Inaugural Landscaping Camp Will Help Oxonians Beautify Their Yards

Jeff McManus
Jeff McManus, Director of Landscape Services at the University of Mississippi. (Photo courtesy Jeff McManus)

The Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce along with the Economic Development Foundation are hosting the “inaugural” Landscaping Camp here in Oxford in late May as part of the Retirement Attraction Program. The unique event has begun attracting interest from all across the United States. Please share with us, first, the exact dates and cost.

Oxford Chamber: The Landscaping Camp will take place on May 26, 27 and 28. We have an Early Bird special going on now for $300 through January 31, after that the cost will be $375. The cost does not include accommodations; however, we are excited to have The Inn at Ole Miss as our host hotel, where the camp will be held. In addition, if one doesn’t have a place to stay in Oxford they can make reservations with the Inn at Ole Miss at a discounted rate by calling 1-888-486-7666. What are the deliverables for the attendees?

landscaping-camp-something-is-always-blooming-on-campus-even-in-the-winterOxford Chamber: During this two-and-a-half day camp each participant will receive two books written by Jeff McManus at the Opening Dinner/Book Signing. Among activities, one will be able to immerse themselves on a tour of the beautiful Ole Miss campus, learn some great practices from industry leaders, attend educational seminars on how to prune your shrubs, including choosing the right time, as well as growing gardens, attracting birds plus receive timesaving tips for a low maintenance yard and network in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. To top it off, three tours will also take place en route via the famous Double Decker Bus to the stunning landscaped homes of Dickie and Dianne Scruggs and Sam and Mary Haskell, which are both inspired by McManus, as well as a tour of the beautiful and historical City of Oxford. Jeff McManus is apparently playing a key role.

Oxford Chamber: Absolutely! He loved the idea and has jumped on board with excitement and great ideas to make this event a must to attend. You have already attracted some key sponsors.

Oxford Chamber: We are thrilled to announce our key sponsors, which include The City of Oxford, The University of Mississippi, MaxxSouth Broadband, Rebel Realty and Property Management LLC, The Inn at Ole Miss, Stages Mississippi Magazine and We’re currently looking for Hospitality Sponsors to help us make our guests’ visit even more memorable. The cost of a Hospitality Sponsor is $400. Their logos will be showcased on a “Welcome Banner,” as well as be listed in our program. Why is the Landscape Camp perfect to host in Oxford?

Oxford Chamber: With The University of Mississippi receiving so many accolades of being named “The Most Beautiful Campus” by a number of national publications as well in Newsweek 2011, The Princeton Review and just recently in USA Today’s Readers Choice competition, make it an ideal and proven location.

This Landscaping Camp idea derived from the accolades of the Ole Miss campus and how Americans love to spend time in beautifying their yard season to season, actually turning their yard into another inviting space to welcome their family and friends. According to “Good Housekeeping,” 75 percent of American homeowners spend time or money, or both, tending to their lawns. Attendees definitely should leave here inspired.

Oxford Chamber: We’re rolling out the Green Carpet, creating a sense of anticipation that will result from the seminars and visits to the magnificent landscaped homes, as campers will be enthused to return home and put their new ideas to work. They’ll be excited in taking their homes to a new level of beauty. Is there a website interested parties can link to and register?

Oxford Chamber:
Contact Rosie Vassallo by email at or by phone 662-234-4651. How many participants are you anticipating?

Oxford Chamber: We’re expecting 50 to 100; however, our Early Bird registrations appear to be projecting an even greater attendance. The beautification of the Ole Miss campus appears to be a primary catalyst in the creation of the camp.

Oxford Chamber: People respond to beautiful well-planned surroundings. The University’s beauty has attracted a number of prospective students to Ole Miss, as well as residents to Oxford. Appearance adds to home values, helps attract business investment, and just improves the overall neighborhood reputation. Research shows that beauty is one of the top three factors in creating community attachment, or loyalty, to your particular town, city or neighborhood. Who are some of the experts that attendees will hear from in addition to McManus?

landscaping-camp-photoOxford Chamber: While we are still finalizing our speakers, the new ideas and suggestions that will be introduced to attendees will be significant. Mr. Peng Lee, former research scientist of The National Center for Physical Acoustics, University of Mississippi, will speak on “How To Grow Fig Trees,” while Kristin Lamberson with the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, will address “Creating a Bird-Friendly Landscape.” How will the ultimate success be determined?

Oxford Chamber: Turnout will be key, as well as if one asks for more information regarding Oxford or possibly coming back for another visit. In addition, a brief survey will also be given to each attendee. We anticipate the Landscaping Camp becoming an annual event as Oxford, Ole Miss and natural beauty are all synonymous! And, May is one of our ‘greatest’ months as we are blossoming out all over following graduation.

Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at or call him at 985-852-7745.

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