Director of Hospitality Services
Overlake Hospital Medical Center, Bellevue, Wash.
Born in: Norwich, N.Y.
Lives in: Seattle
Education: A.A.S. in food management from Keystone College in La Plume, Pa.
For Mark Eggleston, working on his landscape is a welcome relief after a day at work. “It’s very important to go outside with a glass of wine and enjoy the fruits of my labor, so to speak,” Eggleston says. From gnomes to bridges and dry riverbeds, Eggleston says designing his landscape is an evolving passion.
“I spend countless hours developing and working on my own landscape. I think it does the same thing that animals can do; it lowers your blood pressure and it’s a peaceful environment. I’ve redone my entire yard multiple times because I think that landscape is an ever-changing element. If you look at something for too long it becomes stagnant or you don’t see it at all. If you change it, it brings out a new interest.
It’s the type of thing that it is never done. You are constantly adding or taking away something, so it is always evolving. For me, after working a long day at the hospital, having a glass of wine and being around my garden is one of the best parts of my day. I built trails all around the garden so that you can experience all of it without having to get in the muck.
I’ve done a lot of sustainable gardening. The plants are placed in a way so that they don’t require as much water and they are still very aesthetically pleasing to look at. You don’t want everything to be flat. I’ve removed all of what people would call traditional grass in my front yard. I’ve put in native grasses to incorporate an environment where there is a lot less water needed to maintain that.
I incorporate different materials into the landscape, such as art. The art doesn’t have to be something that is totally functional. It can be something that moves you in some way.
Recently, I pulled out some trees and put in hardscape. I put in a fire pit. I think a lot of the stuff that is centered around feng shui or Japanese gardens is really important. A lot of that has to do with the way the walkways are formed to the entrance of the house and the energy flow. I have a dry riverbed, and how that is curved in the landscape is important in terms of how the energy flows. The entrance is supposed to push energy away from the house, so if you have obstructions or barriers, that in Chinese culture can bring you bad luck. There is a belief that if you have a turtle on the right side of your door as you are facing away from the house that will bring you good luck. I have a lot of those types of elements built into the landscape. Running water is important. I have a lot of bird feeders, so I have a lot of native birds that come and spend time there. I have taken a few classes in feng shui, but a lot of it is just what makes me feel good.
My rule of thumb is I’m never afraid to change something if I don’t like it. If you plant something you don’t like or it dies or served its time, you should change it. You don’t need to sit there and suffer with it. For example, I put up an entire fence and a whole different array of plants. I spent about three months looking at it and decided it just wasn’t working for me. I didn’t feel good when I looked at it. When you think about your landscape, it needs to be something that you want to spend time looking at. It’s like reading a book or looking at a piece of art; it should cause some kind of a feeling inside of you. If it causes a negative feeling then there is something wrong. So I took it all out. It led from one piece to another, and eventually I ended up redoing the entire yard.
My favorite part is the part that I did last year. I put in a couple of dry riverbeds with grasses that look like beach grasses. I have a bridge that goes over the river rock and I have a lot of whimsical features built into it like a gnome and a troll.”