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Earlier this fall, Oehme van Sweden Principal Eric Groft had the pleasure of speaking at Guild Hall in East Hampton as part of the Garden as Art: Designers Choice talk and garden tour. For this event, Eric was honored to be introduced by longstanding client (and very good friend) Barbara Slifka. Barbara gave a truly moving introduction of Eric, which we are priveleged to be able to share here:

This is going to be a very personal introduction. You can read all about Eric’s academic and professional background in your programs. I have known Eric for about 25 years. We first met when he was the Project Manager on my Sagaponack beach house, and since then we have worked on two other projects—one in New York and another again in Sagaponack. We have also become good friends.

Working with Eric – and Jim van Sweden and Wolfgang Oehme (the founding partners of Oehme van Sweden) – has been a very educational experience. It was as though someone had lifted a curtain in front of me and I was seeing gardens for the first time. Eric has a truly trained and professional eye. When he is involved on a project, it is the total effect he is interested in, and not just plants or flowers or trees, but the whole landscape. This includes the hardscape – the fences, the paths, the swimming pool, the driveway, the scale of the pots. All of this is important, and all the details matter, because they all add up to the final vision.

Working with Eric, I was exposed to a whole new way of looking at plants – his sense of scale, his interest in texture, his interest in shapes, and his interest in colors (all year long – winter can be beautiful!). All of a sudden I was noticing movement, the way plants flow and interact with each other, and the volume of plants needed to make a statement. For me, being exposed to Eric has brought a wonderful new dimension to my life. I love formal gardens, but once exposed to Eric’s special taste and talent, I hope your eye and personal taste will change forever.

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On Saturday, August 28, Oehme van Sweden Principal Eric Groft participated in the “Garden as Art: Designers Choice” talk and tour in East Hampton, New York. The event, sponsored by Guild Hall in East Hampton, featured gardens selected by prominent East End garden designers. The Rifkind garden in Amagansett, designed by Mr. Groft for Oehme van Sweden, was one of six residential gardens showcased on the tour.

Guild Hall

Guild Hall, East Hampton New York

The Garden as Art tour is an annual event that has become a weekend-long celebration of gardening in the Hamptons. This year, the festivities included a pre-tour cocktail party on Friday night at a the home of MaryJane Brocks in East Hampton; a continental breakfast at Guild Hall on Saturday morning featuring two illustrated lectures—“Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” by Mr. Groft and “A Botanic Garden by Design” by Brooklyn Botanic Garden President Scott Medbury; as well as a luncheon at the waterfront home and garden of Dorian and Gary Fuhrman on Hook Pond, in East Hamtpon on Saturday afternoon.

Barbara Slifka

Barbara Slifka Introducing Eric Groft's Lecture

Oehme, van Sweden has undertaken a number of landscape architecture projects in the Hamptons spanning the past several decades. The Rifkind garden was designed by Eric Groft in 1992 and the objective was to capture the feeling of farmland turned to meadow. The naturalistic style of design used in the project has stood the test of time well, and 20 years later, the homeowners continue to enjoy the beauty of their garden.

Eric Groft

Eric Groft giving his "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow" Lecture

* All photographs courtesy of the East Hampton Star

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