Designer orchestrates harmony in landscapes
By Kalene McCort
Landscape designer Linda Greenberg feels most centered with her hands in the dirt and sun on her back. Once a talent agent and comedy club owner, she now brings joy to people by crafting vibrant outdoor spaces throughout the country. A-listers, from movie stars to politicians, recruit her to transform the exteriors of their homes into wonderlands built for exploration and tranquility. Part Zen master, part therapist; she turns clients’ visions into blooming realities. Her career is one built on hard work, rich soil and a whole lot of ingenuity that never seems to wilt.
“I always found God in the garden,” said Linda Greenberg. “My soul thrives there.”
As a child, her days were spent alongside her sister tending to the vegetables and flowers at the family’s Charlotte, North Carolina, home. Those hours of weed pulling and thorn trimming would plant the seed for a journey of cultivation and creativity.
Satisfying her clients is the number one priority for this go-getter, who doesn’t stop working on a project until complete satisfaction is reached. She speaks of peonies, lilies, roses and azaleas with the sort of admiration a mother would have for her children. Each bud holds potential for this horticulturalist, who makes sure to tap into the essence of each individual she is creating for.
“The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing the genuine reactions of clients when they view a finished project,” said Greenberg. “Some become speechless or emotional, and that’s when I know I’ve reached my goal.”
From multi-acre properties to downtown Tradd Street courtyards, there is no space Greenberg won’t take on. She’s planted olive trees in churchyards and magnolia trees in Buddhist gardens.
Greenberg’s work can be found at country clubs and art museums. Take a stroll down Charleston’s legendary Battery, and you’ll come across her artistry at the Palmer Home. This historic bed-and-breakfast, built in 1848, is often referred to as “The Pink Palace.” In keeping with the theme, Greenberg designed the landscaping so that a pink plant would be in bloom every day of the year.
“I look at the garden as a year-round palette where every ornament plays off each other as if they were a symphony,” said Greenberg. “I keep a simple, classic approach in mind and then build on the eccentricities of the person I’m designing for.”
Paying careful attention to how a space will evolve throughout the seasons is something Greenberg takes into account. Fragrance, form, color and texture are all factored in when crafting a one-of-a-kind garden. Whether it’s engaging your sense of smell with sweetly fragrant tea olives or delighting your eye with a perfectly balanced array of blooms, she strives to always reach that level of wow.
In addition to thriving plant life, Greenberg adds mirrors into many of the subtropical sanctuaries she crafts, to create a space for reflection. Tapping into the principles of Feng Shui, she also incorporates the elements of water and fire into her breathtaking gardens. From a classic birdbath to a stone fire pit, the thoughtful touches she sprinkles in are only added after much consideration.
Creating a balance, that is just as pleasing to the eye as it is to the soul, is what Greenberg aims to accomplish. From the sound of a waterfall’s gentle crash to the way wisteria falls against a wall, all elements create layered landscapes — each with their own story to tell.
“There are certain plants that anchor the garden,” said Greenberg. “If you throw it all together, it will feel chaotic.”
Whether you want an outdoor space reminiscent of Versailles or a den of understated bohemian botanicals, Greenberg is the one for the job. She’s even crafted a masculine cigar lounge for a client seeking an outdoor man cave, complete with fresh bulbs and rugged, earthy charm.
“You really get into people’s lives doing the work I do,” said Greenberg. “Clients become friends. I like knowing that I’ve provided them with a reprieve from the world.”
She considers her projects living, growing works of art — framed by a canopy of treetops or ivy that playfully tiptoes up a wrought iron terrace. In addition to factoring in how the garden will feel to those who journey in, Greenberg also considers how the green spaces will look while being viewed from house windows.
“It’s an energy thing from the time you exit the car to the time you walk to the front door,” said Greenberg. “That flow has to feel like a part of who they are.”
Greenberg, who splits her time between Charlotte and Charleston, is continually inspired by The Holy City’s aesthetic. She recently filmed a TV series where she walks viewers through the many notable homes and gardens of the Lowcountry. Drayton Hall, The Nathaniel Russell House, and Magnolia Plantation & Gardens all make cameos in this series, currently being reviewed by several major TV networks.
As for advice for those looking to spruce up their landscaping, Greenberg suggests starting with a solid irrigation system, fertile soil, and a clear plan.
“Be realistic with your budget,” said Greenberg. “Pinterest is actually a great source for gathering ideas. Factor in the architecture of your home, the style of your neighborhood and be discerning when it comes to purchasing plants so that a natural rhythm can be achieved.”
Knowing some of what she plants will live on after her, she doesn’t take the responsibility of her craft lightly. Sometimes it’s the smaller projects that get the most attention because a vibe has to be conveyed within limited dimensions. Take for instance Greenberg’s window boxes bursting with unfurling spirals of patterned petals — like ladies dressed in their colorful Sunday best.
A Linda Greenberg garden is one where both laughter and cocktails can be shared. It’s a place to let down your guard under the Italian cypress and fan palms.
“Through my work I connect to the earth,” said Greenberg. “Male, female, black, white, young or old, I believe we all have some connectivity to green outdoor spaces.” E