Ken Popove of Chilliwack, B.C.
Story and photos by Dorothy Dobbie
When you are in politics, especially civic politics, your life is hardly your own. So it is for the mayor of Chilliwack, BC, Ken Popove. But he has a special elixir that keeps him energized and able to deal with everything that is thrown his way: Ken Popove gardens!
This is no idle pastime. Ken has turned his property into a green paradise complete with a pool and lots of leafy lounging places. He even has a greenhouse, his secret retreat when the pressures of office demand time for reflection. There is no better place to set the mind in action than greenspaces and a garden. Indeed, studies have shown that the mind works better during and after exposure to nature, among trees and greenery.
Ken’s skill as a gardener is painted in his front yard where he has created a forested space relying heavily on shade plants with a mosaic of exotic West Coast shrubs and trees such as the
lovely weeping Alaska cedar, Japanese maples, and dwarf chartreuse cedars that look like sunshine peeking out from under the larger shrubs. He has an eye for colour and texture, not only in plants but in his choice of furnishings. As an example, on the wall of his greenhouse, he has two wall planters painted with a metallic purple and filled with wine-coloured oxalis, an
imitation-worthy pairing. He is not just a gardener in theory. His work is evident in the lower planter which doubles as a hanger for a pair of pruners stuck in the corner. Other planters
contain vines spilling onto the natural growth. Tall containers are made even taller with slender upright plants.
Ken also has a fondness for ornamental surprises which he places strategically in hi garden to catch the eye. An enchanted winged, pink pig lords it over a waterfall that spills over interesting rocks and flows away under a wooden bridge (that pig or his mate also shows up in a window box behind some geraniums.). Bits of driftwood, tree stumps, stones of all sorts, surprising and unique ornamental touches such as the curved wooden birdhouses or a sign peeping from a little wild space saying, “Ground under repair”, join two copper containers, what appears to be Maritimer’s rope, and a large piece of driftwood planted upright, pointing spear-like to the sky against a backdrop of greenery. There is more, but it so cleverly placed you have to look hard to see it all.
Following a sun-dappled pathway to the back of the house leads to a totally different mood. A round swimming pool set in a raised cedar deck is open and sunny. Next to this garden entrance, there is a lovely open kitchen complete with cupboards and counters that doubles a bar. It is sheltered under a cedar roof, as is a small “sitting room” furnished with comfy cushioned chairs and a settee, next to it. The dining area hosts a high round table surrounded by stools.
On the opposite side of the pool under a sheltering corner roof, a large, round lounging chair waits for his mother who comes over Sundays to enjoy the sunny days of summer.
Then there is Ken’s greenhouse, hidden off the beaten trail behind the kitchen. This is his happy place where he can putter and dream undisturbed. He is growing herbs and the space is filled with more of the clever finds that intrigue him. One is an old tin sign reading, “Ken’s Livery and
Wheelwright”. It seems he has a lot of hidden talents.
There is not much sun but what there is houses raised beds featuring a potager housing vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, and a squash plant. Ripening raspberries shine shyly from
behind healthy leaves.
Everything in this garden is meticulously planned and cared for. It says a lot about the Mayor of Chilliwack. It would be hard to imagine a disordered city management under his leadership.
The garden also speaks of creativity and intelligence. Lucky Chilliwack.