Plants, nursery are Dixon's life

Published 12:38 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2006

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
It's the time of the year when you never know if it is going to be winter or summer in the morning when you wake up. But just as it does every year about this time, spring weather is with us more and more each day. Everybody's mind starts to think about either spring cleaning or working in his/her yard. There's just something about turning the dirt and seeing new little spouts popping up through the soil.
This week's profile subject can really give one the upper hand in having a beautiful yard. He can't satisfy those who want to do their own digging and planting, but for those who just want the benefit of the beauty of his landscaping, Fred Dixon is your man.
Fred Dixon is the owner and operator of Dixon's Nursery and Landscaping and he has been planting and tilling the soil since 1958 when he rooted his first plant.
From that first plant has come one of the most successful nursery and landscaping businesses in the area and Dixon has made it into a family business with the addition of his wife, Barbara, and his son, Larry. They have several acres planted in trees and shrubs, some, which are fully-grown and ready to shade someone's yard.
Like many other businesses along the Gulf coast, Dixon's has seen and been a part of the devastation that was visited by Hurricane Ivan in September of 2004. He lost many trees on his property and has found his supply of trees from other areas along the coast has been highly affected.
One of the more recent jobs was to work with the cities that are receiving money grants to replant damaged areas. There are some 35 cities and towns that have gotten grants to replant and his business bid for and got the job to do replanting in Atmore. They planted 542 trees within Atmore, ranging from Red Maple, Crape Myrtle, Pistachio, Live Oak, Sugar Maple and other varieties.
Here in Brewton they have recently completed work at The Inn and at the Brewton Mill Federal Credit Union. They build retainer walls, swales for drainage and determine which plants work best in shade or in the sunlight. They dig the soil and get it ready for the planting process within a 100 miles radius of Brewton. Last year they even did an office complex in the Malbis area.
Fred Dixon did not take the easy way to get where he is today. He was a school dropout in the tenth grade and wouldn't recommend that everyone take the route he took to become a success.
What happened next could have been Dixon's worst nightmare. He was given the job of carrying buckets of hot, scalding tar to be used in the shipbuilding process. He had to carry them over all sorts of obstacles to get where he was supposed to go and one wrong step could have sent that hot tar all over him. Needless to say, he decided to quit after one week.
His next step was to join the U.S. Army in the transport section. This was in 1943 during the middle of World War II. He trained and was sent overseas just in time to be a part of the support troops for those who landed on Normandy Beach in June of 1944.
A few years ago the Veteran's Administration worked with the schools in order to give those who had dropped out of school all those years ago a diploma. Dixon was one of those who finally received his diploma.
Dixon was born within sight of where he lives now on Dixon Nursery Road. He came from a family of five boys and one girl. He said his childhood was typical for a boy growing up in the country. Times were hard as the country was pulling itself out of a depression, but everyone else was also having hard times. He went to school in the Brewton City School System and was attending T.R. Miller High School when he dropped out in 1943. He spent 15 months in the Army Transport and came home.
He came back to Brewton and began working with his father in the carpentry business and stayed there for a few years. It was while he was working with his dad that he began to work with plants.
During this time, he and his wife had two children, Bill and Linda. His wife died and he remarried in 1962 to Barbara Rogers and they had three more children, JoEllen, Sandra and Larry, and there are now nine grandchildren. The children all grew up in the nursery business, but Larry is the only one who has become a part of the business. He has now been made a partner and has taken on much of the work that his dad used to do.
Larry and his wife, Sheila, are certainly qualified to take on the busy business. He has grown up there and she works in the office while she waits to take her bar exam to become an attorney. The two met at Brewton Church of Christ, which has been a big part of the Dixon family. In fact, Fred Dixon's father, C.Y. Dixon helped to build the church.
One knows that Fred Dixon loves what he is doing. You can tell when you take a walk among his trees that was waiting to grace someone's yard. He may have had to give up some of the harder tasks, but he may not be retired for a long while yet.

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