Dawson Blooms in the Summer

I managed to mow our lawn before the rain began to sprinkle this morning and was pleased to find that several of the dog damaged areas that I reseeded earlier in the summer no longer stand out as patches of bare earth.

Indeed, the new grass there is greener and thicker than some of the other sections of the lawn.

I’m not fussy about matching colours, or what kind of grass grows on my lawn. I would be the despair of any southern suburbia as I’m happy just as long as it’s green and it grows.

It brightens up the world after a long winter that’s mostly shades of white and grey.

Dawson really does seek to bloom in the summer. The most dramatic change of all comes on Gold Show Weekend in May, when everyone buys their hanging baskets and porches all over town spring into life.

There’s been a lot of preparation before that happens. Some people are talented enough and have the patience to get their own plants ready in greenhouses and plant rooms.

At Chez Davidson we’re not good at that, and while there may be a few roses that manage to winter over in our partly heated crawlspace, we’re mostly looking to spend some money of fresh plants each year.

We have some perennial wildflowers that seem to survive, but that’s about it.

Fortunately we can turn to the folks like the Vogts, Lenarts and McDonalds, whose greenhouses supply Dawsonites with everything from garden vegetables to trees when we need them. We also have several landscaping companies around town that help to keep things vital.

This year I was late getting started on my own mowing and the grass suddenly leaped beyond what my little electric mower could handle so I had the first cutting of the year done for me.

After that I can keep up if I spend a couple of hours every week or 10 days, depending on the ratio of sunlight to rain. This year has been very good in that way.

Dawson has quite a few public gardens too, some looked after by contactors hired by the City of Dawson and some by Parks Canada.

Victory Gardens, over by the Dawson City Museum, is one of our oldest, having been established between the two World Wars. It comes complete with a massive flowerbed, flagpoles and two WWI vintage Great War field artillery pieces.

Parks looks after the grounds around the Commissioners Residence and does a lovely job. Martha Black, who was a great plant lover, would be happy. There is generally a good display of flowering plants in place by the day of the Commissioner’s Tea in early June.

It was a bit chilly in late May this year and things had not progressed as fast as usual by June 13, but it’s a very nice walk right now, and tourists are strolling through the grounds just about every time we walk the dog past there in the evening.

We can only hope that the cuts to Parks’ budget won’t have an impact on the gardens.

Mary Hanulik Gardens, just off Front Street, is one of our most dramatic sites and a testament to a good idea.

Originally it was simply a little road to the top of the dike where there was an access hole to the catchment basin that feeds the outflow to our infamous sewage discharge pipe. (Yes, that is why it sometimes smells a bit up there.)

Our public works superintendent, Norm Carlson, decided it would be better to pretty it up a bit, and had some bushes and flowers planted. Then it became the site chosen for three large boulders that carry plaques to honour some of the Klondike’s founders.

With the passage of time it became a distinctive site and acquired the local name of Norm’s Hump, because of its shape. That was considered somewhat undignified. The search for something with more class led it to be renamed Mary Hanulik Gardens in honour of a lady whose residence was always a byword for beautiful plants and gardens during her lifetime.

It is part of one of the many ways to walk along and enjoy the dike with its view of both the Yukon River and Front Street.

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