Friday, April 10, 2009
Tree nurseries for landscaping purposes were an important agricultural crop in Lake County as early as the 1840s. The earliest known nursery was Thomas Payne's in Fremont Township, established in 1841. Within a decade, Payne had 100,000 trees in his inventory, including Norway spruce and apple varieties.
One of the best known nurseries on the North Shore was the Clavey Nursery of Highland Park, founded in 1885 by Frederick Clavey. Later the company was known as Ravinia Nurseries. F.D. Clavey is shown (above) in his nursery, circa 1910.
Clavey started his business by selling trees off farm lots. To Clavey, the best trees came from fields where cattle had nibbled on them making them trimmed and bushy.
This estimate (above) for work at the Rothschild home in Highland Park includes extensive sodding and the planting of nine spireas all for less than $100.
Trees were dug by hand and transported by horsedrawn wagon. Clavey wasn't just a nurseryman, he was a landscaper, too.
This business card shows an impressive workforce.
Ravinia Nurseries Fall 1926 and Spring 1927 catalogue.
Page views from the catalogue. (above)
A 1923 advertisement for the nursery stated: "Trees selected with care as to variety and placed with relation to the house and views, give a feeling of quietness and an appearance of permanency to home grounds."
The ad went on to detail the nursery's growing practices: "Trees in our nurseries are planted far apart so as to develop a good top, and are frequently transplanted so as to produce a fine root system of fibrous roots. Because of this our extra-large size trees will transplant successfully and obviate years of waiting for their shade and proper effect."
Large tree for "immediate effect" being planted at a North Shore estate, circa 1930.
In the late 1950s, the nursery provided trees to beautify Michigan Avenue in Chicago (left). The Clavey's also planted the ivy for the now famous "ivy wall" at Wrighley Field.
By 1970, Ravinia Nurseries' was headquartered in Lake Villa, selling evergreens, trees, shrubs and vines. They have since gone out of business.