Want your guests to stop and smell the roses? Plan an event in a garden. The Northwest is blooming with options for event planners.
AINSWORTH HOUSE & GARDENS
Oregon City, Oregon
A 200-plus-year-old ponderosa pine serves as the feature attraction at Ainsworth House & Gardens. The tree sits on a lush lawn, “surrounded by beds of plants and trees, providing both privacy and color, with everything from various bamboos to different clematis, from roses and dahlias to hydrangeas and azaleas,” says Kevin Yell, managing partner.
Along the west side of the property is a charming thicket of black locust trees threaded with paths and bursting with undergrowth, such as rhododendrons, ferns and various other evergreen shrubs. In the spring, daffodils and bluebells make an appearance as well. “North of this,” says Yell, “is the Corner Lawn, around which more than 150 peony plants are planted—making it a popular place for photographs in May—as well as a series of evergreens, all originally purchased as living Christmas trees before being replanted.”
In the center of the main driveway, separate from the parking lot, is a traditional English rose garden quartered by miniature boxwoods and edged with a variety of hardy fuchsias. Says Yell: “At each side is an arch on which grow both spring- and winter-blooming clematis, ensuring that there’s something in flower every month of the year somewhere in the garden.”
An indoor facility can be separated into three areas: the Garden Room, which can accommodate as many as 36 guests both for a seated dinner and theater-style; the Fireside Room, which can host up to 70 guests theaterstyle; and the Conservatory, which can accommodate up to 80 guests theater-style. Any combination of those three rooms can host up to 125 guests. You can also host a cocktail party in the shadow of the ponderosa pine.
ROCK CREEK GARDENS
Rock Creek Gardens is a perfect blend of Pacific Northwest and English garden landscapes. “We offer a secluded, timeless location for events,” says Rock Creek’s director of marketing and sales Nicole Quinn. “We have breathtaking views of Mount Rainier and a waterfall in the gardens, which are on two levels. We’re known for our hedging and topiaries, the latter of which are trimmed to spiral upwards.”
Not only is Rock Creek Gardens one of the largest garden venues in Washington state, but it is also one of the most secluded, thanks to the 10 acres of trees that surround it. “It gives you a nice break from the city life, which is what’s so special about it,” Quinn says.
Right in the heart of the lower-level gardens is a tented area that can host up to 300 guests seated. Planners can close the tent’s sides for inclement weather. The Rock Creek Gardens House can host up to 35 guests seated or 40 standing. An attached patio, which can be tented, increases the seating capacity to 70 and the standing capacity to 100. Groups must choose one of four preferred caterers.
ALASK A BOTANICAL GARDEN
Alaska Botanical Garden is a public garden dedicated to education, recreation and science. “Our location is quite a bit different than other public botanical gardens,” says Will Criner, gardens and facilities manager. “We’re located in an area of undeveloped boreal forest. So there’s an interesting aesthetic in our garden. ... We have a nice rock garden with a diverse collection of plants, including many alpine plants, and we also have a nice collection of mini Himalayan poppies.”
An event space in the greenhouse can accommodate up to 20 guests seated and up to 40 standing. All six outdoor event spaces have spectacular views of the gardens, including a lawn area that can be tented. The largest space is the rock garden, which can host up to 100 guests seated and up to 200 standing. The smallest is the herb garden, which can accommodate up to 20 guests seated and up to 40 standing. Groups can choose from a list of approved caterers.
IDAHO BOTANICAL GARDEN
Thirty-plus acres of beautiful outdoor landscape—with everything from a traditional English-style garden space and rose gardens to a meditation garden and an herb garden— are what you’ll discover at Idaho Botanical Garden. There is even a children’s adventure garden. “Our meditation garden is very popular,” says Event Director Adan Callsen. “It’s a Zen-oriented space with lots of Asian plants, such as bamboo. Some guests even do yoga there. We’re a one-of-a-kind outdoor botanical garden. There’s nothing else like it in the state.”
An indoor event space can host up to 50 guests classroom-style. An outdoor plaza area can host up to 250 guests seated and up to 500 standing. Of the 11 garden event spaces, the largest is the meditation garden area, which can also host up to 250 guests seated and up to 500 standing. The smallest garden space is the English garden, which can host up to 125 guests seated and up to 200 standing. Groups must provide a caterer.