Home Personnel Profile Hollis Malone Sheds a Little Light on the Opryland Resort’s Interior Garden...

Hollis Malone Sheds a Little Light on the Opryland Resort’s Interior Garden Success


Name: Hollis Malone
Title: Manager of the Horticulture and Pest Control Departments
Company: Gaylord Hotels
Property: Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
Number of Years with company: 31 years
My primary responsibilities: “I oversee the operation of the resort’s interior gardens, grounds and pest control departments.”
What keeps me motivated: “I get excited about coming in to see the gardens every day. I am lucky; my profession is my hobby. There are so many plants and so much to know. I never get bored.”
My department’s most significant accomplishment so far: “I believe it is our long-term record of consistent maintenance and our ability to keep our gardens in great shape.”
Our biggest challenge: “We never shut down. We always have a challenge doing our work with our guests here. Another challenge is maintaining the health of the plants.”
What advice I would give to a hotel operator considering gardens like the Opryland’s: “Make sure you design your gardens to have enough light. Light is the key to a garden’s success. Also be sure to seek out experts for advice. You will have fewer problems in the long run.”

NASHVILLE—Anyone who has been to the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville knows that it is the property’s nine acres of interior green space that makes the hotel different. Yes, the friendly service helps, as well as the stellar convention facilities, but the hundreds of varieties of flowering plants and trees provide a unique experience of serenity under glass.

Overseeing the property’s famous collection of 445 species of plants is Hollis Malone, manager of the horticulture and pest control departments. The graduate of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Tennessee ensures that each plant maintains optimal health. That is a challenge considering there are 50,000 plants in the property’s Conservatory, Cascades and Delta gardens.

“I get excited every time I see our guests’ reactions to our gardens,” Malone says. “We get a lot of positive comments, even from guests from tropical areas where there are so many of these types of plants. The positive reaction helps keep our staff motivated.”

Malone says there are many challenges to maintaining such a wide variety of plants and trees. The soil itself is a challenge because it is an artificial media that is always breaking down.

“You have to constantly adjust the fertility,” Malone says.

Sometimes trees grow so large they have to be removed. That has happened with some of the hotel’s palm trees. Sometimes plants have to be rearranged to maximize the limited availability of natural light. Chemicals are not used more than necessary to fertilize the plants or for insect control.

“We are very conscious of the health of our guests and staff,” Malone says. “We try to run a safe program.”

A Natural Pest Control Approach

When Malone first started working at the resort, he set out to implement a pest control program that uses fluids such as water and soapy water, in addition to predacious insects such as ladybugs and praying mantises. Now, such insects are introduced into the gardens every so often to control the bad insects. Once the bad insects are gone, so too is the good insects’ food supply. That means they eventually die off, too, which means additional ones have to be reordered.

“We use glue cards to detect insects present in the gardens,” Malone says.

He adds that unique systems have had to be devised to get the good insects to where they need to be, even if at the top of a tree. There is not an entomologist on staff but there is an onsite lab set up to identify insects.

“Our pest control people have been here so long that they can identify just about everything,” Malone says.

To minimize water consumption in the gardens, drip irrigation is used. All of the water used for the plants is well water. The humidity level is maintained at 55 percent in the garden atriums to ensure a level of comfort for guests and greenery.

The impressive garden areas impact the bottom line at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel daily. The property’s guestrooms that overlook the gardens generate approximately 30 percent more revenue than the hotel’s other guestrooms.

In recognition of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel’s environmental efforts, the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. awarded the property with its Good Earthkeeping Award earlier this year. In addition to the property’s innovative pest control program, it was recognized for its reductions in energy and water use. The property includes an onsite energy center that uses clean-burning natural gas to generate electricity, and a well-water filtration system for the laundry and other non-domestic uses.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at greenlodgingnews@aol.com.