and Karen Wesdorp, daughter of Clarence Wesdorp, grew up not only playing in Krider World’s Fair Garden but they came of age within the Krider Nursery business. Here are some of their stories: “During the spring rush busy season, many of the nursery employees would work evenings as well as all day long in order to get all of the mail order orders packed and ready to be mailed the next day,” said Karen Wesdorp. “This was especially fun for my siblings Henri, Cecilia and me as we would follow Dad to the nursery after supper and play in the package house, pushing each other on the dolly carts and playing hide and seek in the cellar or storage area where the bins of nursery stock were located (also the three big cold storage rooms where the roses were stored). “The wonderful smell of freshly dug plants was our added enjoyment.” Wesdorp added, “My very first job came at an early age, probably around 10 years old. “It was more like fun than really work. Cecilia and I and Rex and Ross Krider would hurry to the nursery office after school to ‘put-up catalogs.’ “We would have to stuff the catalogs with the order blanks that we had folded in half the night before at home along with a return envelope and then put the catalogs into mailing envelopes. “We would always have contests to see who could finish 100 catalogs first. “An added treat was when my Dad would come into the room where I was working and give me a nickel to put in the box and then I would go to the back room where the old ‘Coke cooler’ was and get a bottle of Dr. Pepper pop.” “Hundreds of thousands of nursery catalogs were mailed out each winter to the customer base,” said Rex Krider. “We spent evenings at home on the living room floor folding the order blanks in half so they would fit into the catalogs. The stack of individually stacked order blanks would be adjacent to the envelopes and then quickly inserted into the catalogs. The final step in this process was to insert the catalogs into the large mailing envelope. “We always had a race to see which of us could finish his or her work first,” said Rex Krider. “Paper cuts were plentiful during these times.” Krider added, “I recall reading that one spring season, (the nursery) received so many orders through the mail that they could not fill them all. Consequently, hundreds of checks had to be returned to the customers.”


“When my (twin brother) Ross and I were about 8-9 years old, Grandpa Krider had us help with a physical inventory of his nursery stock,” said Rex Krider. “He had us take a row at a time and count each evergreen in the field. When we got to 100 we picked up a stone and put it in our pockets. Upon returning to the starting point, we counted the stones to arrive at an accurate ‘physical’ inventory. This ‘employment’ (I don’ even remember if we got paid) kept us ‘out of trouble’ as it were.” Karen Wesdorp added, “During the summer season I would be my Dad’s little shadow following him up and down the rows of young nursery plants as he would run the cultivating machine,” said Karen Wesdorp. “Also when a customer would come to the nursery to buy nursery stock to landscape their home I was fascinated by how my Dad would stand at the big slant top desk and draw a landscaping plan with the names and sizes of plants placed around the house to meet the customer’s desires. “He was truly a talented man, and one of my nephews, my sister Cecilia’s son Eric Zubler, followed in his grandfather’s footsteps to become a landscape architect. “During the summers of our High School and college years, my sister Cecilia and I would always work at the nursery office,” said Karen Wesdorp. “Our job was to record the amount of money a customer had spent on their spring orders on their address file card. When that job was finished, we would type address labels to be used on the fall flyer catalogue. “It was always fun to take a Coke break and talk with the Krider sisters, Beatrice, Frances and Violet, who also worked in the office, about our mutual interests. “My brother Henri’s summer job was, as he says, ‘pulling millions of weeds and hoeing around millions of small plants’ under the hot shining sun.” “The two big work horses pictured on the large sign in Krider Garden were fun to be around,” said Karen Wesdorp. “Harve Cripe took care of them and would hook them up to the old plow to plow the fields around our house. “When it was time for lunch Harve would tie the horses to a tree next to our playhouse in our yard. We would pet the horses’ noses and talk to them. “Then at the end of the work day we would follow Harve and the horses to the barn to watch him unhitch them, and we would walk the horses to the watering trough in the barn. The trough had a spigot that fed ice cold water into it from a spring up in the hills behind the barn. We kept a cup in the barn so that we also could get an ice cold drink. “Today as I look at the Highland Hills subdivision (the hills across the street from Krider Garden) I remember the many, many times we used to sled and toboggan down those hills. What fun that was!” “Sometime around the mid-1920’s a fire broke out and burned the packing house to the ground,” said Rex Krider. “This large building is where the plants were taken from the various storage bins and packed for shipment to all the retail customers. “It also provided an excellent place in which to play “hide and seek” with siblings and friends. 46

“After the fire, a brand new packing house and storage bins were constructed. “The motto above the roof read ‘WE GROW FOR THOSE WHO WANT THE BEST.’” “In the summer the greenhouse gang, of which I was a part, made soft wood cuttings and stuck them in sterilized sand to propagate the various species,” said Rex Krider. “Evergreen cuttings were also made. Softwood cuttings were taken from parent stock in the fields, then gathered into bushel baskets and brought back to the green house, stripped of lower leaves and a 45 degree cut was made at the bottom of each stem. “Cuttings were then stuck inside ‘cold frames,’ which were long rectangular beds with concrete sides. “Upon completion of a frame, visqueen (a brand of polyethylene plastic sheeting) tents with an apex at the top were placed over the frame and irrigation from a mist pipe line within the frame operated on a timer system. “The evergreen cuttings were stuck in one of two greenhouses—one of which had a bench that was in close proximity to the overhead glass. “Either Ross or I got the job of sticking the cuttings while on bended knees and the outside temperatures in the eighties or even nineties. Perspiration flowed freely those days. “Fortunately the other side of the bench was the half that could be reached from the center aisle from a standing position.” “Another summer job entailed hoeing the young plants after they were transplanted from the cutting houses to the fields,” said Rex Krider. “Before they were mature enough to be planted in rows, however, they were planted in approximately six- feet wide beds. These tender transplants needed to be weeded by sitting on very low wooden benches. “This was very taxing on the backs of the workers and the deer flies from the Little Elkhart River area also were a challenge. “The Little Elkhart was the source of our irrigation and the water was pumped through above-ground irrigation pipes. “It was fun to stand up to rest one’s back and pick up a few stones and attempt to ‘sail’ them into a nearby pipe. The resounding sound of stone meeting pipe always irritated the management team. But since our name was Krider, we (as well as our young co-workers) ‘got away with it!’ “The nursery owned a couple pickup trucks, one of which was about a 1950 model,” said Rex Krider. “This is the one my Dad taught me how to drive at an early age. This truck was sometimes needed to load shrubs or small trees after they were dug. My brother Ross, Glenn (an Amish boy) and I would anticipate the truck needing to move up the row and we would race to be the one to drive it forward a small distance. “The nursery owned a gas pump and we knew where the key was kept so we could unlock the pump to fill up the tank. To everyone’s dismay, Ross and I, at a very young age, put a couple hands-full of shelled corn into the gas tank!!”


A Special Thank You The goal of Friends of Middlebury Parks is to not only maintain and preserve this garden park but to share its remarkable story through the publication of this book with you and with future generations. Special thanks to those who have contributed their stories to this book. They are: The Krider Garden Book Committee: • Rex Krider who is a grandson of Vernon Krider, the founder of Krider Nurseries and spent much of his childhood growing up in the garden • Karen Wesdorp who is the daughter of Clarence Wesdorp • John McKee who serves as the president of the Middlebury Park board and has taken a hands-on interest in preserving and promoting Krider World’s Fair Garden through his many volunteer hours working in the garden and in writing and speaking publically about the garden. • Lowell Miller, who grew up in Middlebury and has served as Middlebury’s town marshal, town manager and now serves as a member of the Friends of Middlebury Parks Board. • Gloria Salavarria, a member of the Friends of Middlebury Parks Board, who edited, organized this guidebook and history of the garden through to publication. Also contributing were: • Greg Lawson who has written articles on the history of Krider Garden and the Krider Nurseries that have appeared in Senior Life and other local publications. • The students of Ball State University’s Communications Department who used their technical skills to bring this project into the 21st Century as a downloadable walking tour app and as a book available on website as either an e-book or soft cover book. • And last but not least, thanks to the Crystal Valley Exchange Club and the Friends of Middlebury Parks for their financial support in making this all possible.


Timeline for Krider World’s Fair Garden 1893

Vernon Krider given two acres of land by his father, Samuel. Vernon then planted strawberry and raspberry plants.


First sale – 5,000 raspberry plants sold at $5 per thousand for a total of $250.


Purchased 30 acres of adjoining land and planted more berry plants and grapevines.


Purchased 40 more acres of land.


First catalog printed (4 pages). First mail-order for 5,000 strawberry plants at $2 per thousand


Purchased more land for growing fruit trees and general nursery stock.


Built the first nursery building (20’ x 60’) and added roses to the nursery stock.


Added evergreens and shrubs to the nursery stock.


Added an additional 40’ x 80’ to the nursery building to handle mail order shipments which were hauled by horse and wagon to Goshen to be mailed.


Employed three men year-around and seven additional men during March through May. Purchased first truck.


Products sold entirely through agents and small black and white catalogues.


Vernon Krider incorporated his nursery business which had a capital of $100,000.


A New York Central Railroad switch was laid at the side of the nursery building to be used for unloading railroad cars of evergreen and shrubs. A new 20’ x 60’ greenhouse was built.



Clarence Wesdorp, a nurseryman from Boskoop, Holland was hired as a plant propagator and general superintendent of the nurseries. Added roses, hydrangeas, perennials and apple trees to the nursery stock. Hired 12 to 15 men and purchased four trucks.


Printed first colored catalog, “Glories of the Garden.” Fire destroyed buildings which were then reconstructed in 1926.


Total acreage of Krider Nurseries land now 405 acres.


More than 100 people employed at Krider Nurseries during these peak years of business.


Krider invested $10,000 to create a display garden at the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair – “A Century of Progress” exhibit in order to advertise the wide range of plants and services offered by Krider Nurseries A mailing list of more than 250,000 names and addresses was secured from visitors to the exhibit by the time the fair closed in 1934.


At the closing of the Chicago World’s Fair part of the exhibit was moved to a 2.4 acre plot across the street from Krider Nurseries headquarters in Middlebury, Indiana. The display garden created on this 2.4 acre plot is called “Krider World’s Fair Garden.” 235,000 catalogues were mailed to nearly every city in every state, as well as to several countries.


Krider Nurseries was credited by the nursery trade as the most diversified nursery in the country (growing more varieties of plants than any other nursery in the United States).


The Middlebury Post Office receives a First Class rating due to the amount of shipments made by Krider Nurseries.


Vernon Krider obtained the patent for “Festival—the Thornless Rose” at a cost of $10,000.


Spent $22,000 in postage to ship shrubs, trees and flowers to every U.S. state and to many foreign countries including Siam, South Africa and China.


Vernon Krider dies and his son, Kenneth Krider, becomes President of Krider Nurseries.


Krider Nurseries supplies roses for the wedding of President Nixon’s daughter, Tricia.

1972 1988 1990 50

Roger Krider becomes President of Krider Nurseries. Nursery business sold to Tim and Deb Barwick. Business closed for the last time.


Nursery buildings demolished on October 15. Grant applications were made for restoration of the display garden as Krider Garden.


On March 24, Krider Nurseries stockholders donated the display garden as Krider World’s Fair Garden to the town of Middlebury to be a community park.


Krider World’s Fair Garden restored and the English Tea House was rebuilt. On August 12, Krider World’s Fair Garden was dedicated as a Middlebury Park.


Indiana Historical Bureau registers Krider World’s Fair Garden as an Indiana Historical Site. The historical marker was erected and dedicated on July 14 and Jayco Inc., donated a large cut stone bench to the park. The bench is located by the steps leading to the lower garden.


Completed a two-stage cascading waterfall leading from the upper garden’s mill house to the lower garden in July.


The Middlebury Garden Club installs a memorial bench for Ora and Eleanor Eash, along with a flowering Crab Apple Tree. The lower garden, along with the Greenway bicycle-pedestrian path on the old Pumpkinvine Railroad bed was completed from Wayne Street near the Das Dutchmen Essenhaus to Krider World’s Fair Garden, crossing the Little Elkhart River on the railway trestle bridge and ending at the intersection of York Drive and North Main Street (IN 13). A pavilion was moved from East Park to Krider World’s Fair Garden to serve as a rest stop for those using the Greenway Trail (now a part of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail). Other additions to the park are white pines planted along the trail in memory of Tom Tahara who had worked at Krider Nurseries. The Questers Club of Elkhart built the pergola in the same style and location as the original World’s Fair pergola—next to the pond.


Additional work on the lower garden added an earthen ramp walkway connecting original garden and the Greenway Trail to the lower garden. Installed a new seating area overlooking the lower garden and restored the water wheel house.


Tom Kauffman constructed the Sunrise benches that are copies of the original World’s Fair Sunrise bench. The Quilt Garden bed was added to Krider Garden.


The first Quilt Garden was planted, featuring a Double Wedding Ring pattern in recognition of the many weddings held in Krider Garden.


Celebrated the 75th anniversary of Krider World’s Fair Garden. A new information board donated by the Krider family joins the earlier Wesdorp family information board. The Dutch Windmill from the World’s Fair was repaired and restored. A flagstone overlook next to the Greenway Trail was added to provide visitors with a good overview of the Quilt Garden which was planted in a Maple Leaf pattern in recognition of the maple as the town’s tree. Added rain gardens at the pavilion and the northeast corner of the main parking lot. Friends of Middlebury Parks formed to support the parks and assist in the care and the development of Middlebury Parks. 51


Established a perennial garden along the Greenway trail, across the street from Krider World’s Fair Garden. This year the Quilt Garden was planted in the windmill pattern in recognition of Krider Garden’s Dutch Windmill. The large oval planting bed near the English Tea House was dedicated as the annual “Garden with a Cause” in support of local causes and charities that help improve the lives of people in Middlebury. This year’s garden supported breast cancer awareness.


A statue of Hebe, the Greek goddess of eternal youth, was placed in the original World’s Fair display garden in an effort to restore similar plantings and structures that were in the original garden at the Chicago World’s Fair which had two statues of the Greek classic style. The Garden with a Cause was planted with a yellow ribbon theme recognizing the American military and the Quilt Garden was planted in the Sunrise pattern in recognition of the original Sunrise Bench that was displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair.


The Quilt Garden pattern this year was “Hands All Around” in recognition of volunteers who donate their time to the park and to other causes in Middlebury.


The street leading into the garden was officially named Krider Garden Lane. The annual Quilt Garden this year was planted in a Pumpkinvine pattern to honor the opening of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, a 26-mile rails-to-trails project that connects Goshen to Middlebury to Shipshewana. (The section of the Greenway Trail from Wayne Street through Krider Garden to York Street now is a part of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail.)


This year’s Quilt Garden was the Water Wheel design, after the Mill House, one of Krider Garden’s original features and the Garden with a Cause was planted to recognize those with autism and those who help them. New additions to the lower garden are two new waterfalls descending to a new pond.


A sundial was added to the upper garden’s fountain pool area. The garden at the Chicago World’s Fair also had a sundial.


A gazebo was added to the lower garden waterfall area to provide a place for visitors to sit and enjoy a view of the pond and listen to the sound of the waterfalls. This year’s Quilt Garden “Crossroads” design was chosen to celebrate Indiana’s Bicentennial and the state’s place as the “Crossroads of America.”


The Quilt Garden pattern chosen for this year is “Krider Star point” to celebrate the 10th year of the Elkhart County Quilt Gardens and Krider Garden’s “star” status in the town’s park system.



Walk in the Garden  

Middlebury’s Krider World’s Fair Garden is one of the oldest botanical garden parks in Indiana and the oldest garden park to be found in a s...

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