Nothing says Portland like a beautiful, lush garden and our brief Northwest summers are the most spectacular in the world. (Why else would we web-footers tolerate months of drizzle and gray?) So if you’re hosting an event in the next few months, why not take advantage of the sunshine with a garden party? Open landscapes provide natural gathering spots and scattered niches, such as benches and gazebos, encourage intimate conversation. Plus a garden’s scenic beauty requires little to no additional decor.
There are special considerations when planning any outdoor event, however. Many garden venues, for example, do not have kitchen facilities, so leave room in your budget for grills, hot boxes, ovens, and a kitchen tent. Depending on your menu, these can add an additional $200 to $1500 to your event costs. You might also consider tenting for your guests if there is no natural shade, and if there is, will your guest be comfortable with the stray leaf in the water? Wind + trees = natural debris!
* * *
Lan Su Chinese Garden
Lan Su Chinese Garden is an oasis located in the heart of Old-Town Portland. Treasures include meandering cobblestone paths, picturesque pavilions, a teahouse, a pond and cascading waterfall. The flora changes throughout the season. Right now we’re loving the peonies but the water lilies bloom in July and August. Lan Su is too unique to miss. Things to know about Lan Su: It’s open to events after public hours and, due to the delicate nature of the stone, allows only white wine, beer, sake, and soft drinks to be served at events. Capacity: up to 125 seated, 300 standing
Abiqua Country Estate
Nestled in the foothills of the Cascades, Abiqua Country Estate offers 4 ceremony spaces on their 100-acre property. The venue highlight is The Island that can accommodate wedding ceremonies of up to 150 guests, but they also offer 3 landscaped lawns (one is very woodsy). Abiqua has about 40 movable potted flower arrangements that can be placed around your event space. Also an equestrian boarding center, your guests are welcome to visit the stable. Things to know about Abiqua: There are no indoor spaces or fixed restrooms, but portable restrooms are included in the facility rental and the house is available to the wedding party. Additional lighting is recommended for evening events. Capacity: 400
Leach Botanical Garden
The 16-acre Leach Botanical Garden has over 2,000 species of plants, including one variety that is over 2,000 years old! Leach is great for more intimate parties and weddings and has 2 areas reserved for events: the newly redesigned East Terrace and a Manor House with warm wood tones, french doors, fireplace, and piano. The gardens also feature miles of walking trails, perfect for afternoon strolls. Things to know about Leach: Private bride’s and groom’s rooms are available. The gardens are intersected by Johnson Creek. Music is limited to soft background music. No amplified music or deejays allowed. Capacity: 85 max
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
The only public park to make the list, the Crystal Spring Rhododendron Garden is conveniently located in Eastmoreland. In 7 acres, they offer thousands of bright blooms, a spring-fed lake, two waterfalls, and a gorgeous view of the sun setting over the West Hills. They proved 2 areas dedicated to events, the picturesque Victorian Garden for banquets up to 125 and their larger Meadow. Things to know about the Rhododendron Garden: The Victorian Garden does not have drive-up access for your vendors. Bird-lovers, this is a hot-spot for fowl — home to 94 species. Capacity: 350+
* * *
As always, thank you to the talented photographers who allow us to showcase their work:
Erin Grace Photography (Lan Su Chinese Garden), Barrie Brewer Photography (Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden)