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Think Green This Black Friday: Landscaping Camp tickets on sale now

Visit Oxford wants members of the LOU Community to “Think Green This Black Friday,” and the entire holiday season, by giving your green-thumbed loved ones the gift of admission to Landscaping Camp 

Landscaping Camp, which features the landscaping guru behind the University of Mississippi being named “The Most Beautiful Campus,” will take place May 28 and 29, 2021 – after being delayed in 2020 due to COVID-19. Admission to the camp, which features two days of hands-on activities and a slate of local landscaping experts, is discounted through Jan. 1 to $200. It is usually $300.  

The award-winning camp features a tour of campus, led by Jeff McManus, Ole Miss director of landscaping services, who will also host the opening night dinner where guests will each receive a copy of his book. McManus teaches participants his low maintenance strategy for creating beautiful landscaping, giving hands-on instruction in techniques along the way including how to “Prune Like a Pro,” the title of his book. His second book was titled “Turning Weeders into Leaders.”  

Additional features speakers are Greg Pinion, City of Oxford Buildings and Grounds Superintendent, who maintains the landscaping in Oxford’s historic Square, and Steven Tucker, Mississippi State University Extension Agent, who is an expert in wildlife and will discuss how to create a landscape that is also wildlife friendly.   

The camp will include a visit to Farmstead Florals, where owner Katherine Sharp Webb grows fresh flowers for local and regional markets, as well as a stop at the beautifully landscaped property of Dickie and Diane Scruggs, which is also maintained by McManus. The tour will feature the famous Oxford Double Decker bus and other historic local sites.  

Rosie Vassallo, Director of Retiree Attraction with the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, conceived the Landscaping Camp and organizes it each year. She said the landscaping camp will comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines – whatever may be in place at that time – with a limited number of participants and held mostly outside with social distancing, if required. 

Vassallo said she is really looking forward to bring the event back in 2021 for the fourth time.  

Landscaping Camp is just a lot of fun. When I came up with this idea, I said, I have created my own vacation. I love this. Vassallo said. “I received the most complimentary note I’ve ever received in my life,” from an attendee, Vassallo recalled, “She thought we had gone above and beyond. That stays with me every year – I have to make sure I touch everybody just like I touched her. It is fun to make people happy.”  

A highlight of the camp, said Vassallo, are the “secrets” revealed by McManus during the camp, as well as some of the stories behind how the Ole Miss campus stays beautiful from one season to the next and can be transformed overnight from a “disaster” following an Ole Miss football game to being “spotless” the next morning.  

Started in 2017, the camp had been growing annually and is expected to attract between 45-50 attendees – including many return out-of-town visitors. (For out of town visitors, The Inn at Ole Miss is offering discounted accommodation rates.) The event launched the same year Ole Miss was named among the most beautiful campuses in the U.S. by a number of publications.  

“What we are doing is using the accolades of the Ole Miss campus to bring people back to Oxford and Ole Miss to learn more about the campus itself, and people just love it,” Vassallo said.  

She said she is most delighted that many return year after year and bring spouses, family members and close friends with them. Many, she said, had no initial connection to Oxford and Ole Miss other than they want to come to see its beauty.  

That McManus has catapulted the campus onto many landscape-lover’s bucket lists is an example of what local officials have worked hard to create in Oxford and Lafayette County – an atmosphere that attracts visitors and entices many to stay and start a business, work and raise a family here.  

For more information or to purchase tickets visit OxfordMS.com or contact the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce at 662-234-4651.