Reflections on my Oehme van Sweden Garden

by Rosita Trinca
August 2010

I first met Jim in the long azalea lined airstrip of our driveway in 1992. He was immediately a commanding presence; with a sudden and mischievous smile. Within seconds he and Eric Groft (then an associate with Oehme and van Sweden) condemned the driveway. He didn't mince words - and still doesn't.

Simon and I had struggled with the garden that surrounded the 1904 built house on a corner in Greenwich, Ct. The drive seemed to echo the traffic outside and so the suggestion felt right. With broad gestures Jim painted a wild and romantic picture of what the garden could look like. He had an infectious enthusiasm and it all seemed terribly exciting. Down the conversational track backhoes and drainage were mentioned and, it was at this point that, we asked what it all might cost. The figure took me aback; but he responded ... "you've got to live!"

As the garden developed over the years I have often thought over that phrase. It has meant different things at different times. At first I thought it rather flippant; but as I have enjoyed this ever changing garden with its certain "seize the moment" quality I think I know what Jim meant.

I have recently laughed at the turtle that got out of the lily pool to walk to the swimming pool for a swim and then shuffled back; found joy in the choreography of the little birds picking at seeds; watched the watchful blue heron pick off the koi. I have fought some losing battles with storms and weeds; but I have made many friends through the garden. It has added another dimension to living.