There cannot be a garden that doesn't have memories associated with it-of places, people, things, or events that are lodged in the gardener's past. After all, few things are more evocative than smell and taste. Gardens, with their perfumed flowers and flavorsome herbs, often hold some of the most pleasing landmarks to our past. Mary Horvitz understands this. She grew up loving gardens, and as a child, she found the greatest pleasure in being with her father as he gardened.
"I was born in Angola," she says, "and later we moved to the Azores to live with my aunt. Both places were naturally very beautiful, but we had to grow what we ate, so gardening was strictly practical. My father was a committed gardener, and he grew the most wonderful fruit, vegetables, and herbs. That was what I wanted in my own garden."
Just over five years ago, the Horvitzes purchased a quarter-acre lot in Kirkland, near Seattle. The town is popular among people who work in the high-tech industry; the Microsoft campus, where Eric Horvitz leads a research team investigating how aspects of memory can be applied to artificial intelligence, is not far away.
As most people do when undertaking new construction, Eric and Mary started with building the house, but soon changed tack. As he describes it, "We originally focused on the house and had gone ahead with a plan that we honestly weren't terribly excited about. The only thing to do was stop the job. So I did." Canceling construction is not something you do lightly, yet Mary and Eric were convinced there was another, better answer. And they found it with David Pfieffer, a Seattle-based landscape architect with a well-respected reputation for understanding and articulating his clients' needs before they are able to do so themselves.
"Mary and Eric knew that they didn't want a McMansion. And they were equally clear they wanted a garden," recalls Pfieffer, describing his initial briefing. "They wanted a unified, sophisticated house and garden, which meant the design had to have an underlying order, or the whole scheme would just fall apart."
Pfieffer's answer was to site the house high on the steeply sloping lot, and landscaping the garden around the house, identifying the spaces in the garden with the rooms of the house. Thus, the kitchen, dining, and living area form a cohesive unit with the broad terrace, while a tranquil sunken garden relates directly to the master bedroom. Interior and exterior spaces flow in and out of one another with ease and grace to make this a home and garden.