Published on March 3, 2019

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Like most plant enthusiasts, Blake Pope’s troop started small. “I think it was a peace lily,” says the North Carolina native of his first plant. “Not that those are cool or trendy, but it looked fun. Within a few weeks, it multiplied to five or six plants.”  

One peace lily quickly escalated to an army of greenery. A little over 70 plants now fill the photographer’s Davidson, North Carolina, apartment—an oasis he shares with his dog, BenG, and has called home for the past two years.

“It’s getting a bit overwhelming. I’ve slowed down and have actually gifted a few to some friends. I’ve tried to be philanthropic to a degree,” laughs Pope.

Green thumbs will recognize a few fan favorites in the mix, including a number of monstera (Pope’s favorite), euphorbias, and the ever-popular fiddle-leaf fig. The effect is all-encompassing: some greens lurk down low while others trickle from the ceiling. The rental might only span 700 square feet, but every inch is as fulfilling as a tropical vacation.

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Pope picked up his green thumb from his close friend, boss, and mentor, Katy Kindred—one part of the husband-and-wife duo behind the popular Davidson restaurant, Kindred.

“Katy is one of the most creative people I know,” shares Pope. “She opened my eyes up to incorporating plants into a design, which was foreign to me at the time, four years ago.”

“I’ll be honest, I don’t overthink it. There’s no Excel spreadsheet or anything. Plants are supposed to be fun.”

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Swimming in natural light, plants grace every surface, shelf, and side table—from the West Elm dresser in the bedroom to the bar cart in the living room. Anyone who has ever accidentally killed a small shrub or a low-maintenance succulent would chalk his max-capacity approach up to a recipe for disaster. The secret? He doesn’t take the job too seriously.

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“I’ll be honest, I don’t overthink it. There’s no Excel spreadsheet or anything. Plants are supposed to be fun,” he explains.

Instead, Pope sets aside 40 minutes every Sunday to wind down, water, and care for his potted friends. “I’ll do rounds and tend to them all. Usually, there’s a glass of white wine involved—if not two,” he continues.

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Watching a space transform with the seemingly simple addition of a plant was a new thrill. Greenery effortlessly complemented Pope’s laidback, modern aesthetic—a style which he largely attributes to his own experimentations in making furniture.

“It was a brief stint. I wouldn’t say I was great,” he laughs. “I got into this DIY phase of building shelving and tables, and all of that was very much inspired by mid-century furniture.”

While his furniture-making days are behind him, clean silhouettes and cool wood tones continue on in the living room with a sleek black sofa from Article and a Noguchi-inspired coffee table.

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Pope’s perfectly peach bedroom (the walls swathed in Benjamin Moore’s Peaches n’ Cream) makes a strong case for a canopy, and we’re not talking about an ordinary four-poster bed draped with ornate fabric. At night, Pope takes cover under an areca palm.

“It was eight-and-a-half-feet tall when I bought it. I don’t know how I fit it in my car,” he says. With some careful pruning, the feather-like tree proved to be the ultimate statement piece.

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