A Hedge Against MediocrityBISHOPVILLE, South Carolina— After buttoning up our exploration of Dalton Stevens' surprising collection, we cruised back into town in search of Bishopville's other local superstar, Pearl Fryar. As we reached the corner of Broad Acres Road and saw the impressive sign pointing the way to South Carolina's most famous topiary garden, we wondered if we were headed for something stodgy and formal.
|Just outside the Bishopville city limits|
|Twin arches invite visitors into the garden|
Deciding they didn't want to live in the thick of intolerance, the Fryars bought the cornfield on a street where blacks were welcome, and there they built their home. Though he hadn't allowed himself to be angered by the overt bigotry, Fryar had not forgotten it. Upon learning that the local garden club awarded a plaque for "Yard of the Month," Pearl resolved to become the first African American to achieve the honor.
|Pearl Fryar freely shares his wisdom and time.|
|Sculptures in the driveway island, like all the Fryar topiary, are trimmed every 4 to 6 weeks|
|"I can topiary anything at this point"|
In 2006, Fryar's supporters organized a nonprofit foundation to preserve his legacy beyond his lifetime. At age 73, he is grateful for this assistance. His plan to phase various sections of the garden into a more natural state have been abandoned as he trains an apprentice to carry on his work. The Garden Conservancy, which provided the fancy sign at the corner, has also adopted the garden as a work of great originality and offers resources to help ensure its preservation.
|"You shouldn't be able to get that plant to do that," horticulturists have said. "I'm glad I didn't know," Pearl replies.|
Academic performance does not necessarily predict potential for success, Pearl contends. If a young person has talent and passion and is willing to invest hard work, traditional measures are irrelevant, he says, crediting his father with instilling in him the value of a strong work ethic: "He always told me, 'I want you to be somebody.' And I did."
In his work and his life, Pearl Fryar seeks to have a positive impact, striving to create a garden which will inspire visitors to feel better when they leave than when they arrived. Carefully carved into the ground in large flowering letters are the guiding principles of Pearl's garden and his life.
|(Photo by HGTV)|
Pearl Fryar's Garden Stats:
- 3.5 acres
- 400+ plants
- pruned every 4-6 weeks
- 10,000 annual visitors
- plants include: junipers, hollies, Leyland cypress, pines, oaks, dogwoods, spruce, cedars, boxwoods and others
More Photos from the Garden
|A pot-bellied stove fountain, one of Pearl's artistic creations|
|Pearl's neighbors have been inspired by his garden and joined in the neighborhood whimsy|