Back in the early 80s, an African-American man named Pearl Fryar wanted to move into a white neighborhood in South Carolina, when he heard someone express concern because they thought black people neglected their yards. So Pearl decided to prove the stereotype wrong in grand fashion by winning the Yard of the Month award in the community.
With no prior gardening experience or training, he began planting and caring for discarded plants on his property. Not only did he achieve his goal of winning the award, he continued expanding and improving his garden with fantastic topiary designs. And he’s still at it nearly 4 decades later, winning fame and acclaim for his skills and imagination. He’s even been the subject of a documentary, A Man Named Pearl.
Visitors from all over the world flock to his home and those of his neighbors (where he also puts his art to work) to admire the trees and shrubbery he has “designed”, along with the garden sculptures he fashions from found objects. There are even public restrooms on his property.
We came on a day in January, when some of the plants were not in bloom, but Pearl’s garden was still a sight to behold and admire. They even inspired us to do our best (though still not very good) Johnny Depp impersonation. We hope to return in spring or summer sometime, and to meet Pearl and see him at work.
Special thanks to Pearl Fryar for providing the adventure.