Edwards Greenhouse matriarch dies at 94

Wilma “Dody” Edwards holds tulips and hydrangea flowers at Edwards Greenhouse.
Wilma “Dody” Edwards holds tulips and hydrangea flowers at Edwards Greenhouse. Provided by the Edwards family

Wilma J. Edwards, who went by the nickname “Dody,” died Sunday, Jan. 24. She left behind a large family and a legacy as the “matriarch” of Edwards Greenhouse in North Boise.

Edwards was born in 1921 on a sheep ranch in Emmett and spent much of her childhood in Payette, where her parents worked and farmed.

“Mom was very proud of her hometown and made sure we, her daughters, visited often and shared her enthusiasm,” Garnette Edwards wrote in an obituary. “We were convinced that our family car knew how to get there on its own.”

Edwards’ lifelong love of horticulture took full bloom when, as a young adult, she worked for her sister at Genoway’s Payette Greenhouse. That’s also where she met Paul Edwards, “a handsome young greenhouse grower from Boise,” the obituary said.

The two married in 1951 and worked together at Edwards Greenhouse — the business Paul Edwards took over from his father in 1947, when it was 17 years old.

The Edwardses changed the greenhouse from a wholesale operation to a full garden center in the 1970s. During the decades Dody Edwards worked in the garden center, she developed a knack for remembering customers’ names and orders.

“I remember, once, I was back in custom potting with her, and I heard her say, ‘Well, hi, Bob. I haven’t seen you for a while.’ And I looked up, and it was (former Idaho) Gov. Robert Smylie,” Garnette Edwards said in an interview Friday. “She knew that he got red and white petunias, and red and white impatiens and red geraniums.”

Her customers and employees remembered Dody Edwards, too; eight siblings who worked at the greenhouse years later took a photograph of themselves in front of the business and gave it to her as a gift.

“It was her prized possession,” Garnette Edwards said.

Dody Edwards also made a habit of checking birth notices and obituaries each day, sending flowers to celebrate new babies or to mourn the loss of loved ones. She sent flowers for every reason and no reason, her family said.

“She was always here for every potluck we had — always was just a big influence for me on how to throw a really nice, pretty party,” said granddaughter Erin Monnie.

Even in her retirement, Edwards “would come and sit and have coffee and just chat everybody up,” Monnie said.

That’s partly why, as she reached the end of her life, Dody Edwards was reluctant to go. She didn’t want to miss out on her own service.

“My mom loved a party, and honestly she did not want to leave,” Garnette Edwards said. “She wanted to hang around for the party, and I said, ‘We can’t give it until you go.’”

That memorial service will be open to all at 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15, at Edwards Greenhouse, 4106 Sand Creek St., Boise.

Audrey Dutton: 208-377-6448, @IDS_Audrey