Monday, July 4, 2011

Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden in Bishopville, SC

The Biltmore Estate Garden is rather a tough act to follow.
But though it was beautiful and awe-inspiring,
I had a feeling of delight... even giddiness... 
when we visited Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden in South Carolina.
I guess it is because he is more like the rest of us garden-loving, non-billionares.

He is a homeowner with a larger lot (I am guessing a couple of acres), who has created his own garden style, and worked at it tirelessly for many years. No team of gardeners or much outside encouragement, just funny looks from the neighbors (hmm... some of us can relate). And now he is able to enjoy what he has created, and others are opening their eyes to his gifts also.

I learned about Mr. Fryar's garden this past winter when I stumbled upon a documentary on Netflix of all places.
A Man Named Pearl introduced me to his story, which tells of humble beginnings (many of his shrubs were from the nursery dump pile) and a love for his art... and the racial tensions that existed when he bought his property.

This sign stands at the end of Mr. Fryar's neighborhood, pointing the way for his visiting public.

See if you can guess where the garden is in the middle of this average neighborhood?
Hmm... not too tough. Rather like spotting Gilmore Gardens from down the street.
The front of the house with its circular driveway.
The left side...
The view that stopped my breath (for reasons other than the intense heat).
This tier-fountain garden is just to the left and back of the house (following from the preceding photo).
As you come closer in front of the fountain, you have a better view of the smaller hedge surrounding it (below).
Viewed from further left of the large bed in front of the fountain.
Mr. Fryar is also an accomplished "junk" artist, this fountain being my favorite example, but many other water and sculptural pieces are placed around the garden.

I enjoyed watching my children (and my 6-foot husband!) have an Alice in Wonderland experience while walking amongst the enormous, old shrubbery. Many are as large or larger than those I have seen at Longwood Gardens in PA.

View to the right of the house
 Mr. Fryar does all of his sculptural pruning with powered hedge clippers, a ladder and a man lift.
The girls with his famous man lift.
More views of this amazing property...
The garden to the left of the house.
An arch in progress.
Looking back toward the house (from the left).
His signature topiary, not yet trimmed for summer (though its seems to be on the list since the clippers were laying underneath).
View of the right side of the house from the rear.

What a wonderful stop! So glad that it worked out for us along our travels.

Hope you enjoyed seeing it too! If you are ever driving along east from Columbia on I-20, be sure to take exit 116 to Bishopville, SC. Pearl Fryar's garden is just one mile off of the exit in the direction of Bishopville.
An hour well spent!


  1. What a fun and extraordinary garden to visit. thanks for taking us.

  2. My stepdaughter and family live about 20 minutes from Bishopville, so we visited Pearl's garden a couple years ago. Wonderful garden. I cannot imagine the number of hours (years) it took to create this garden and what it takes to keep this garden in shape. Pearl has even influenced other gardens in his town -- you can see his topiaries all over town. Did you get a chance to meet Mr. Fryar? Wouldn't you love to just have a visit with him? :-)

  3. Wow, the man-hours that go in to creating this paradise must be staggering. What a labor of love. Thank you for such nice photos.

  4. I have seen Mr. Fryar featured in news stories. He has created an incredible garden. How nice you were able to visit...and take us along! Thanks!

  5. Wow, its fantastic, amazing, wonderful, who needs flowers !!!

  6. Hi Julie, What an amazing garden! I like the art and its placement in the garden. Thanks for much for showing us this creative and beautiful place.

  7. Dear Julie, You have featured some wonderful gardens lately. I have greatly enjoyed visiting them with you. P. x

  8. Amazing Garden!


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