September 23, 2004
James van Sweden at Convocation Hall

The internationally renowned landscape designer James van Sweden presents a special photographic tour of exquisite gardens on November 19 at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall.

“Art belongs in the garden” is the topic of Mr. van Sweden’s talk, which is based on his most recent book entitled, Architecture in the Garden. The seminar will touch on art’s essential aesthetic role in the garden and how designers, gardeners and homeowners can be inspired by sculptures and paintings, and how art can be integrated into a design. Ideas for paving, pathways, bridges and fields of colour can come from many eras and styles.

Together with his business partner Wolfgang Oehme, Mr. van Sweden is hailed as the father of “the New American Garden”, a design philosophy that reflects the year-round beauty of the natural landscape. Mr. van Sweden describes the style as "gardens of freedom and ease, where wildlife, plant life and human life coexist in harmony."

“This team is setting a North American landscape tradition,” says Caroline de Vries, president of the Toronto Chapter of Landscape Ontario.

Mr. van Sweden worked as an urban planner and for a private landscape architecture firm before forming his own firm Oehme, van Sweden & Associates in 1975. Gardens designed by Oehme, van Sweden allow plants to seek a natural course, resulting in layered masses of foliage that welcome change seasonally. The style is a basic alternative to the typical North American garden scene – more relaxed, less like a formula and more sympathetic to the environment.

The built elements of the New American Garden share importance equally with the plants. Carefully designed walls, terraces, steps and other “hardscape” features complement the surrounding “softscape”. In his talk, Mr. van Sweden will focus on these elements that make up the backbone of a well-designed garden. By following his practical advice, gardeners can apply his style to their own landscape.

Van Sweden is responsible for designing the World War II memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the gardens of the Great Basin at the Chicago Botanic Garden as well as many private residences. Oprah Winfrey chose James van Sweden to design the grounds of her estate.
Mr. van Sweden's multidisciplinary design talents encompass architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. He is the author of distinguished books about gardening, a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and recipient of many prestigious awards.

Proceeds from Mr. van Sweden’s talk will directly benefit the Toronto Botanical Garden
Book your tickets now!
Presented by the Landscape Ontario Toronto Chapter and Canada Blooms, this lecture is open to all gardening enthusiasts. It takes place at Convocation Hall, University of Toronto campus on Friday, November 19 at 7 p.m. Tickets to this special presentation are available from the Canada Blooms office for $25 each. Call 416-447-8655 to order, or visit
Promotional partners include Toronto Botanical Garden and The Ontario Association of Landscape Architects.