As is true with most designers, we spend a great deal of time planning and refining our gardens, teasing out their subtleties and details. Designs are illustrated and diagramed through a series of graphics, which we use as a form of dialog between our clients and collaborators. These graphics convey design intent and vision and provide a clear understanding of how the fully-realized garden will appear once it’s in the ground.

The graphics are essential to the entire design process, but of particular focus on the ‘bones’ of the garden – the hardscape. Walkways, paving, terraces walls, and other hardscape features structure and define the space. These elements must be drawn acutely and built strictly as drawn.

Plants, however, offer a bit more flexibility. Planning a garden on paper represents only 2 dimensions. To fully create a garden, one must immerse oneself in both land and space that will be the garden.

Our drawings specify every plant we intend to use and include a comprehensive list of their numbers and sizes. But, as we begin to arrange them on-site, subtle changes emerge in response to the garden. The site further informs our designs, using a visual language marked by contrasts in texture and color, positive and negative space, and rhythm and movement. It’s quite common to see design team members staging plants in choreographed tableaus that don’t appear on any of the technical design documents but end up being a highlight of the finished garden.

As OvS’ Founding Principal James van Sweden always said, “Much of the creative work happens at the site.”

It’s How We Work.