Botanic Garden Benefit Gets International Decor

By Jenny Berg December 6, 2010, 5:58 PM EST

Photo: Krista Wortendyke

Chicago Botanic Garden's "All Aboard the Wonderland Express"
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On December 2, the Chicago Botanic Garden hosted its annual “All Aboard! Wonderland Express” dinner for 370 guests. The woman's board of the Chicago Horticultural Society planned the holiday-themed event, which included cocktails amid an indoor miniature train display and dinner in one of three themed rooms. Mary Boyer served as chair.

Marina Birch of Birch Design Studios developed a decor scheme. “Our directive was to come up with three gardens of the world that were each distinct settings,” said Birch. “Initially, I wanted to choose three imaginary destinations, because I thought that would better enable me to suspend reality and transport guests somewhere fantastic. But as I thought more about it, I realized the real challenge was to deliver three unique environments.” Birch and her team ultimately designed the rooms based on a European garden, a Japanese garden, and a Moroccan garden.

Privet hedges and a fountain filled with moss balls and white roses filled the European garden room. Tables followed a geometrical arrangement inspired by formal landscape design, and moss and miniature rose topiaries topped each table. On the wall, Frost projected images of garden vistas and a chateau.

In the Japanese garden room, centerpieces held bamboo, pink orchids, river rocks, and bonsai-like trees. Projections of branches illuminated the walls, and bamboo trees stood in each corner. Linen overlays from Tabletoppers bore patterns inspired by Asian ink paintings.

Midnight blue drapes, hanging lanterns, and mosaic-covered votives decorated the Moroccan garden room. Patterns that were reminiscent of tile work covered the linens on each table, and upended vessels filled with flowers and fruits served as centerpieces. Birch and her team also created three separate mixes of music to enhance the theme in each room.

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