Less Traveled

Page Ivey



Discover a plant's possibilities in Pearl Fryer's whimsical garden

Posted 1/16/2013 12:09:00 PM

“I am a man named Pearl and this is my garden.”

That line from the documentary about Bishopville’s Pearl Fryar welcomes us all into Fryar’s garden and his life.

His gardening efforts started as a goal in the early 1980s to win “Yard of the Month” from the local garden club. He took a brief topiary lesson at a local plant nursery and he was off.

It can take years to coax a tree or shrub into a certain shape.

Today, the 3-acre garden is definitely off the beaten path, though it is a well known destination for travelers in South Carolina. Because it is a living sculpture, it is always changing from season to season and year to year.

Several pieces look like they fell from the mind of children’s author Dr. Seuss.

Fryar still works in his garden, sculpting plants – many nursery throw-aways – and has added a collection of pieces he calls junk-art. Some days, he even gives visitors a guided tour.

Fryar has exhibited at the South Carolina State Museum and his gardens are being preserved by the Garden Conservancy. Oh, and that original goal of winning Yard of the Month, he won and became the first African-American resident in Bishopville to do so.

The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden is located at 145 Broad Acres Road in Bishopville and is open to visitors 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday year-round. Parking is available across the street and the gardens are free to stroll through, but donations are accepted.