They’re calling for highs in the double-digits right through next week. Finally. I can’t recall a spring so bashful.

But the sun was shining the other day, so I went for a stroll. It’s never a bad idea to begin a walk with fuel in the tank. Do try Bonanza Bakery – corner of Catharine and Murray – where a sandwich big as a football goes for $2.50. Guards from the nearby Barton Street Hilton love the place.

One block east of the bakery, you can enter the North End proper – the far side of the tracks – by crossing the Mary Street footbridge. It looks like an old rail span and makes you feel that on the other side another time and place awaits.

Values for the homes here along Strachan, all facing the tracks, are bound to rise. In 2015, GO Transit begins to phase in all-day service. From these houses, it would be a five-minute walk to the new station.


Cross the Mary Street bridge to a land that is always green. (Paul Wilson/ CBC)

I’m proceeding north on Mary. And in the very first block I come upon a strange spectacle.

Already summer on Mary Street

As mentioned, it’s been a very slow spring. Yet here, somehow, it is already mid-summer. This lawn, that one, and that one and another too, they are already emerald green. And fresh mown.

Perfect grass. Run your fingers through it.

OK, God didn’t make these lawns, but they do look good.

But how did Mary become the greenest street in Hamilton, the place where summer begins the day the snow melts?

I knock at No. 380. Tony Botelho, retired construction worker, is glad to talk grass. He arrived from San Miguel, Portugal some 40 years ago. He’s been on Mary most of that time and he and his wife keep a house as shiny as any on the street.

But Tony says when it comes to lawns, he was just playing catch-up. His neighours across the street got the man-made grass first. Then his neighbour to the north. Then his neighbour to the south. All that green. Tony didn’t really have a choice.


Across the street, then either side of him, the perfect lawns were laid. So Tony Botelho got one himself.

Most people get the lawns installed, but Tony did the job himself. Then he gave his son his old mower.

No mowing here

He suggests I talk to the Coutos across the street, the ones who first made Mary a mow-free zone. Maria and Manuel are from Portugal too. This street has been home for 37 years.

"This is the best thing we ever did," Maria says, looking out over that perfect grass. No watering, no fertilizing, no weeding, no cutting.

"People go by and say to me, ‘How did you get such a nice lawn?’" she says. "I tell them I bought it."

As it turns out, her son Ivan is in the business in a big way. It’s called AGL Grass and has a lush website. Just like the real stuff, their plastic grass comes in varieties – Fiddler’s Green, Hamilton, Millgrove, Meadowlands.

This grass – suburban front lawns start at $5,000 – is supposed to last 25 years. And it’s said to be recyclable.

These pretty lawns, however, do not come with worms. The robins don’t like Mary Street anymore.

Read more CBC Hamilton stories by Paul Wilson here.