Dawson and Harrison
By Ryan Aden with supporting content from Dawson’s Garden World.
Edward Harrison and his wife Susannah Harrison built their house in 1900 in the suburb of Belmont, Perth. Edward used the land (four acres) opposite his house to operate a large plant production nursery. Between 1900 and 1902, a partnership was formed between George Russell Dawson and Edward James Harrison which was called Dawson and Harrison. The partnership sold a variety of plants.
In the initial stages of the partnership, Dawson and Harrison delivered plants by horse and cart to locations all over Perth. Their retail stores were very successful.
In 1914 Dawson and Harrison expanded by purchasing 100 acres in Forrestfield. This is where the Forrestfield Garden Centre is now located, however housing development has played a major part since the land was first purchased. In 1914, Dawson and Harrison was also a fruit producer. Flowers were grown at Forrestfield and sold through the city shops and Interflora Franchise. Condition of roads or lack thereof made it somewhat difficult when transporting product from Forrestfield to the customer. According to George Dawson’s son, Bill Dawson, when they passed through swamps, water often reached the footboards of the car.
George Dawson’s sons Bill and George made significant contributions to WA and Australian horticulture. A prime example is that during WWII, in an effort to urge people to grow more vegetables to supplement wartime diets, Bill Dawson wrote “My Victory Garden” (a comprehensive manual for home vegetable production).
In 1950, Dawson and Harrison opened its Forrestfield site for retail shopping to the public. The company closed its city store in 1970 as a consequence of the popularity of the Forrestfield store.
Innovation by Dawson and Harrison was eminent in the 1960s as the company came up with the idea of growing roses in plastic pots.
The company is today known as Dawson’s Garden World. They are still going strong, with branches in Forrestfield, Swanbourne, Joondalup and O’Connor. Their production nursery is still in operation in Forrestfield which includes much of the company history and a café.