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Landscape architect James van Sweden keeps few secrets. It’s not enough that he and Wolfgang Oehme—his partner in their Capitol Hill-based practice, Oehme, van Sweden & Associates Inc.—give away the better part of their signature recipes in gardens such as those found around the International Center in Northwest D.C. (adjacent to Intelsat’s headquarters), at National Airport, and at Francis Scott Key Park in Georgetown. Their books, such as Bold Romantic Gardens, literally draw you pictures of how they make their marks and invite you to try them yourself. You’ll know an Oehme/van Sweden landscape by its drifts and drifts of large grasses, sedum, joe-pye weed, and heavenly bamboo, among other species, abutting the discriminating placement of bald cypress, witch hazel, Foster’s holly, or Kousa dogwood. This list is by no means complete: Oehme and van Sweden have rehabilitated more kinds of snubbed plants (don’t go calling that rudbeckia a “roadside flower” with scorn) than this page can fairly catalog. And in doing so, they have also opened our eyes to the continuing wonders of nature throughout the year by the simplest means, such as leaving the dried seed heads on flowers in the fall and planting to emphasize the beauty of trunks and limbs in the winter. And during those seasons when you can’t pay for a drop of rain, their gardens remain nearly as forgiving as ever. Take advantage of van Sweden’s generosity when he speaks tonight at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 30, at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $14. For reservations call (202) 272-2448. (Bradford McKee)