As I drive down Broad Acres Road in Bishopvile, I am sure that I have made a wrong turn. It seems impossible that this quiet, residential street could be the home of the Fryar Topiary Gardens
, a sprawling, three-acre collection of sculpted trees, boxwood and holly.
I’m ready to turn around when I see it: a forest of trees curling whimsically towards the sky and branches trained into wide, inviting arches over the lawn.
The effect of these lollypop-shaped trees and fantastical, living sculptures in this suburban environment is magical. As I begin my tour, an older couple steps out of their RV. Both point wildly at the topiaries and giggle as they snap photos and delve deeper into the labyrinth of greenery.
These quirky creations are the work of a man named Pearl Fryar, who began to cut the bushes in his front yard into shapes in the hopes of winning a neighborhood prize for best lawn in 1984. Soon people were slowing down to take a look and getting out of their cars to chat with the creator of this real life “magic garden.” Fryar was inspired and continued expanding. The garden now includes abstract sculptures that Fryar creates to complement his garden.
It’s no surprise that Fryar did, in fact, win that “best lawn” prize back in 1984, and today Fryar’s Topiary Garden has been featured in publications including Newsweek, Fine Gardening and The New York Times and on TV shows like PBS’s Victory Garden. Fryar also has been profiled in a documentary film entitled A Man Named Pearl.
Fryar Topiary Gardens is located in Fryar’s yard, but don’t be shy; visitors are welcome Tuesdays-Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
To find the gardens, take Interstate 20 to Exit 116 onto Highway 15. Turn left onto Broad Acres Road. You'll find Fryar’s house – and this unexpected and fanciful patch of green – at 145 Broad Acres Road.
For more information visit www.fryarstopiaries.com