Garden meetings can plant the seeds for something great.
These elegant and enriching environments surround attendees with sunshine, fresh air and brightly colored blooms. It’s the ideal setting to refresh the spirit and boost creativity. In addition to being excellent sites for productive meetings, they’re also great for elegant receptions and banquets.
For a gorgeous outdoor event adorned with nature’s best décor, planners should check out these awe-inspiring gardens across the country.
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Delray Beach, Florida
Japanese gardens are renowned for their elegance, minimalist design and emphasis on harmony between natural elements. At the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida, planners will find a 16-acre Japanese Garden containing such signature components as clean lines, water features and a curved bridge, as well as plants and architecture native to Japan. The accompanying museum teaches visitors about the connections between South Florida and Japan and celebrates Japanese culture.
“Imagine having an authentic Japanese-style garden for a special event without the price tag of traveling overseas,” said Sally Shorr, a spokesperson for Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.
Six distinct gardens inspired by significant gardens in Japan can be found on the grounds, as well as an extensive collection of bonsai trees, a private lake and waterfalls. The museum features several indoor and outdoor spaces for events. The 2,700-square-foot interior lobby can seat up to 150 guests or up to 250 for a reception, and the museum’s theater provides seating for up to 224 guests for lectures or presentations. The outdoor terrace is 7,000 square feet and fits 150 for a banquet or 350 for a reception. A tented area on the grounds can seat up to 400 for larger events. Catering is provided by the Cornell Café, the museum’s restaurant.
In between Salem and Oregon’s coast, Navarra Gardens is located just outside the small town of Willamina. It’s not far from some of Oregon’s biggest attractions, like the city of Portland, the Willamette Valley wine country and the state’s scenic beaches. These gardens contain the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest, including towering trees, a river and native blooms. These beautiful natural features bring a sense of magic to any meeting, reception or evening event.
Navarra Gardens has indoor packages for groups ranging from 30 to 50. They can use the 4,200-square-foot event center with barn doors on either end, which can be opened for views of the river and a waterfall. The gardens’ riverside packages can accommodate a greater range of attendees. There’s a covered outdoor banquet area, a beach area with river access, a riverside stage and a sun-dappled lawn perfect for outdoor banquets or receptions. In addition to being surrounded by a grove of mature oak trees, the gardens feature a wide variety of blooming Oregon wildflowers.
The gardens provide beautiful outdoor décor, from tables and bar top areas to lanterns. Planners can choose from using the venue’s on-site catering or hiring caterers of their choice. The venue is equipped with a projector and Wi-Fi, as well as a dance floor, a stereo and even a karaoke machine.
The International Peace Garden
Dunseith, North Dakota
The International Peace Garden was designed to be a space where peace and international cooperation could prevail; that’s why it rests directly on the border between North Dakota and Canada. It’s an unusual location to meet because attendees can have one foot in the U.S. and one in Canada, but that distinct opportunity is also a major draw in addition to the beautifully crafted gardens and year-round event space. With 60,000-85,000 annual florae planted in the span of five weeks, an 18-foot working floral clock, several lakes and one of North America’s largest indoor cacti and succulent collections, the International Peace Garden is full of wonders that can inspire and delight attendees.
“You’ll never find another place like this internationally,” said Jennifer Beard, visitor services manager at the International Peace Garden. “That makes it unique and diverse.”
The Burdick Center for the Performing Arts is a large theater venue with space for up to 500 attendees that’s perfect for presentations, lectures and performances. The Errick Willis Pavilion has two levels with views of Lake Stormon, and each level can seat 100 guests. The Historic Lodge, an atmospheric log-cabin-style building constructed with stone and warm-toned wood, boasts a large stone fireplace on one end and a full kitchen. The space is excellent for banquets, and the main hall can seat 100-125, while the dining room can accommodate an additional 70 guests.
The Formal Garden has an upper and lower terrace for rent for an outdoor meeting or event, while the Conservatory has both a spacious central area and a conference room. Additional options for meetings include picnic shelters on the grounds and, for larger events, the Masonic Auditorium.
Amarillo Botanical Gardens
Amarillo, Texas, was named for its yellow soil and riverbanks. Like many other cities in the region, it’s a dusty desert city, which makes the colorful Amarillo Botanical Gardens a bit of a rare find.
“We are green the vast majority of the year,” said Mason Whiteside, event and wedding coordinator at Amarillo Botanical Gardens. “We provide an oasis here in West Texas where there’s not always a diversity of plant life and color.”
One of the property’s indoor spaces, the Event Room, has a capacity of 40 and is great for smaller meetings such as educational programs. Adjacent to the Event Room is the Sybil B. Harrington Gallery, a room enclosed with glass on three sides, offering excellent views of the gardens. The gallery can accommodate up to 80. The largest indoor space is an adaptable ballroom that can seat up to 216 and has high ceilings and a grand chandelier.
The entrance patio at Amarillo Botanical Gardens is one of the venue’s smaller outdoor spaces, with a capacity of 80 attendees, but its canopy of trees twinkling with lights is guaranteed to bring life to any reception or event held there. The Grand Wedding Lawn, situated under mature elm and oak trees can seat up to 300, while the Amphitheater can seat 320 with tables or 600 without. The Conservatory Atrium, a tropical plant conservatory that maintains a temperate environment year-round, is excellent for small winter meetings. There’s also a terrace with a covered patio and garden views with space for up to 80 attendees.
Kingwood Center Gardens
The home of Ohio business tycoon Charles Kelley King, Kingwood Center Gardens in Mansfield, Ohio, is a 47-acre estate featuring a lavish home and several gardens. These include the Allée, a vista with a canopy of trees in front of Kingwood Hall; a display greenhouse with tropical and warm-weather plants; a perennial garden; King’s formal gardens, designed during the construction of the house; a brick-paved terrace garden; a woodland garden full of shade-loving plants; and an herb and rose garden. Guests of meetings, receptions and banquets get free admission to the gardens and grounds.
Several rooms on the property are available for rent. The recently renovated Carriage House has five doors and a private patio garden to transform the venue into an indoor-outdoor setting that can seat up to 140 attendees. It also comes with a full catering kitchen and audiovisual system. The King Ballroom is a spacious option with garden views and access to a terrace; it also features air walls that can divide the room in half for breakout sessions. Smaller rooms for meetings include the Charles Room and the Kelley Room.
Catering and alcohol service can be provided by Buehler’s Fresh Foods, although planners can select an alternate caterer for a fee.