The Bernice Garden
Paying homage to Arkansas’s own artists, the Bernice Garden is a 100 x 150 ft garden that features sculptures by Arkansas artists, as well as a concrete patio that is “covered with a striking sustainable, lighted canopy that catches rainwater and funnels it into a cistern” (“Garden”). The garden reflects Arkansas’s nature and sustainability as the garden’s structural construction materials are made of recycled and reclaimed local wood and metal. In addition, “The sculptures and other artworks are made from reusable, recycled and sustainable materials, and the canopy and cistern were designed with green materials and constructed to have a low environmental impact” (“Garden”). The collected rainwater from the garden patio’s cistern "sustains the native plants, herbs, ornamental grasses, and annual and perennial flowers that flourish on the grounds" (“Garden”).
Backstory and Context
The Bernice Garden is owned and founded by Anita Davis, who “envisioned a gathering place to celebrate community, sustainability and local artists. In a feminine approach to downtown revitalization, Davis worked with a talented team to create a garden to support these goals” (“History”). In 2006, Davis purchased the garden’s property and opened the Bernice Garden in 2007.
The main lot of property was previously home to several prestigious Arkansas natives. The Augustus-Garland-Mitchell House (1873) was home to governor and senator Augustus Garland, who was the 1st Arkansas man to serve on a President’s Cabinet. After Garland, the home belonged to the Fletcher family and served as birthplace to poet and Pulitzer Prize winner John Gould Fletcher. This famous house was then home to Dr. Charles Brough, Arkansas’s 25th governor. The property’s back lot was once the Little Rock Inn, an old-fashioned drive-inn restaurant. Later on, the property was home to Captain D’s fast food restaurant. After that restaurant burned down, Davis also purchased that property.