Pearl Fryar

I’m obsessed with topiaries. I believe it stems from my obsession with the movie Edward Scissorhands. I saw it six times in the movie theater. I love everything about this movie. The story line, the actors, the soundtrack, the set design.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, Edward cuts bushes into different shapes, making crazy-ass topiaries. Animals, hands, people. I guess I love the idea of making art out of nature.

I went to the Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, RI, a few years ago, with Daisy and Jeannine. It was AMAZING. Huge giraffes, teddy bears, and camels. And beautiful regular gardens as well.

When I learned recently that there was a documentary about a self-taught topiary artist in South Carolina, I was all over it. A Man Named Pearl came out in 2006. Pearl Fryar is a son of North Carolina sharecroppers. He moved to Bishopville, South Carolina, for a job in a beverage can factory. He was determined to win his town’s “Yard of the Month” award. So he started taking plants that were being thrown out at a nearby nursery, and planting them in his yard. He nurtured them, and started cutting designs in them. And an artist was born.

Pearl’s personality really shines through in the documentary. He is passionate about his work, and has a child-like enthusiasm about it. He and his wife both have a great sense of humor, too. I think he was 66 when the doc was filmed, and he was still out in his yard every day, trimming and planting. And taking busloads of people on tours. People from all over the world visit his yard in tiny Bishopville, South Carolina.

Read more about him on his website. I hope to make it to his garden someday.

Pearl on His Mower (courtesy of
A Section of the Garden (courtesy of

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