Plant Your Own Ravinia Garden

I’m not one to know the Latin names of flowers or how often to water a cactus as opposed to an orchid or a daisy. In my world, the best tulip bulbs are merely expensive rabbit food, and one summer I spent over $700 to grow two ears of corn. But I do know enough to steal a good idea when I see one.

Ravinia’s award-winning gardens are filled with good ideas. But unless your Johnny Knoxville, you won’t want to repeat some of these stunts at home. It all started for me with a bed of Brown-eyed Susans just inside the west gate. They were tall with beyond-yellow petals surrounding smiley-face heads, looking the way God and Crayola-armed kindergarteners intend flowers to look. I spoke with the guy who planted them. Copied down the plant’s name and headed to the best garden center near my home. They had about eight different species of the plant. Not wanting to make any mistakes, I got a couple of each. As I got onto my knees in the soil—and believe me I’d rather spend the weekend watching Facts of Life reruns—then getting down on my knees in the soil—I imagined myself winning gardening awards, perhaps even for cross-pollenating these eight kinds of daisies into a new Super-Susan who could water herself and help me tend to the single corn stalk that survived the crows. Instead when the flowers finally did emerge—in the very last seconds of summer—they were small, pale and quite accusatory. Despite being perennials, they didn’t bother to come back.

When you fail, steal another idea. Something from Ravinia’s gardens were bound to take root. So by trial and error, I’ll tell you about a couple of the plants that look great at Ravinia and equally good at my house. That means they’re damned easy to take care of:

·Plantation Lilies—for my money, the best looking hostas out there. This hardy shade-loving plant has elephant-ear leaves and tall stalks of white to purplish flowers.

·False Spirea—I don’t know what true spirea is, but it can’t be any better than this great flowering border plant, which shoots up a beautiful plume of small-bud flowers (in a variety of colors from purple to red to white), but looks equally beautiful when not in bloom at all.

·Coral bells—Out of the shade and into the sun, these plants work best in mounds. The leaves are big and they have slender stalks with handing flowers. Put them in the ground and stand back.

Remember, just add water. I’m not a big water drinker myself—I had a glass in the ‘70s—preferring Diet Coke for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it’s sometimes hard for me to remember that even these easy-living plants need H20. So get a hose and live it up with your Ravinia-at-home garden.

Nick Pullia
Director of Communications


Be there for Los Tigres at Ravinia!

Latin Dance Night on Saturday was the perfect kick off to the 2008 season at Ravinia Festival. The weather was gorgeous and the music was hot! Groupo Yuba welcomed everyone at the main gate with traditional Puerto Rican drumming, singing and dancing.

The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra started the night off in great form. Tiempo Libre got everyone up and on their feet dancing to the infections Tropical rhythms. And speaking of dancing, check out the moves by Luna Negra!

It got me really excited about our next Latin night on June 14 when Los Tigres del Norte take stage for the first time at Ravinia. Los Tigres is a hugely popular Mexican band which follows in the tradition of storytelling through music. The songs are written around real life issues, including working class problems, immigration, love and relationship struggles.

Los Tigres del Norte was the first concert I saw when I was just a little kid. I still remember sitting on my dad’s shoulders and watching the crowd cheering and dancing. For the people who know Los Tigres, this is going to be a fantastic night of memories and tradition. For those who don’t know about them, come out and see for yourself why this group has won multiple Grammy awards and sold more than 32 million albums world wide. You don’t want to miss it!

Adriana McClintock
Marketing Manager



You’ll see Ravinia staff wearing the buttons this summer. “GO GREEN – RAVINIA RECYCLES.” It’s our way of answering in advance one of the most commonly asked questions by our audiences. Some people assume that Ravinia doesn’t recycle because we don’t put the burden on our guests, who can intermingle the items they throw away in our conveniently located garbage cans. All of the trash collected on our lawn is taken to the Groot waste removal company where it is sorted by hand. Recyclables, such as wine bottles and pop cans, are sifted out and sent on their way to their new incarnations.

Our recycling program is just one of our efforts to become an even greener environment. Here are some steps:

·Take-away cups, containers and cutlery at our food-service outlets are compostable.

·The cleaning supplies we use are organic.

·We are replacing our incandescent lighting with compact fluorescent bulbs, which are highly regarded for their energy saving.

·Most of our parking is unpaved, allowing for natural drainage for the surrounding neighborhood.

·Our new dining pavilion is largely constructed of a rapidly renewable type of wood provided by nurseries with sustainable harvesting. Many of the materials in this building, such as the carpeting, were created from recycled matter.

We are also looking at other opportunities to “green” things up. If you have any suggestions, email me at

Nick Pullia
Director of communications


A Wonderful Experience

I had a quite wonderful experience yesterday at the Poe Elementary
School, one which I wish every Trustee could have shared. I went to a
performance by the Amelia Piano trio who we had engaged to come in and
play for a group of roughly 300 K through 3rd grade kids. Poe is an all
Black School (3 white faces out of 300, and I saw no Hispanics). This
performance was to follow the four or five weeks of music education we
had provided for these kids. It was, I promise you, a transcendental
experience to be there.

The leader of the Amelia Trio is a marvelous teacher. He stood up in
front of the kids and drew large pictures with a magic marker on a large
piece of paper encouraging the kids to guess who each was. The first, a
smiley faced be-wigged character with 23 children (which the kids loved!)
was Bach. It is hard to describe how totally enthralled the kids were
as they then listed to a short Bach piece (the three instruments, piano,
cello and violin having be previously demonstrated by the performers).
Next came a man with an angry face, so bad with money that he lost it
all in his life and when he died at 35 was buried in a pauper's grave
with many others and his grave is still undiscovered. This was, of
course, Mozart. After a Mozart piece was played, a picture of a third
man was shown, a few lines from Beethoven's 5th were played on the
piano, and three hundred kids cried out in unison "Beethoven!" The last
was Mendelssohn whose sister, we learned, was the better composer of the
two. The kids really and truly enjoyed themselves. But, more
importantly, they have learned to love classical music, and had
obviously learned a lot in the previous weeks with the Ravinia-provided

We are really and truly doing wonderful things! And, I must say, as a
Trustee, I am very, very proud. These little kids, in the middle of a
very poor, very disadvantaged neighborhood, have had a chance to reach
for the stars. I suspect we have begun them on a lifetime of music
appreciation. I believe deeply in the concept that these young children
will soon go underground as they get old enough to be "cool", but like
the 17 year cicadas, will emerge in their 30's and 40's and find their
way to Ravinia or downtown to the CSO. I make quite a number of small
contributions to various civic and community organizations, but none
that makes me as proud as that to the Education and Community
Partnerships work. Bravissimo to all those who work so hard to make
this happen. And a particular kudos to Luciano who did a wonderful job
of liaison with school and performers and made the entire thing come off
seamlessly without a hitch.

Loring W. Knoblauch

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