A Man Named Pearl

A man named Pearl is a topiary artist!


If you try to call topiary artist Pearl Fryar at his home in Bishopville, don’t be surprised if you have to wait while his wife runs to get him. He’s probably outside working in his three-acre garden. Or maybe he’s autographing calendars for a busload of tourists up from Florida or down from New York — or he’s training his apprentice, or he’s filming another national TV spot for John Deere, or he’s talking to a reporter for an article in a national publication, like the one that appeared in the September issue of Southern Living or the one coming up in the November issue of Harper’s.

These days, Fryar is such a hot commodity he might also be on the road someplace — talking to home and garden groups or visiting schools and museums and talking about the value of hard work, or maintaining commissioned gardens around the state. He tells Free Times he just returned from giving a talk at the University of New Hampshire and the Fryeburg Academy in Maine. Next week, he’ll be at the University of Kentucky and after that in New Orleans.

Italian Garden Topiary


Italian Garden Topiary

Art Print


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Simply put, Fryar is an extremely busy man.

This Saturday, though, the man who has been called a “real-life Edward Scissorhands” and “a plant whisperer” will be appearing in Columbia at the South Carolina State Museum, which is screening the 2006 documentary A Man Named Pearl at 2 p.m. The screening, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Fryar, is part of the museum’s annual Fall Heritage Festival and Pickin’ Party, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A Man Named Pearl chronicles Fryar’s unusual rise to prominence as an artist, which began almost 30 years ago when he decided he wanted to win Yard of the Month and began putting trees and bushes discarded by a local nursery on his property and sculpting them into unusual shapes. Directors Scott Galloway and Brent Pierson weave footage of Fryar’s work around various interviews with Fryar, his neighbors and members of the regional arts community.

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