University of Mississippi will hold Landscaping Camp in May

Gracie Snyder
Oxford Stories

From the day people are born and take their first breaths of air, they dream of a particular time that seems like a lightyear and a galaxy away.

After they begin their career in the workforce, they wonder if the moment will ever come, and if it will meet expectations when it does.

This elusive season is retirement, and once it’s obtained, people are left with the choice of where to enjoy their days leisurely soaking up the sun and catching some Zs.

In an effort to alleviate the perplexity of this decision, the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber and the Economic Development Foundation are hoping to captivate prospective retirees with a new event illuminating the allure of Oxford and Ole Miss.


The autumnal-colored landscape surrounding the Phi Mu Fountain on the Ole Miss campus. Photo by Gracie Snyder.

As part of the Chamber of Commerce’s Retirement Attraction Program, the University of Mississippi and the City of Oxford will play host to a Landscaping Camp from May 26-28, 2017, intended to both showcase the LOU-community’s beauty and connect potential retirees to the university.

Striking at the time when Ole Miss is reveling in being named USA Today Readers’ Choice Winner for the Best Beautiful College Campus, Rosie Vassallo, chamber member and director for retirement attraction, believes this event will not only captivate interested retirees, but will enlighten them on ways to spruce up their own yards.

“With Ole Miss having been named most beautiful campus by so many national publications, and just recently by USA Today, we felt this would be another way to encourage those that have already shown interest in Oxford to come and see it,” Vassallo said. “Beautifying one’s home is at the top of the list as retirees receive exercise while making their home more attractive by taking up gardening.”


Stunning fall colors adorning one of the trees near Bondurant Hall on the Ole Miss campus. Photo by Gracie Snyder.

According to the brochure, this Landscaping Camp will be a two-and-a half day event where participants will have the opportunity to immerse themselves on a tour of the beautiful Ole Miss Campus, learn great practices from industry leaders during lunch, attend educational seminars on how to prune your shrubs – including choosing the right time, growing gardens, attracting birds, time saving tips for a low maintenance yard, and they will network in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.

With the joint relationship of the university and chamber, this event seeks to highlight Oxford as one of the best places to retire and continue the steady growth of retirees entering the area while exemplifying the unity between the Oxford and university communities.

“Oxford offers a remarkable retirement lifestyle, which has recaptured tranquility and community spirit that many remember as a thing of the past,” Vassallo said. “Oxford offers the cultural amenities that are most appealing to retirees.”

The keynote speaker for this event will be Ole Miss’s own Director of Landscape Services Jeff McManus, who will both lead participants on a Double Decker bus tour of the City of Oxford and two Oxfordian residences he maintains, as well as showcase the information behind two books he’s authored, Pruning Like a Pro and Growing Weeders into Leaders.


A view of some of the beautiful fall colors on a cool, rainy morning on the Ole Miss campus. Photo by Gracie Snyder.

McManus said it’s important to introduce retirees to the LOU area and the benefits they provide within a community.

“I think it’s vital for us to attract retirees to the area who are still wanting to contribute and be a part of a unique community,”  McManus said. “There’s a lot of value in having that type of leadership in a community – people who have had success, who have done things.”

With this being the first event of its kind implemented by the chamber, McManus is eager to be a part of something bigger than himself and expose the mystery behind Ole Miss’s magnificent landscape.

“We get to showcase the beauty of Ole Miss – get to tell people some of the secrets of how we are able to do that with such a small staff of dedicated people. Anytime we can show Ole Miss as one of the true leaders of our country, as far as what we do, not only academically, but what we do in my area, campus grounds, is truly an honor,” says McManus. “I get excited about that – getting to show that uniqueness off and see people get excited, people who care about Ole Miss and who want to be a part of something bigger than just society.”


One of the many gorgeous azalea bushes on the Ole Miss campus. Photo by Gracie Snyder.

Similarly, having previously been unexposed to an event like this, McManus relishes the innovation exhibited by the chamber in their efforts to aggressively appeal to retirees and incorporate them into this populace.

“This shows you how our Chamber of Commerce is very proactive, outside thinkers,” says McManus. “Isn’t that exciting to know that that’s what they’re doing, that they’re not just sitting back and resting and letting things come to them?”

Pamela Robertson, owner of Rebel Realty and Property Management in Oxford, and one of the sponsors for this upcoming event, recognizes the ongoing efforts of the university to reach out to every age group and establish a tight-knit community within a growing population.

“I’m impressed at how the University of Mississippi steps up, and they cater to all generations,” Robertson said. “It’s not just about 18-23-year-olds,” says Robertson.  “This is just another opportunity that the university has gone above and beyond to keep bringing the different generations to the university.”

From encountering pristine landscapes to embracing a communal atmosphere, the Landscaping Camp event looks to provide retirees with a serene getaway that hopefully turns into a permanent stay and involvement within the Oxford community.

“I’m very proud to be a part of it,” says Robertson. “I feel that with the Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to have Oxford as a retiree community, having the university and all the activities that they have; it just fully rounds the Oxford experience.”


The natural beauty of the Grove on the Ole Miss campus. Photo by Gracie Snyder.

For more information regarding this event, visit this link from the City of Oxford website:

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