Arkansas Governor's Mansion
It is our pleasure to share the Mansion's beautiful buildings and grounds with both Arkansans and visitors to our State. Tours are offered free of charge. Because the Arkansas Governor's Mansion is the full-time home of the Governor and his family, tours of the Mansion are scheduled by appointment only and are available only on days when other events are not scheduled. Outside volunteers are scheduled to lead tours, therefore it is imperative that tour groups keep their scheduled tour time or give at least three days' notice of cancellation. Please call 501-324-9805 to check on tour availability.
The Governor's Mansion sits on eight-and-one-half acres complimented by various gardens. Extensive new landscaping and gardens, designed by world-renowned Arkansas landscape designer, P. Allen Smith, were begun in December of 2006. This area offers visitors a sweeping vista of botanical beauty that invites everyone to take a leisurely stroll along chat paths or to enjoy quiet reflection around the fountain directly behind the Grand Hall.
As the welcoming view of the Governor's Mansion, the front-entry gardens are designed to highlight and showcase the handsome Georgian Colonial home. A formal, circular fountain is the centerpiece of the oval Entrance Garden, framed by boxwood hedging in a Greek-key design with large flower beds on either side for seasonal color. Connecting the north-entry gate to the front door of the Mansion is a brick pathway that runs down the center of this garden and on either side of the fountain.
Of special note is the bronze bust of President Bill Clinton just to the right of the front gate. Surrounded by azaleas and dogwoods, the bust, by local sculptor Jan Woods, honors the former President who, along with his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea, called the Mansion home for 12 years.
Along the western fence row is the Rose Garden. Several varieties of antique roses, as well as beds of seasonal plants, shrubs, and flowers, provide color during the growing season. The beds are highlighted by a row of large trellises, which can be viewed by walking along an easily-accessible chat path.
The Parterre Garden directly behind the Grand Hall features a round fountain with surrounding pathways arranged in a diamond pattern, symbolizing that Arkansas is the only diamond-producing state in North America. The entire garden is ringed by a hedge of holly trees for year-round greenery and privacy.
Framing the formal Parterre Garden are long, white-columned pergolas covered with wisteria vines and New Dawn roses for springtime color. A pathway adjacent to the west pergola leads to an expanse of grassy lawn that can be used for garden entertaining. This lawn area, too, is surrounded by holly-tree hedging, giving the area a more formal appearance.
The Mansion Herb Garden - or herbary - is the oldest permanent garden on the property. It is located just west of the Parterre Garden and is connected by a pathway. It is a project of the Arkansas Unit of the Herb Society of America, whose members provide the planning, planting, weeding, and care of this impressive and unique garden.
Originally conceived and championed by former First Lady Betty Bumpers, the first herbary was built in 1978. It was designed by Little Rock landscape architect Cinde Bauer Drilling. It was upgraded in 1984 and enhanced again in 1993 and 1998 with red-brick, raised beds and additional walkways. Tourists may browse through and learn about the various herbs that can be grown in Arkansas. The Mansion culinary staff also gathers herbs used in cooking and for table decorations.
The Mansion Vegetable Garden sits at the southeastern corner of the property on a small rise overlooking the Parterre Garden and Family Garden. It is surrounded by a distinctive picket fence that replicates the original picket fence of Rosewood, the house and grounds that graced this site in the early 1800's when it was the home of Territorial Governor William S. Fulton, who later became the first U.S. Senator of the new State.
The garden contains five large, raised beds and two regular beds planted with a variety of typical Southern-garden produce. Much of the produce from the garden is harvested in the summer and used by the Mansion's culinary staff.
A greenhouse and tool shed, as well as composting bins and soil storage, can be found beside this garden, encircled by flowering crabapple, holly, espalier, and magnolia trees.
Another special feature of this garden area is the "Mini-Mansion," a small replica of the Governor's Mansion that serves as a doll house/playhouse for visiting children. It provides a unique center of interest for the garden and surrounding grounds.
The Sculpture Garden is located east of the Grand Hall. Chat paths lead from the Grand Hall to this garden and also serve to connect the Hall to the Mansion's security building. On either side of the connecting pathways is a large expanse of open lawn, planted with hydrangeas and azaleas. Two urns hold plantings that provide seasonal color. The entire garden is surrounded by holly hedges for year-round greenery and privacy. The latest sculpture to be installed in the garden is the Rain of Faith.
Next to this garden, the land slopes up gently to the east colonnade connecting the Mansion to the Governor's office. The slope features contoured landscaping and a lawn with mass plantings of lovely azaleas and graceful hydrangeas.