Pearl Fryar

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Pearl Fryar
Born (1939-12-04) December 4, 1939 (age 83)
OccupationTopiary artist

Pearl Fryar (born December 4, 1939) is an American topiary artist living in Bishopville, South Carolina.



Pearl Fryar was born on December 4, 1939 in Clinton, North Carolina to a sharecropper family.[1] In the late 1950s, he attended the North Carolina College in Durham.[2] He served in the military and was in the Korean War. After leaving the military, he moved to Queens, New York. In 1975, he began work as a factory engineer at a Coca-Cola soda can factory in Bishopville until his retirement in 2006.[3][4][2]

Initially, Fryar wanted to move into Bishopville's city limits, however he was blocked from purchasing a home in the area due to white residents thinking he wouldn't maintain his property and instead built on the outskirts of town.[4] He began working in his yard to prove his white neighbors wrong with "throwaway" plants rescued from the compost pile at local nurseries and received the 'Yard of the Month' in 1985.[3][5]

Around 1988, Fryar began trimming the evergreen plants around his yard into unusual shapes. In addition to the boxwood and yew found there originally, he began transplanting holly, fir, loblolly pine and other plants as they became available. His living sculptures are astounding feats of artistry and horticulture. Pearl Fryar and his garden are now internationally recognized and have been the subject of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, television shows.[5]

In 2006, the documentary A Man Named Pearl was produced by Scott Galloway and Brent Pierson about his work.[5]

Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden[edit]

Fishbone tree

Pearl's garden is a living testament to one man's firm belief in the results of positive thinking, hard work, and perseverance, and his dedication to spreading a message of "love, peace, and goodwill."[citation needed] and today, the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden draws visitors from around the globe.[1] Visitors to the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden experience a place that is alternately beautiful, whimsical, educational, and inspiring. Pearl's garden contains over 400 individual plants and is integrated with "junk art" sculptures.[6] The aesthetics of Fryar's work are a departure from traditional topiary work and are considered abstract, inventive, and free-form.[7]

In 2007, the Friends of Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden and the Garden Conservancy formed a partnership with Pearl Fryar to preserve and maintain the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden and to further Pearl's message of inspiration and hope.[8] In 2008, a scholarship was created by Fryar and the Friends of Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden to provide for students with lower grades.[4]

During 2020-2022, a new nonprofit, The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden, Inc. was established (the previous one having been dissolved in 2018) and is working collaboratively to continue support and preservation of the artistic and horticultural legacy of Pearl Fryar. For more information or to donate, please visit

Awards and accolades[edit]

  • “The Heart Garden” collaboration with Philip Simmons for Spoleto Festival USA’s “Human/Nature” installations (1997)
  • June 27 was recognized as Pearl Fryar Day by the South Carolina General Assembly for his “humanitarian ideals and artistic influence” (1998)
  • Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts (2013)
  • Award of Excellence from National Garden Clubs Inc. (2017)


  1. ^ a b "Pearl Fryar". Laumeier Sculpture Park. Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Miniter, Brendan (August 1, 2008). "Garden Paradise: A Man Plants Seeds of Harmony". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "A Day in the Life of Pearl Fryar | Charleston Magazine". CHARLESTON SC |. March 26, 2019. Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "Fate and fortune align for Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden restoration". Carolina News and Reporter. November 30, 2021. Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c "A Man Named Pearl (2006)", IMDb.
  6. ^ "Shear Brilliance", Smithsonian Magazine, May 2008, p. 32.
  7. ^ Brook, Isis; Brady, Emily (2003). "Topiary: Ethics and Aesthetics". Ethics and the Environment. 8 (1): 126–142. doi:10.2979/ETE.2003.8.1.126. ISSN 1085-6633. JSTOR 40339057.
  8. ^ Twitter; University, Furman. "How One Man's Simple Hobby Evolved Into a Topiary Wonderland". Treehugger. Retrieved December 29, 2021. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)

External links[edit]