This Fancy Charleston Garden Is a Private Oasis in the Heart of the City

A pair of talented Charleston textile designers have turned a tucked-away downtown garden into a pretty, sophisticated refuge.

January 15, 2020

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

A Secret Garden

You'd never guess this stunning, lush, green oasis is located right off a busy Charleston street frequented by camera-wielding tourists. But homeowners and fabric designers Lynda and David Gilkeson have created something special, a place to entertain and even house guests in an adorable outbuilding that makes the space feel like an island resort.

View to a Thrill

Creeping Jenny, ferns and caladium continue the subtle pink and black theme of this garden where wooden window boxes, gates and fences are painted in a glossy ebony paint.

Water World

An elegant water feature is bookended by perfectly symmetrical urns which create a kind of stage set that frames this charming garden statue.

Pretty in Pink

Mandevilla are pretty patio plants that work well in tropical gardens.

Open Invitation

Open French doors beckon, inspiring guests to move through this garden and explore the elegant guest cottage at the rear of the space.

Taste of the Tropics

Charleston's steamy, lush climate adds to the city's romance and allows exotic plants like this banana tree to thrive there.

Details That Make the Difference

Linking the home and its garden and blurring the line between the two is part of what makes this garden design so successful. Details like the bountiful window box filled with flowers and plants and the raised beds close to the home beautifully connect interior and exterior and give this space its unique mix of elegance and coziness.

Woodsy Mantel

Think of your garden as an extension of your home and you will feel liberated to bring indoor design elements outside. Here, a mirror on a stone shelf gives the look of a mantel. Mirrors are also great ways to create the illusion of more space both indoors and out.

Nature + Culture

The festive shades of this Charleston couple's upholstery line perfectly complement the flowers and greenery in their garden.

Green Goddess

Beyond the main garden room immediately outside the Gilkeson's back door is this large outdoor space where plenty of comfortable outdoor furniture upholstered with the couple's custom line of fabric welcomes guests.

An Escape in the City

This hidden garden is a peaceful oasis in Charleston's downtown. It's also a lovely place for the Gilkeson's guests to wake up. The guest quarters, which are situated beyond the garden, feature a small living area, kitchen and other amenities that afford visitors both privacy and an incredible view.

Black Accents

Though white is the more usual color for garden trellises, fences and window boxes, black gates and window boxes in this Charleston garden give a more sophisticated look and don't tend to show wear and tear as quickly as white.

Garden Rooms

The garden is divided via gates and brick walls covered in creeping fig into several distinct rooms that help make the space feel like a special secret to explore. The neat, clean brick surface makes the garden conducive to entertaining.

Formal Attire

Impatiens and a topiaried ligustrum define this formal garden which is given a sense of order and neatness with the brick raised bed and boxwoods that help define the plantings.

Overarching View

The brick archway in this Charleston garden defines each garden room and beautifully frames the view.

Bright Idea

Vibrant heuchera plants in the table container and mandevilla in the oversized container complement the punchy fabrics on outdoor furniture here. Try coordinating fabrics, rugs and containers — as well as plants — outdoors to make a design statement.

Design Strategy

When you design outdoors you can use plants and trees as your statement decor. The Gilkesons wisely worked with the existing trees including a gorgeous crape myrtle which provides a striking, natural punctuation point in the walled garden. You can tell designers are at work here: The fabric colors on outdoor furniture perfectly coordinate with the caladium in a vibrant blue pot.

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