Column: Seeing Ole Miss in full bloom reminds us it’s been deemed ‘most beautiful campus’

A bed of pansies and tulips planted between the Ole Miss Lyceum and the J.D. Williams Library. Photo by Jodi Hallum.
A bed of pansies and tulips planted between the Ole Miss Lyceum and the J.D. Williams Library. Photo by Jodi Hallum.

Jodi Hallum
Oxford Stories

The grass is green, the birds are chirping, subtle rain showers in the afternoon are almost always a guarantee, and every outside surface has been coated in a thin layer of lime green pollen. It is official. Spring has sprung in Oxford.

It has been a long winter for us. Many relish the chilly, winter weather. We have had days of snowfall and hot cocoa followed by loud, stormy nights of rain and thunder. 

Now, as we move further into April, we get to experience chilly mornings, warm breezy afternoons, and even more rainy nights. Although the weather has seemed inconsistent these past few weeks, the changes are leading to a beautiful spring season. 

As it starts to appear, one thing we can all agree upon is the bright, beautiful landscaping around Oxford and the Ole Miss campus. The arrival of various shades of reds, pinks, yellows, and purples we begin to see is the first tell-tale sign of spring. 

Take a quick walk around campus, and you will see some of these eye-catching colors at the entrances, around the Circle, the Grove, and in front of the Ford Center. 

However, these lovely colors don’t just appear out of nowhere. According to the University of Mississippi’s Landscape Services website, approximately 10,000 seasonal flowers are planted to achieve the goal of adding flowering beauty to the campus. 

For tulips alone, between 5,000 and 30,000 bulbs are planted in the fall that undergo a chilling period. The snowfall we experienced in early March offered one last chill before bursting into their full blooms. 

The Ole Miss Grove squirrels are sure to snack on some of the tulip bulbs, as they are known for having an onion-like taste. The petals are said to have a pea or cucumber-like flavor, but don’t pick some for your next salad. We humans can find our treats elsewhere. 

Next time we are graced with a sunny afternoon, be sure to take a stroll between the Lyceum and the J. D. Williams Library. There you can find a long strip of pink tulips planted alongside multiple pansy colors.

On many street corners, you can spot Azalea bushes in their vividly pink grandeur. Bright yellow forsythias can also be seen this time of year. Forsythia is in the olive family and has antibacterial and antiviral properties that allow it to be used for medicinal purposes. 

A pink azalea shrub across the street from Farley Hall. Photo by Jodi Hallum.
A pink azalea shrub across the street from Farley Hall. Photo by Jodi Hallum.

Cherry blossoms on Yoshino and Kwanzan trees can be spotted around the Circle. The Yoshino cherry tree blooms earlier than other varieties of cherry trees and is one of the staple varieties of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. If you aren’t able to make a trip to D.C. to see them, you can find the same blossoms here in Oxford. 

You can also catch a glimpse of the dogwood trees showing off their pale-ivory flowers. 

Other trees native to Oxford can be found blooming. The Southern catalpa, Eastern redbud, and the Southern magnolia are just a few. However, we won’t see the magnolia trees blooming until closer to summertime. Remember to visit Magnolia Row in May. It is a sight to behold. 

With all these vivacious plants, it comes as no surprise for many students and Oxford locals that the university has been awarded the title of “Most Beautiful Campus” in various publications. USA Today, The Princeton Review, Newsweek, College Insider, and The Best Colleges are just a few. 

Dogwood tree blooming near the Grove. Photo by Jodi Hallum.
Dogwood tree blooming near the Grove. Photo by Jodi Hallum.

Based on this reputation, it also may not come as a shock that Ole Miss budgets over $1 million a year for the grounds. Many may argue that it is money well-spent. Regardless of the way you may feel about it, we can all agree it sure is lovely this time of year. 

The only downside to the beauty is all of the sniffling and sneezing that comes with it. This time of year has been referred to as the “pollen apocalypse.” 

Every color of car that is present in this town has a slight lime green or yellow tint to it. Although there’s no point in heading to the car wash quite yet. We still have a few more weeks of pollen falling before we are in the clear. 

With so many people suffering from allergies, some may think it’s a new strain of COVID. Rest assured, it’s just plants reproducing. Pick up some Zyrtec or Allegra from Chaney’s and hang tight. Soon we can venture out and enjoy the fun spring activities offered here in Oxford and on the Ole Miss campus.

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