Spring Planting at Dollywood

There are so many things that go into making Dollywood the beautiful and unique theme park that it is.  As someone who loves flowers, one aspect of Dollywood that I always notice and enjoy is the landscaping.  Have you never really paid attention to that detail? Read on and hopefully you will find a new appreciation for it!

I visited with Sabrina Canter, the Senior Team Lead for Landscaping at Dollywood, on a gorgeous spring morning recently and could have spent all day just soaking in the sun and walking around admiring the grounds of Dollywood. Sabrina noted that Landscaping is sort of a “background” player at the park, saying, “We are the people who create the areas that help our guests relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.”

In Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country together, there are just 12 hosts who work in Landscaping. Sabrina did mention that they are hiring, though! Especially with the new Wildwood Grove addition, they are looking to add to their staff. These 12 hosts are divided up into two teams, with the larger team at Dollywood. She did mention that both teams pitch in to help the other at busier times. These hosts are mostly full-time and work year-round to help complete the three major change outs for landscaping during the Dollywood season.

Even as the park closes in January, they are beginning to plant bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, which kick off the spring season in March. In late April/early May, the summer flowers are added to the park; then in the fall, chrysanthemums and other fall flowers fill the beds and pots. Sabrina told me there are also 98 hanging baskets put out in the summer at Dollywood and 48 at Splash Country. The Landscaping team grows the plants that fill these baskets in the two small greenhouses on their property.  They start with small “plugs” and by late April, they are potted and ready to go. They also winter larger tropical plants in the greenhouses.

As we walked among the colorful pansies surrounding us, I discovered that they were planted in the winter and are refreshed throughout the spring. There were approximately 2,000 pansy plants put out this year!  This is more than they usually plant because Sabrina opted to put pansies out by the parking toll booths this year to add color to the entrance. The summer will bring pentas to this area, which are colorful and hardy and will tolerate the full sun the parking lot gets.

On a typical summer day, the Landscaping team arrives at 4 a.m. and begins watering (Sabrina said there wasn’t much automatic irrigation due to the flower beds having been built so long ago), mowing, hedging, and trimming. That way, she said, they can “make their mess and get it cleaned up” before the guests begin arriving. After the park opens, they continue with deadheading plants and tasks such as trimming, as well as offsite and greenhouse work. She said during this time the team enjoys interacting with the guests, since they usually work while the park is closed, and they don’t have the opportunity to speak with guests like most of the other hosts do.

As plans are being made for the next year, Sabrina said they always keep the color schemes in mind for the different areas, while maintaining a cohesive theme throughout the entire park. Some little details she pointed out: the beds around each theatre all tie together, and also that they always have a red, white and blue color scheme in the flowers around the flagpole at the entrance. They plan to add even more flowers to the beds next year – particularly in the Showstreet area – to provide guests with a cheery and colorful entrance to the park.

At the end of our visit, Sabrina noted that Landscaping “creates the atmosphere that helps people enjoy their visit to the park—as well as accentuating the natural beauty of the surrounding Smoky Mountains that Dolly loves so much.”  On your next Dollywood or Dollywood’s Splash Country visit, be sure and notice these gorgeous natural features in the park – just another detail which helps make Dollywood a beautiful place to visit.

Stay tuned for a soon-coming Landscaping blog, which will highlight the $1,000,000 (yes, one million dollars!) investment into the landscaping around Wildwood Grove.

For more information about what’s blooming at Dollywood, click here.

By | 2021-01-11T15:41:41-05:00 May 13th, 2019|Behind the Scenes|0 Comments

About the Author:

Kelly Harb (Dollywood Insider 2018-2021) has lived in Knoxville since 1986 – the year she married her beloved Richard and the year Dollywood became Dollywood! She and Richard also have an adult son and daughter, two in-law children (their favorites) and the great JOY of three grandchildren, ages 6, 4 and 1 years old– all of whom also are huge Dollywood fans! Kelly grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi. Her father was an NFL referee. As a parent, she spent thousands of hours in bleachers at sporting events watching her children - from 4-year-old soccer, to middle school volleyball to college football – more than 15 different sports in all. She traveled to every corner of the globe during her husband’s stint working for Bible Study Fellowship. Kelly’s favorite things to do include Bible study, girl time, reading, traveling, Broadway musicals, shopping, leading young married groups with her husband, and best of all, spending time with her family – preferably at a theme park!
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