When the Smart Home at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry was remodeled this year, its gardens also got a bit of a face-lift.
The exhibit—a three-story home built outside the Henry Crown Space Center—was designed as a one-year attraction in 2008 to honor the museum's 75th anniversary. The exhibit features eco-friendly construction and furnishings coupled with state-of-the art technology, and it was so successful that the museum decided to keep it permanently and change its interiors annually.
In the past, the area now housing the Smart Home's gardens was used by employees and had a few old picnic tables. Today, fifty volunteer master gardeners from the University of Illinois Extension Service care for the garden and grounds, which include vertical gardens, hydroponics, green roofs, and rain barrels capturing water from the museum's roof line.
Benches in the garden are made from recycled plastic, and compost containers, earthworm bins and honeybees also dot the landscape.
After visitors take the 20-minute guided tour of the home, they are welcome to wander the gardens for as long as they'd like.
The oak trees on the property date back to the 1893 Colombian Exhibition World's Fair in Chicago. "The one condition we had when we were building was that they couldn't touch the oak trees," says Anne Rashford, director of temporary exhibits and events.
"Two years ago, one oak tree was uprooted in a microburst, but we used the wood to make a dining room table and other pieces in the collection."