Recognized as one of the most beautiful college campuses by Newsweek and The Princeton Review, the University of Mississippi campus is a point of pride for the Oxford community, and Landscape Services has been hard at work upholding that reputation this spring.
Landscape Services divides its roughly $1.8 million operating budget evenly over the four seasons, but focal points such as roundabouts, main signage and entrance areas use a majority of the budget, according to Jeff McManus, director of Landscape Services.
McManus, along with the entire Landscape Services department, said they attempt to create year-round interest by creatively incorporating plants that create colorful foliage throughout the year.
Director of Public Relations Danny Blanton believes campus landscaping is important to the image of Ole Miss.
“Our landscape service professionals work tirelessly to make Ole Miss the most beautiful campus in the nation,” Blanton said. “Countless times we’ve been told by students as soon as they saw campus, they knew this is where they wanted to be. Their hard work and dedication make Ole Miss the iconic campus that it is.”
Landscape Services employs 33 full-time positions, around 23 of which routinely maintain the campus grounds. Landscapers work outdoors throughout the week, regardless of the weather, even working early weekend mornings to pick up students’ trash from the previous night.
“My favorite aspect of Ole Miss’ beauty is the landscaping,” said Elizabeth Ellis, junior elementary education major. “The flowers year-round bring sunshine to everyone’s day.”
Ellis specifically noted the spring daffodils and tulips as her favorite flowers on campus.
The tulips, currently around entrances and focal points on campus, were planted last winter in preparation for the spring months.
Once the spring tulips fade out, a variety of heat-tolerable plants, such as lantana and begonias, will be planted in their place. In the fall and winter, pansies are used to create seasonal color beds.
“Campus is open 365 days a year,” McManus said. “It has to look good 365 days a year. You don’t know who’s going to come.”
McManus said he believes the hard work is worth it. He said most people who work in landscaping would rather be outdoors, working with their hands, and able to see what they have accomplished at the end of the day.
— Mary Daniel Simpson