Bold Romantic Gardens

Federal Reserve Board Garden



Oehme, van Sweden & Associates
James van Sweden

The first public iteration of the New American Garden came in 1977 with Oehme, van Sweden’s first major commission, a public garden atop an underground parking garage. The original garden by George Patton was largely destroyed during a severe winter. David Lilly, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, championed the hiring of the two. As van Sweden later wrote in Gardening with Nature: “Little did [Lilly] know that our ‘office’ at the time was a drafting table in a bedroom of my townhouse and an aging Volkswagen Squareback stocked with mulch, tools, and potted shrubs.” [1]

[1] James Van Sweden, Gardening with Nature (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2003), 144.


In those early days, the firm relied primarily on residential projects. Few commercial clients at the time were interested in the maintenance and special qualities of these fine gardens. The Federal Reserve was one of those rare exceptions.

Sunny Scully Alsup


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  • 20th St. and Constitution Avenue, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20551

Bold Romantic Gardens, Ornamental Grasses and Process Architecture No. 130. see resources

The Federal Reserve Board website does has a history of the facility’s architecture, but there is no mention of the landscape architecture or of Oehme and van Sweden.

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The Photographers

Amy Lamb (American, b. 1944)
Lamb grew up in Birmingham, Michigan. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Ph.D. in biology and a passion for the scientific beauty of the natural world. Lamb creates close-up images of flowers and fruit to create a dialogue between the viewer and the natural world.

Roger Foley (American, b. 1951)
Foley earned a B.A. in art from the University of Notre Dame with a concentration in photography. He published his first solo book, A Clearing in the Woods: Creating Contemporary Gardens in 2009, and his work has won top honors from the Garden Writers Association. His photography can be found in hundreds of books, and his commercial work has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and websites. He conducts workshops and frequently lectures for various groups, including the American Horticultural Society, and the Garden Club of America.