The Popes met while Nori, who has degrees in botany and fine arts, taught orcharding at British Columbia’s North Island College. Sandra was working on an all-red garden on her Denman Island homestead at that time and turned to Nori, who also had a nursery, for his red plants.
In the 1980s, the Popes opened a nursery in B.C. that specialized in old-fashioned roses. This led to the pair corresponding with the late British gardening gurus Graham Stuart Thomas and Christopher Lloyd. Nori and Sandra decided to take a European sabbatical in 1986—and their fate was sealed. Through Thomas and Lloyd, the couple came upon Hadspen, a garden that had become neglected and overgrown. They fell in love with its possibilities, and redesigned and nurtured it for 20 years. Now back home on Pender Island, B.C., the Popes are developing a garden and breeding plants, all the while gazing down at the ocean, where their sailboat stands ready to lure them away.
• Use contrasting foliage to create drama
• Using various tones of green is a great way to make a shade garden pop.
• To draw the eye along a path, use one colour in repeated patterns.
• Combine fragrant white plants, such as ‘Margaret Merrill’ rose, double-flowered ‘Alba Plena’ dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis ‘Alba Plena’) and white valerian (Centranthus ruber ‘Albus’), for a romantic evening garden.