Location: Wichita, Kansas
Type of Venue: Off-site, garden
Capacity: More than 300 guests
Nearby Accommodations: Hotel at Old Town
The seed for a community horticultural center in Wichita, Kansas, was planted in 1982. But it would take three more years until the first seed would pierce the soil.
In 1985, the birds were chirping and locals stood by as ground was broken on what would become one of Kansas’ most beloved gardens. Botanica opened to the public in 1987 with four gardens and a horticultural library and would soon grow to include the more than 30 themed gardens and exhibits it has today.
In 2011, Botanica added the Downing Children’s Garden to its expansive grounds, creating an interactive space for the young and the young at heart to play, explore and commune with nature. The garden now encompasses more than 18 acres and 4,000 species of native and nonnative plants.
The 30 themed gardens make a great backdrop for meetings and events, where the landscape includes stunning waterfalls, grand fountains, flowing streams and more than 50 sculptures. Groups are free to meet in the outdoor beauty of the gardens, but Botanica also offers four main indoor spaces from which meeting groups can choose while holding events on the property, from intimate gatherings to functions for up to 300 people.
Botanica is open throughout the year, thus offering visitors a chance to see the changes that take place in the different gardens each season, from the 50,000 tulips and 120,000 daffodils that bloom each spring to the 20,000 annuals that paint the gardens during the warm summer months. Visitors from all over come to stroll through the gardens or take part in any of the various community events and programs Botanica puts on throughout the year.
Botanica has grown to become a fixture in the community, where local families and foreigners alike come for teatime in the garden or storytime among the flowers, using the natural beauty to connect people from many different backgrounds. The gardens are a lovely choice for groups looking to host memorable meetings in a natural landscape.
Along with the 18 acres of sprawling gardens, Botanica offers four dedicated event spaces throughout the property for groups to rent for events and meetings. The Lotus Hall can hold up to 200 guests and features high arched ceilings with a stunning window and skylight as the centerpiece. The Weidenbach Room is able to seat 40 guests maximum, with a large stone fireplace to keep things cozy even in the cooler months. The Terrace Room is the largest space on property, capable of holding up to 300 guests, with drop-down screens and full audiovisual equipment available. The Pavilion can seat 80 guests comfortably and offers views extending over the gorgeous gardens beyond.
Botanica operates an open catering policy, allowing groups and planners to choose their own favorite caterers or even supply the food and beverage on their own. Dining possibilities at the gardens could include a formal sit-down dinner with food catered from a local Kansas caterer or could be as simple as a picnic lunch to break up the monotony of morning meetings and allow guests some fresh air in a nontraditional setting. Groups wanting to serve alcohol at their events are able to do so if they bring their own and let their events coordinator know about the beverages beforehand.
During free hours in between or before and after meetings, groups are welcome to visit the 30 gardens, including the Children’s Garden, the Children’s Library, the Butterfly House, the Chinese Garden, the Garden Café or the brand-new Carousel Gardens. Docents are available with advanced notice to give guests a more detailed look at the intricacies that make Botanica such a special place. Botanica’s on-site beehive has become a popular attraction for groups as well. Event planners can arrange an experience that will have everyone buzzing with excitement on their way home.
The donations of Paula and Barry Downing, among other donors and artists, made the remarkable Downing Children’s Garden a reality. The garden opened in 2011 as an educational and exciting place for families to enjoy and appreciate the natural world together. The Monster Woods are popular for adventurous kids, while the raised beds on the farm offer the chance for little farmers to get their hands dirty and learn about how plants grow. The garden also has a giant tree with a treehouse for climbing, as well as an enchanted glen for storytelling and a musical maze.