Summerville's Secret Garden

  • Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The children’s secret garden is a “little surprise at the end,” something innkeeper and master gardener Linda Shelbourne says is essential to every garden. Most guests cite the space as their favorite element of Linwood, she said. TAYLOR GRIFFITH/JOURNAL SCENE

Linwood Bed and Breakfast was named one of BedandBreakfast.com's “Top 10 Garden Inns” in the world last week.
And after stepping one foot on the South Palmetto St. property, it's clear why.
Walking onto Linwood soil is like entering a Victorian novel. The property, complete with the historic main home, three cottages, pool and three gardens, is enchanting.
“Linwood has an ethos of peace, and that's something we've worked hard for,” said Linda Shelbourne, who runs the bed and breakfast with her husband, Peter. “As you wander the natural sand paths, there's a sense of sanctuary and peace. And while that comes naturally in a wild, outdoor setting, it has to be created in an urban one, which is where we live.”
In order to create such a retreat, Shelbourne – a Clemson University certified master gardener – explained the property uses hedges and trees to create a border, which in turn creates “a sense of being someplace away from the hustle of our busy lives and world.”
Once beyond the boxwood hedges and pine trees, a viewer can see the other visual and textural elements are expertly designed to appeal to the eye.
Shelbourne combines textures, colors and leaf shapes in her garden design to make the property unique, aesthetically pleasing and relaxing.
But that doesn't mean the gardener doesn't have a few tricks up her sleeve.
“There has to be a rhythm to the design, but then always a focal point at the end. Something that makes you laugh, smile, and takes you by surprise,” she said.
Linwood's guests can find surprises everywhere – garden ornaments, benches, and archways – but according to Shelbourne, their favorite is always the children's secret garden.
Nestled behind a large bush in the larger children's garden, an adult has to hunch down under the narrow, concealed archway to even see the space, let alone enter it. A child-sized tea party awaits, complete with a miniature birdbath and several friendly turtles who've also come for tea.
“A surprise adds to the joy of the garden,” she said.
The main house, which has a rich history and appeal of its own, is beautiful and grand, decorated with antique furniture and family heirlooms. Shelbourne thinks it appeals to people simply because “it's real. This wasn't set up as a bed and breakfast. Those are my sons' rooms that you're staying in; the clutter on the bookshelf is just how people put books back. It's not staged, it's not set up.”
And yet, despite its Victorian charm, Shelbourne says the house doesn't speak to her like the garden does.
“The house doesn't change like the garden so it doesn't call me.”
Taking one look around the property, it's easy to see where the Shelbournes' time goes, and their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Linwood has won several awards during their 13 years operating as a bed and breakfast, including the Journal Scene's Reader's Choice Award for several years, and she said they owe it all to their guests.
“I didn't even know we were up for an award, we never had to apply. Our guests voted for us,” she said with a knowing smile. “It's the gardens. They've brought so many people pleasure.”

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