Pearl Fryar embodies love as a master topiary artist with no formal training. He’s become a local celebrity who has put Bishopville, South Carolina on the map.
Pearl is also a husband, father and neighbor. He’s a speaker, youth mentor and churchgoer who gives back to his community.
Simple, homespun and true, this inspiring and profound documentary shows Pearl transcend racism with passion, commitment and hard work. Scott Galloway and Brent Pierson direct. J. Steven Anderson is director of photography.
Pearl was once turned away from buying a home in a white neighborhood. Neighbors feared he wouldn’t keep up his yard. He moved on.
Three acres and big dreams
Pearl bought a home surrounded by three acres of hardscrabble. His imagination soared.
Returning home from his job at a soda can factory, Pearl would set to work. He salvaged bushes from a local nursery refuse heap. Ideas and shapes took root.
Pearl mowed, clipped, and shaped until late at night. Neighbors thought he was crazy. His wife Metra finally accepted it. The son of a sharecropper was proving himself. He was feeding his soul.
Yard of the Month
Pearl’s knack for mathematics helps him craft planes, angles and lines. Creating free form, organic shapes, he’s a perfectionist. He does not use chemicals, he says. He talks with his plants.
Pearl plans and waits. It takes four to five years to achieve each shape. His creations range from grand to whimsical. Some sculptures soar over 20 feet tall.
When the Iris Garden Club bestowed “Yard of the Month” honors, Pearl’s handiwork became a boon for economically depressed Lee County.
Love, Peace and Goodwill
About 10,000 tourists visit Pearl’s garden each year. Now retired, he often leads tours himself. Admission is open to all by donation. Fame has not changed Pearl, say the locals. He remains a humanitarian at heart.
When you first arrive, you’ll see the words “Love, Peace & Goodwill” etched into his lawn. “You can feel some kind of spirit in it,” says a visitor. “He’s not just doing it for show.”
Edward Scissorhands visits
Even the crew of the hit movie Edward Scissorhands visited Pearl’s garden for inspiration. He has proven that “you can do something with practically nothing,” says Ennis Brant, a childhood friend.
Jackie Robinson instills hope
In childhood, Pearl revered baseball player Jackie Robinson, who helped him realize that racism would fade someday. Now in his 70s, Pearl loves speaking to at-risk youth and college students alike. “Do something with your creativity,” he urges.
Efforts are underway to buy the property from Pearl and preserve it for future generations.
“You can be somebody,” he says. He’s moved to tears when neighbors follow his lead. On his street you’ll see lush lawns dotted with topiary sculptures.
Pearl’s golden rules are simple: Word hard. Stay positive. Provide for your family. Make a difference in your community. (5 out of 5 stars)
A Man Named Pearl 2006 / G / 1 hour, 18 min
Cast Overview: Pearl Fryar
Director: Scott Galloway and Brent Pierson
Genre: Documentary, Gardening, Enterprise