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Bishopville

Nothing can be quite as humbling – or inspiring – to yard neatniks as a visit to the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden ( www.pearlfryar.com), a three-acre yard Fryar started redoing in the 1980s in an attempt to win Bishopville ’s Yard of the Month award. His garden of topiary – roughly 400 trees and shrubs carefully barbered into living artwork – attracts perhaps 15,000 visitors a year.

The man and his mission were the subject of film, “A Man Named Pearl.” The national Garden Conservancy has designated Fryar’s garden a Preservation Project, and his “Heart Within a Heart” – a sizable Hollywood twist juniper – was transplanted to Columbia and replanted on the grounds of the South Carolina State Museum.

His acreage in Bishopville includes “found art” sculptures assembled from cast-off materials, but it’s his carefully pruned topiaries that draw visitors. Some shrubs are made symmetrical in shape and located in plantings that show a carefully ordered balance. Other creations are just as meticulously trimmed into flowing abstracts.

Though in his 70s, Fryar does the ongoing pruning and planting himself, with only a part-timer to lend a hand with grounds upkeep. Many of his plants started out as throwaways from nurseries.

The garden is open Tuesday-Saturday, year-round; admission is free.

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