by Bryan Darrow | July 01, 2007

Some students of the human condition would tell you it’s all about getting back to the garden, and meeting planners have little cause to object, when the gardens under discussion are as beautiful and versatile as the ones on the following pages. Spanning arid deserts and urban hotels, these lush examples from the United States and Canada are perfect settings for unforgettable events.

Fairmont Olympic Hotel, SeattleThe Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle: In the 450-room Fairmont Olympic Hotel, a 5,400-square-foot venue called, simply, The Garden offers floor-to-ceiling windows, a fountain and, of course, plenty of foliage. The room holds 120 for sit-down dinners or 250 for a reception; 26,000 square feet of meeting space is available in the rest of the hotel. (206) 621-1700;

Cuneo Museum & GardensThe Cuneo Museum & Gardens, Vernon Hills, Ill.:
Tucked away in Vernon Hills, approximately 30 miles northwest of Chicago, the Cuneo Museum & Gardens offers a retreat from the urban. Gorgeous enough to be featured in Julia Roberts’ My Best Friend’s Wedding, the luscious grounds and Venetian-style house/museum maintain an elegant Gilded Age flavor from the period of their founding. The property’s pavilion tent can hold 350 for dinner. (847) 362-3042;

WinterthurWinterthur Museum & Country Estate, Winterthur, Del.: Formerly the home of horticulturist and Americana collector Henry Francis du Pont, the Winterthur Museum & Country Estate is conveniently located halfway between New York City and Washington, D.C. The terrace surrounding the property’s Reflecting Pool, once the family swimming pool, can host an event for 200, while the Copeland Lecture Hall and the Galleries Reception Area can accommodate 330 and 200, respectively. (800) 448-3883;

Desert Botanical GardenDesert Botanical Garden, Phoenix: For the hottest garden venues, look to the desert. Spanning 50 acres, the Desert Botanical Garden hosts a diverse collection of prickly plants and party spaces. Webster Auditorium, with its signature southwestern adobe structure, seats 100 for dinner. Additional options include Ullman Terrace, a tiered outdoor patio that holds 150, and Dorrance Hall, a 4,600-square-foot venue that can seat 300. (480) 941-1225;

Montreal Botanical GardenMontreal Botanical Garden: In a city known for refinement, the Montreal Botanical Garden carries the flower torch. Offering a collection of 22,000 plant species, 10 exhibition greenhouses and approximately 30 thematic gardens, this party planner’s paradise is ripe with possibilities, particularly the Main Exhibition Greenhouse, which can accommodate 225 standing and 70 for sit-down events. Chinese gardens, courtyards and a pavilion also are available for rent. (514) 872-1400;