There is something very special about walking into the Safeway grocery store and have a veritable rainbow of flowers greet you at the door. “It’s what I love about being the floral manager,” Dennis Dodson described, “flowers make people happy.”
Dennis has been Floral Manager for Safeway for four years, but his professional floral designer career has spanned over 35. Born in New Orleans, he moved to West Virginia with his family at a young age. He and his sister Corrine would visit Middleburg often. “My sister always said that I belonged here because I related so well to the people, the places, and the beauty of Middleburg.”
As a kid, his innate artistic eye and sense of botanical aesthetics began in his own backyard, and over the years his craft developed working under other designers and in the floral industry. He loves to show how even basic flowers and greenery can make attractive arrangements. He teaches floral design and gives demonstrations; one in particular, at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Customers call upon him to provide floral arrangements for weddings, private parties, corporate functions, destination occasions, and church services.
Every week Dennis receives a shipment of fresh flowers, seasonal greenery, and roses of all colors. Lilies and roses are his biggest sellers but customers can always find a variety ranging from tulips, hydrangeas, calla lilies, stock, sunflowers, gerbera daisies, stock, and more lilies. Mingling among the buckets customers can find little pots of succulents, English ivy, lucky bamboo, pothos and aloe vera. Orchids are always a popular item and he insists “they be natural!” Outside you can always find a variety of seasonal hanging plants, ferns, begonias, pansies, and flowers for your window boxes. It’s always changing, week to week.
Since its inception, Dennis has been involved in the Foxes on the Fence, the Middleburg Garden Club’s creative fundraiser currently displayed on the fences in front of Safeway and the United Methodist Church. His entry this year is “Burr Fox”, a very three-dimensional piece made from dried thistle that’s turned a nice shade of brown. He explained, “it was a natural choice. I love using organic materials when I can.” Occasionally he’ll enter other competitions but “competing really isn’t my goal,” he said, “it’s just being around others who share the love of floral designing.”
Landscaping is also a passion. At home in West Virginia, he tries not to share too much of the garden with deer, but as we all know it can be exasperating. “What’s your favorite flower?” I asked. “I love them all, but I suppose parrot tulips are my favorite.” “And your favorite tree?” “The tri-colored beech.” There’s a common visual of multi-color presentation in both tulip and beech leaf.
The father of two grown children and on their own, he is now a grandfather. His youngest, a daughter, is about to enter UCLA. Basketball is a passion having inherited her height from her father and “book smarts from her mother”, he said. “Modeling may be her future as well. She is also a wonderful photographer and has a great eye.” The artistic apple never falls far from the tree.
He considers Middleburg his home away from home. “I don’t even think about not going to work. I love my work, and I love the community.” And we adore him too.