Landscape architect and LALH advisor James van Sweden, FASLA, died September 20 at his home in Washington, D.C., at age 78.  Along with his partner, Wolfgang Oehme, co-founder of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, van Sweden designed public gardens, parks, memorials, private gardens, and campuses. Legions of landscape architects and home gardeners adopted the firm’s style, which emphasized bold use of idealized meadow plantings. Realized through dramatic stands of grasses and perennials, this approach was sometimes referred to as the New American Garden.

The Garden of Contrasts
The Garden of Contrasts at Cornerstone Sonoma in California. Designed by James van Sweden and partner Sheila Brady. Image from Oehme, van Sweden’s Blog.

Van Sweden’s influence was perhaps most sharply focused through his writing. His best-selling books included Bold, Romantic Gardens; The Artful Garden: Creative Inspiration for Landscape Design; Gardening with Nature; and Architecture in the Garden.

The Trellis Bridge at the Chicago Botanic Garden
The Trellis Bridge at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Image from Oehme, van Sweden’s Blog.

Among van Sweden’s most important built works are the Federal Reserve Gardens and the World War II Memorial (Washington, D.C.), the Gardens of the Great Basin (Chicago Botanic Garden), and the United States Embassy (Kabul).

His innovative and inspiring presence will be deeply missed by his fellow practitioners.